Eurocopter’s under-pressure EC225 has received a vote of confidence from operator Avincis, which has placed an order for three of the heavy twins for its Australian operation.

This adds to a recent commitment from fellow offshore firm CHC Helicopter, which has ordered an additional four EC225s.

Deliveries will commence in December 2013, with the final example to be handed over in the second half of 2014.

They will be operated by subsidiary Bond Helicopters Australia, to support offshore oil and gas operations in the Timor Sea.

Avincis already has three of the type based at subsidiary Bond Offshore Helicopters in Aberdeen. However, these have still to return to service following the widespread grounding of the EC225 in October 2012.

The restriction on overwater flight came on the back of two ditchings in the North Sea last year, the first of which involved a Bond aircraft.

Eurocopter’s executive vice-president global business and services Dominique Maudet says around 75% of the global fleet are now back in operational service, “and we expect a full return in the coming months”.

“The EC225 is, and will continue to be for years, a benchmark for the oil and gas industry,” he says.

Martin Whittaker, group fleet director for Avincis, says it remains confident in the EC225’s safety record. Its Aberdeen-based helicopters are ready to return to service, he says, but it is still “going through the hearts and minds work” with its customers to convince them of its safety case.

Source: Flight International