Libra Group subsidiary LCI has announced that it has acquired 19 helicopters from a consortium led by Lobo Leasing together with its partners RIVE private investment and Turning Rock Partners. The deal values the portfolio at USD115m. While the details of the make-up of the portfolio remains under wraps, RotorHub can reveal the lion’s share of the portfolio is made up of AW139s but also includes S-92s, S-76C+s, B-206s, and AS332L1s.
All the aircraft included in the deal are presently on lease with eight of the helicopters in South America while the remainder are placed with lessors in Europe and Africa and brings the total number of countries served by LCI assets to 28. Commenting on the deal Jaspal Jandu, CEO of LCI, said:“This portfolio acquisition is another major step in LCI’s strategic plan and reflects our confidence in the helicopter market. Our team and partners have performed strongly, and the assets will be seamlessly incorporated onto our leasing platform, driving further efficiencies of scale.”
Meanwhile,George Logothetis, Chairman and CEO of LCI’s parent company, the Libra Group, added: “The continued expansion of LCI’s fleet represents another strategic and forward-looking investment by the company. LCI continually works to demonstrate foresight and agility in meeting customer needs, with a nimble and future-focused approach that reflects the ethos of all across our Group.”
Since its inception in 2004, LCI has undertaken in excess of US$8 billion of transactions in the aviation markets.
Airbus and Munich Airport International have signed a Memorandum of Understanding at ILA Berlin Air Show to start marketing turnkey solutions to cities and regions interested in developing advanced air mobility (AAM) ecosystems. Airbus is developing CityAirbus NextGen, its eVTOL aircraft, along with key support and services offerings around it, while Munich Airport is offering ground infrastructure services and solutions. “Munich Airport International is already collaborating with Airbus on the Air Mobility Initiative recently launched in Munich – now we are expanding that partnership globally to support select cities and regions around the world,” said Ivonne Kuger, Executive VP Corporate Development MAI. “Munich Airport has always been at the forefront of innovation and it is crucial for airports to be actively involved in developing and paving the way for this new form of transport”, Kuger adds. “The development of the market, industry, and the ultimate service of AAM requires a holistic view and this has been our approach from the beginning. In addition to our decades of vehicle and technology development, certification, and support, we are actively building working ecosystems with our partners,” said Balkiz Sarihan, Head of UAM Partnerships and Strategy Execution at Airbus. “We are sure that our partnership with Munich Airport will be a key catalyst for accelerating the development of the AAM ecosystems worldwide.”
Air medical service provider Air Methods have announced the opening of a new base in Weslaco’s Mid Valley Airport for its Airlift Texas HEMS service , which, the company says, will result in faster response times to cases as well as providing inter facility transport for patients requiring specialist care across the Rio Grande valley.
The base opening will be phased with daylight operations only for the first few weeks of operation to allow the crews to build up knowledge of the terrain and challenges of the new area of operations. Meanwhile, base operations staff will use the time to ensure ground operations are operating smoothly. “Safety is our top priority, and we will always choose safety for everyone on board the aircraft over any business benefit.” said Brandon Ryan, Senior Strategic Solutions Executive from Air Methods. “While you’ll only see us during the day for these first two weeks, rest assured that we are taking the safety-first approach to build the foundation that will allow us to serve this community for many years to come.” Airlift Texas plans to have its Weslaco based Airbus EC130 operating a round the clock operation by the end of June. “We established this base due to the growing need for an air medical base in the Rio Grande Valley to better serve the entire region,” said Kelly Shepherd, Regional Sales Director of Air Methods. “At a time when more than 85 million Americans live more than an hour’s drive from Level I or II trauma centres, there is an increasing demand for air medical services to ensure that patients have access to necessary care centres.”
The fully fitted EC130 will also be stocked with blood giving the aircraft an in-flight transfusion capability. “Having access to blood in-flight is such a valuable resource in our community,” said Shepherd. “With this tool, patients have the potential for better outcomes, particularly when AirLift Texas is serving individuals in rural areas who rely on air transport to quickly get them to the emergency care they need. Administration of blood, combined with rapid air transport, can truly help critically ill or injured patients who otherwise might not survive.”
The Norwegian Civil Aviation Authority (Luftfartstilsynet) has given Helitrans the thumbs up for pilots to complete training and certificate / licence renewal (OPC / PC) in an Airbus H125 VR simulator. Norway is the very first country in the world to formally approve the use of this type of VR simulator.
“This is an important milestone for Helitrans and all the other operators within the onshore helicopter industry”, says Helitrans CEO, Ole Christian Melhus. “Helitrans has for quite some time worked with the manufacturer, VRM Switzerland, to develop this VR simulator in accordance with our requirements and needs, as well as to have it approved by EASA, the European Aviation Authority, and the Civil Aviation Authority. It has been a long process, and we are incredibly happy that this has worked out. The entire Helitrans team is proud to be the first company in the world to operate an approved VR based FTD Level 3 Airbus H125 simulator. The approval warrants our decision to invest in this new technology, which will be paramount in increasing safety”.
With an airline and corporate aviation background Melhus has first-hand knowledge of the effects of structured simulator training. He has therefore been a driving force in the use of simulator training and is satisfied that the onshore helicopter segment has a lot to gain from using this technology. “I am extremely excited to be part of this paradigm shift and the innovative, sophisticated, training concept launched by VRM Switzerland, using high-resolution 3D graphics with 360-degree visual combined with realistic motion simulation. This makes it possible for us and other helicopter operators to build a rigorous training and safety culture, and, not least, reduce incident and accident rates in the industry.” Melhus adds.
