HI Uplift: Helicopter Investor takes off on social media


Sikorsky has three S-92As in production at West Palm Beach, Florida.

Sikorsky’s plans for its S-92A heavy helicopter, a senior appointment at Bell Flight and Bristow’s financial results proved three of the most popular posts on Helicopter Investor’s LinkedIn site last year.

A renewed commitment to manufacture and support S-92A commercial helicopters was one of the most popular posts on the social networking platform. Following industry concern about the future of the S-92, which plays a key role in the offshore oil and gas sector and in other heavy lift roles, Leon Silva, vice president of Sikorsky’s Global Commercial and Military Systems told Helicopter Investor last month: “Sikorsky is committed to the S-92A and our commercial customers. Sikorsky delivered three SAR helicopters to two Korean search and rescue [SAR] operators this year [2023].”

The Lockheed Martin company also has three S-92As in production at West Palm Beach, Florida and demand is rising. “We are experiencing an increased demand signal for S-92 in the offshore oil, SAR, head-of-state and utility missions with new and existing customers and are now taking orders for additional S92A+ aircraft,” said Silva.

Helicopter lessor Milestone Aviation told us a number of S-92s were approaching the end of their primary mission life in the oil and gas sector. Pat Sheedy, president and CEO, told our HI Finance Forum at the European Rotors event in Madrid in November that from 2024/2025, the first S-92s will reach 20 years of age. That’s the limit oil companies regard as the end of helicopters’ primary mission, he said. Milestone estimates between 10 to 15 S-92s will hit that 20-year cut off every year from 2025 onwards.

Staying with helicopter manufacturers, Bell Textron’s appointment of Jacinto Monge as MD of its Commercial Business in Europe also proved popular on LinkedIn. Commenting on his appointment last autumn, Monge said: “As one of the largest commercial rotorcraft markets in the world, the European region boasts a diverse range of operators and missions. Bell is experiencing significant growth in this region, and I look forward to delivering advanced, dynamic aircraft and our Global Customer Solutions to customers across Europe.”

Monge previously served as MD for Bell, Asia-Pacific and as the representative director for Bell in Japan. In this role, he led Bell’s commercial business in China, Japan, Korea, India, South East Asia and the Pacific.

From manufacturers to operators, Bristow Group’s third quarter (Q3) 2023 financial results excited interest from HI’s LinkedIn users. The company had passed “a positive inflection point” on its long journey back to profitability, Chris Bradshaw, president and CEO told a Q3 analysts call. Bristow had just posted net income of $4.3m ($0.15 per diluted share) in Q3 compared with a net loss of $1.6m ($0.06 per diluted share) in Q2.

“Consistent with our outlook that the second half of 2023 would mark the positive inflection point for Bristow’s financial results, Q3 Adjusted EBITDA of $56.6 million represents a 45% sequential quarter improvement and supports our outlook for stronger financial results in 2024 and beyond,” said Bradshaw. Bristow raised the company’s full-year 2023 adjusted EBITDA guidance range to $165m-$175m. 

Our post reporting awards for Bristow’s UK SAR missions attracted a similar interest from users of the social networking platform. Its latest award, the Prince Philip Helicopter Rescue Award for 2023, was made in recognition of its mission to save the crew of a yacht in distress off the Lizard rocks on the UK’s south west coast.

Graham Hamilton, UK SAR director for the operator said after the award: “It is just fantastic to see how the international SAR community has acknowledged this rescue. The way the team worked – and I include their counterparts on the water and colleagues in the base – really brought to life all the Bristow values.” This award followed previous accolades including: the Collins Aerospace 2023 Rescue of the Year, the Edward and Maisie Lewis Award for Outstanding Air-Sea Rescue and the Silver Medal Service Certificate on Vellum from the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).

Other popular posts included our reports on the aftermath of Air Methods’ decision to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and a deal between Airbus Helicopters and PHI. Our posts on Air Methods – which included industry insight on what lay behind its decision and what might happen next – featured Alastair Fallon, director and senior appraiser at valuation business F4 Fly Fast Further First. He told us: If clarity is not brought to the Helicopter Emergency Medical Sector sector soon, many others other (perhaps smaller) operators may follow Air Methods’ into Chapter 11 protection. 

“The EMS stream will require a rethink and a more reserved approach,” he said. “Part of the 2021 Congressional No Surprises Act was transparency. We need to see that in action. Covid probably didn’t help any operator and the 2021 Act has exacerbated margins and those already on the breadline will be feeling the pinch.One consequence is likely to be declining services in the least profitable areas of operation – remote communities.

Finally, our post in September about Airbus Helicopters and PHI Group signing a 28-helicopter agreement that included 20 super-medium H175s and eight H160s to serve energy markets worldwide commanded widespread interest on LinkedIn. The deal included both firm orders plus purchase options that PHI may exercise during the course of the agreement. Scott McCarty, CEO, PHI Group said. “The agreement is a component of our broader strategy to bring new technology into an industry that has experienced a strong rebound after years of underinvestment. We look forward to our continued partnership with Airbus as we prepare to enter these aircraft into service with our customers around the world.”

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