Eurocopter has officially opened its North Sea Service Centre in Aberdeen, Scotland. The facility - in which Eurocopter has invested £10 million ($16.1m) - provides training, technical and logistics support to the UK's three main offshore helicopter operators - Bond, Bristow and CHC - which are based nearby. 

The trio provide search and rescue operations, crew transportation to the oil and gas industry's offshore platforms and aerial support for the emerging wind farm sector.  Eurocopter has the largest North Sea-based helicopter fleet, it claims, with 100 aircraft in operation generating 100,000 flying hours a year. 

The most common type used for offshore missions is the EC225 Super Puma. A total of 45 Eurocopter types are based in Aberdeen, a further 11 are located at other UK bases along with 31 in Norway, eight in the Netherlands and five in Denmark.

Speaking at today's inauguration ceremony - where the airframer also signed an agreement with CHC to provide 800h of simulator training in the facility's new EC225 full flight simulator - Eurocopter UK managing director Markus Steinke says: "Eurocopter selected Aberdeen for the new facility because of its location at the heart of UK oil and gas exploration." 

He says the offshore market is booming and the North Sea service centre will be expanded to cater for the anticipated increase in demand from its key operators. "As the new EC175 enters service next year with offshore providers, we will probably add a simulator for this type in Aberdeen," adds Steinke.