European Helo Operator Rebrands, and will expand

 - November 18, 2010, 10:54 AM

Heliportugal and Groupe SAF, two Portuguese and French operators that quietly merged in 2008, are announcing a common name and expansion plans. Now called United Helicopter Services (UHS), the company operates 63 aircraft, including 59 helicopters, and has a 300-strong workforce, of which 100 are pilots. Annual revenues are said to be close to €70 million ($98 million) and flight hours are about 30,000 annually. Other companies in the rebranded group include France-based Helicap and, more recently, Turkey-based Santay Air, Brazil-based Helibarra and France-based Bird Vision. UHS is now expected to take ownership stakes in more firms. Its present helicopter fleet is composed of Eurocopter EC120 light singles to Dauphin medium twins, AgustaWestland AW139 medium twins and Kamov Ka-32s. Activities are diversified in aerial work (including firefighting and filming), EMS and offshore transport. On the maintenance side, UHS has two Part 145 facilities–SAF Industrie in Albertville (near Chambéry, in the French Alps) and Heliportugal in Lisbon, Portugal. Both maintenance facilities are Eurocopter service centers, while Heliportugal is also an authorized service center for Kamov helicopters and Hawker Beechcraft turboprops and jets. UHS operates four Hawker Beechcraft fixed-wing aircraft–King Air 350s and Hawker 900XPs.