Bond Aviation Group signed a contract to purchase 16 Sikorsky S-92 helicopters at Heli-Expo 2012, the largest single order for S-92s ever recorded. Sikorsky will begin delivering the aircraft in groups of four-to-five a year starting in the second quarter of 2013.
Carey Bond, chief marketing officer for Sikorsky, welcomed the Bond (no relation) aviation group to the Sikorsky family with a celebratory contract signing and a toast at the Sikorsky exhibit booth (No. 6148).
The sale is a milestone for the S-92 program and Sikorsky, which sold a total of 19 units in all of 2011. Bond Aviation Group is a subsidiary of World Aviation Group, which operates more than 300 helicopters worldwide flying oil and gas and EMS missions.
Bond Aviation Group is a new Sikorsky customer for the S-92. The company has been highly successful in the last decade and is expanding into Australia and the Far East. The S-92, according to Carey Bond, is to be the foundational backbone of that expansion.
“The S-92, as it is now, is a first-generation helicopter,” he said. “We’ve designed in the ability to continue expanding its capabilities, such as increasing gross weight [useful load], giving it the capability to make auto approaches to platforms, and so on. The auto-approach capability is simply waiting at the FAA now for approval and we expect to be installing it on production S-92s in the second or third quarter 2012,” he continued.
Sikorsky CEO Jeffrey Pino said in his “State of Sikorsky Briefing” earlier in the day that the offshore oil and gas industry segments were currently driving the large-helicopter market and that with the average age of the worldwide fleet around 30 years, he expects that more large-helicopter orders are forthcoming. He also noted that Sikorsky helicopters will soon be able to make auto-approaches to points in space, and that self-aware helicopters that can help the pilot to avoid dangerous obstructions, as well as fully-autonomous (read: no pilot needed) helicopters are on the horizon.
James Drummond, director of Bond Aviation Group, said of the order, “We see continued, sustained growth in the markets we serve, and our customers need to have confidence that we can supply them. We chose the S-92 because of United Technologies’ commitment to quality. The aircraft is designed specifically for our missions and Sikorsky is committed to expanding the S-92’s capabilities and performance parameters to our specifications going into the future.”
Drummond continued, “We are excited about our relationship with Sikorsky, as it takes us into the next phase of our growth. The S-92 is a high-quality, capable helicopter that has proved its missions in oil and gas. We are delighted to have the aircraft coming on-stream, and expect the first delivery coming around the middle of 2013. The first S-92 will go to our North Sea operation.”
As for Bond Aviation Group’s other helicopter requirements, Drummond remarked, “We are also looking at Eurocopter to supply our medium-helicopter fleet and we’ve got A139s and A169s coming from AgustaWestland,” he continued. “We have to have a diverse fleet of helicopters to meet our range of missions.”