1) Please discuss the fleet expansion/consolidation initiatives at Falcon including the recent purchase of the two AgustaWestland AW189 super medium helicopter?
Falcon is in the process of modernizing its fleet to ensure that we remain a leader in the aviation market and comply with latest regulatory changes and requirements of oil and gas industry. Over the years Falcon has tried to optimize helicopter fleet by reducing the type of helicopter types it has operated, in order to reduce operational and maintenance costs. In the last year the decision was made to invest and purchase two AgustaWestland AW189 helicopters to further support our offshore operation and improve our service to our customers. This was another milestone for Falcon making us the first operator of the AW189 in the region. The AW189 helicopter has proven to be very reliable since its induction and in the first month we have flown over 100 hours carrying 1725 passengers and 16,710kg of freight. As part of our ongoing fleet modernization we have also purchased two new AW169 helicopters which are scheduled for delivery in the 1st Quarter of 2016. This is being driven by customer needs in oil and gas industry. We also have one option that possibly will be utilized according to our customer demands.
2) Discuss the various helicopters now part of your fleet?
Falcon owns and operates 4 different types of helicopters which suit the different sectors in which we operate. We currently operate six AgustaWestland A109’s, which is a twin engine which are used for VIP helicopter charter and VIP transport. The A109 helicopters are ideal which are twin-engine, and air-conditioner providing versatility up to six VIP passengers which can experience comfort and elegance thanks to superior interior cabin design that includes air-conditioning, superb sound-proofing and all-leather seating. Its speed is also unrivalled, thanks to its modern rotor technology.
The three Eurocopter 130B4 helicopters have cool, refined interiors with forward facing seats and wrap around windows that offer passengers panoramic views. With the added bonus of air-conditioning and intercom headsets for all, the Eurocopter 130B4 is the tourism industries choice for visibility and safety in the tourist market.
The Bell412EP utility helicopter is predominately used for supporting the offshore oil and gas market, due to its performance and range capability. Both high-performing and cost-effective, this utterly safe helicopter with its BLR FastFin systems demonstrates exceptional performance in every kind of climate. Our 10 Bell 412EP’s are all fully CAROPS3 compliant and fitted with a host of additional safety and passenger comfort features that include air-conditioning and 16G-crash-rated seating.
The newest helicopter in our fleet, the AgustaWestland AW189, is the latest-generation, high performance 8.6 tonne twin-engine helicopter, designed to answer the growing market demand for a versatile, affordable, multirole platform. The cockpit features an advanced, open-architecture avionics suite with fully digital glass cockpit, incorporating advanced situational awareness technologies to minimize pilot workload and optimize mission-effectiveness and meet the latest off-shore safety requirements. The fifth type AW169 will be added in the beginning of next year.
3) Will the AW189 be mostly for offshore to shore transportation from oil rigs or will they also be available as part of your leasing services to corporates or VVIPs?
The AgustaWestland AW189 will be predominately used for offshore operations, however it is also be available for the VIP helicopter charters.
4) Discuss demand for helicopters when it comes to aircraft leasing compared to jets in the region?
Currently there is an increase in helicopter leasing, which is predominantly due to the increase in the helicopter contracts in the region and the sanctions being lifted in Iran, however we have also seen an increase in aircraft leasing with our Dash 8 Q400 aircraft, which are now operating in Kazakhstan and Accra. We are also looking into new avenues of set leasing like Medivac.
5) Discuss the performance and safety features/highlights of these helicopters?
The AW189 was designed in response to the growing market demand for a versatile, affordable, multirole medium twin engine helicopter. The new 8.6 tonne AW189 is optimized for offshore transport. The spacious cabin is configured with 16 seats as standard with the option for a high density 19 seats layout, which is the Falcon version. The cockpit design, incorporating the latest in advanced situational awareness technologies, reduces new work load and enhances safety.
The AW189 meets the very latest international regulatory safety requirement (EASA, FAA part 29/JAR Ops 3/EU-Ops) and is fully compliant of the oil and gas producers’ helicopter operations guidelines. The AW189 is unique in having a 50 minute “run-dry” capable main gear box, exceeding current certification standards and offering unmatched safety and reliability for long range offshore operations.
6) How has the overall Business grown over the year for Falcon Aviation – which have the fastest growth areas among the various areas you focus on including Maintenance, leasing etc?
Falcon offers a wide range of services; tourism, VIP charter, maintenance, CAMO, aerial photography and the oil and gas aviation support. There has been a growth in most of the services but the fastest growing services in Falcon this year are the aircraft leasing and maintenance.
7) Is Falcon looking to offer its services outside the UAE as well?
We are currently operate our Dash 8 Q400 aircraft in Ghana and Kazakhstan, and are looking at expanding into other countries for offshore oil support.