Paul Derby

Sikorsky unveiled the largest civil helicopter order in its history at Paris yesterday, agreeing an unprecedented contract worth $250 million to deliver 35 new S-76 helicopters to multinational operator Offshore Logistics, with options for a further 24 aircraft.

If all the options are exercised the value of the deal could soar to $450m.

First delivery from the massive order is set for later this year. Another 20 S-76s are scheduled for 2006 and 2007, with the balance being handed over between 2008 and 2012.

The majority of the aircraft will be C++ models and Offshore Logistics could even become the launch customer for the Sikorsky S-76D - the next generation S-76 due to come into service in 2008.

"If Sikorsky can bring forward some of those S-76Ds into 2007 we would definitely be interested in taking the aircraft," says Bill Chiles, Offshore Logistics chief executive.

"This order is the largest we've ever placed. We need this number of aircraft because we are operating at maximum capacity right across the globe. We've been behind the curve in upgrading our fleet and these aircraft will put us on track."


Offshore Logistics is the world's largest provider of helicopter transport services to the oil and gas industry and its new aircraft will be used to support customers across the world through various strategic business units. The company operates in 18 countries with 400 aircraft; it is the majority shareholder in the UK's Bristow Helicopters and the parent of US-based Air Logistics. Celebrating the order bonanza, Sikorsky senior vice president marketing and commercial programmes Jeff Pino says the manufacturer will rack up an astonishing $600m in civil sales during 2005, six times the figure of four years ago. "It's a challenge for 2006, but our sales guys keep delivering," says Pino. "This order positions the S-76 as the premier aircraft of choice for the offshore oil and gas market."

Development work on the S-76D is ongoing. Key design changes to the aircraft, which will have a streamlined exterior, revolve around its new Pratt & Whitney Canada PW210S turboshaft and an all-composite main rotor blade.

Source: Flight Daily News