Sikorsky has delivered the first of 16 S-92s to UK mission critical services company Avincis Group for operation by its Norwegian subsidiary Norsk Helikopterservice.
Although registered in Norway, the first two S-92s will be based in Aberdeen an used for offshore crew transportation and search and rescue missions in the North Sea on work for clients of sister company Bond Aviation which has been seeking additional capacity in the UK since the October grounding of its Eurocopter EC225 fleet. The S-92s are expected to begin operations in Norway before the end of 2013, says Avincis.
All 16 S-92s will be equipped with five flotation devices, two auto-deployable life rafts, satellite flight-following communications, and a main rotor blade ice protection system.
Offshore oil operators fly the aircraft for an average of 90-110h per month in often challenging environments, says Sikorsky. Operators based in North Sea region countries - including the UK, Norway and The Netherlands - operate 47 S-92s configured for offshore transport and search and rescue missions, adds the US airframer. The S-92 fleet is expected to reach the 500,000 flight hour milestone in February, leading to the 200th delivery of the 20+-seat type in the second quarter of the year.
Avincis subsidiaries - which also include Inaer and Australian Helicopters - operate a combined fleet of about 350 rotary and 50 fixed-wing aircraft across 295 bases worldwide.
The aircraft order - announced in December 2011 - is the largest single purchase of S-92 helicopters to date. The first four aircraft will be financed by Irish helicopter leasing company Milestone Aviation.