Helitrans’ pilots work with advanced assignments including assembly of masts, pylons and power lines in the energy supply industry, sling load assignments, which require a high degree of accuracy and precision. Many of the mission tasks are difficult to train in a helicopter and therefore require simulator training. “In the past, we have leased conventional helicopter simulators abroad at high hourly rates. With this new technology platform, we foresee a unique opportunity to train all the twelve special operations such as sling load, ship landings, firefighting and more, in a larger and more realistic 360-degree environment.” says Melhus.
The company has purchased two simulators the first is located at CAE’s facility at Oslo Gardemoen Airport, while the second is mobile which delivers flexibility to both Helitrans and external customers who will be able to book time on the simulators through the company’s Scandinavian Aerospace Academy from July. Commenting on the utility of the mobile unit Melhus said “Instead of sending pilots to helicopter simulators abroad, we can now carry out training in the districts where the pilots are located. This is positive for everyone involved including the environment, where we also ensure good implementation opportunities combined with reduced costs”
Airbus Helicopters have delivered the first of five H125s to the Phoenix Police Air Support Unit. The aircraft which feature are intended as replacements for the Unit’s aging fleet of AS350 B3s which it acquired in 2005. Critically for Phoenix’s hot climate and mountainous surroundings, the new aircraft the recently certified VEMD upgrade, which delivers a 10 percent power increase to the Safran Arriel 2D engine.
In the front office the aircraft sport Garmin’s 10.6-inch touchscreen G600TXI GDU coupled with GTN 650Xi, with Bluetooth capability. Meanwhile, the law enforcement suite sports a 17-inch Macro-Blue touchscreen, which serves a dual purpose as a digital mapping platform for the AeroComputers UC-6000, and for viewing the images from the Wescam MX-10 multi-sensor system. Illumination of ground targets is provided by the 40 million candlepower Spectrolab SX-16 Nightsun searchlight. Communications are through a Technisonic TDFM-9000 multi-band radio head.
Commenting on the order Paul Apolinar, chief pilot at Phoenix Police Department. “We spent a lot of time analysing which platform would best fit all of our operational needs as we began to renew our fleet, and the H125 met all of our requirements. Our responsibility is to protect and serve the Phoenix community, and these aircraft will allow us not only to protect from the skies, but to perform rescues in remote locations all over Arizona. We needed an aircraft that excels in hot temperatures, and the H125 is really the best aircraft for the job in such conditions.”
The second aircraft in the order is expected at the unit’s Deer Valley Airport HQ by the end of the month with the remaining three expected within the next 12 months.
A Sinequa customer since 2013, Airbus Helicopters expanded the use of the platform this year to address increased requests made to its technical support department.
With an estimated 30,000 queries per year and rising, 200,000 technical requests, and more than 3,000 technical documents created and approved under EASA Part 21, Airbus Helicopters Technical Support sought to enable unified search and extract insights from structured and unstructured data within message boards and technical documentation.
Using Sinequa’s extensible AI-powered search platform with advanced Natural Language Understanding (NLU), multi-language support and text mining capabilities, Airbus Helicopters’ Technical Support team developed a specialized search application – internally called Hyperion, that intends to enable self-service support and autonomy for over 20 percent of customer queries, delivering an estimated 60 percent resolution rate on simple queries. Additionally, response times for second-level support interactions are expected to be reduced by 5 to 10 percent. “Sinequa is proud to work with Airbus Helicopters to help advance the company’s digitalization of its processes, and to improve the findability of vital information across the organization,” said Stéphane Kirchacker, Vice President, EMEA, at Sinequa. “We are pleased to support Airbus Helicopters in its pursuit of improved response and resolution times, optimizing its support operations and ultimately helping to guarantee optimal safety of its aircraft.”
Airbus Helicopters in Japan and Japan’s leading helicopter operator (NNK) have jointly performed the country’s first ever helicopter flight powered with sustainable aviation fuel NNK’s H215 helicopter conducted a 30-minute flight at Nagoya Airport.
For the test the aircraft was fueled with 600 litres of “SUSTEO 10”, a renewable jet fuel produced by Japan’s first biofuel manufacturer Euglena. SUSTEO 10 is a mix of 10% SAF combined with Jet A-1 and meets the specifications of both international and Japanese standards of diesel fuels ASTM D1655 and JIS K 2204 respectively. “We are happy to collaborate with Airbus Helicopters in Japan and Euglena on sustainability efforts for Japan’s sky, achieving the first SAF helicopter flight together,” said Hajime Futagami, President of Nakanihon Air. “Today’s SAF flight trial is very important for our company as we work on the reduction of the CO2 emitted during flights in an effort to tackle climate change issues. The locally produced SAF is an immediate approach towards reducing carbon emissions for the helicopter market. We are looking forward to the continued support from Airbus on our wide-ranging activities in Japan, with the enhanced precision and stability we require,” he added.
“We are pleased to launch this milestone SAF flight together with our long-standing customer as we work towards decarbonisation,” added Guillaume Leprince, Managing Director of Airbus Helicopters in Japan. “As a leader in the Japanese helicopter market, this SAF powered flight is an important step in a shared vision we have with stakeholders in the helicopter market and the industry to reduce CO2 emissions in the country. The H215 has fully demonstrated its ability and readiness to provide enhanced mission efficiency and performance our customers have come to expect.”
All Airbus helicopters are certified to fly with up to a 50% blend of SAF mixed with kerosene, with the aim to reach 100% SAF in coordination with engine manufacturers. An Airbus H225 performed the first ever helicopter flight with 100% SAF powering one of the Safran Makila 2 engines in 2021. Helicopter operations with 100% SAF would translate to a reduction of 80% of CO2 emissions. In addition, the company has launched a SAF User Group dedicated to the rotary-wing community, in a bid to drive the deployment of biofuels. The company has also started using SAF for training and test flights at its French and German sites.