HAI Convention News

Milestone Bulks Up Eurocopter Orders

 - March 4, 2013, 5:15 PM

Global helicopter lessor Milestone Aviation Group of Dublin, Ireland, and Eurocopter announced at Heli-Expo ‘13 this morning purchase orders with options for up to 15 EC225 Super Puma and five EC175 helicopters, contracts worth as much as $540 million (€415 million). The valuation is based on a price of €22.5 million each for the EC225 and €14 million each for the EC175s.

Milestone (Booth No. C5911) has previously ordered 16 EC225s and will begin taking deliveries of the newly ordered helicopters this year. Deliveries of the EC175 are slated to commence in 2016. “My Eurocopter history goes back a long, long time,” Milestone chairman Richard Santulli told AIN, in discussing the order. The founder and former chairman of NetJets, Santulli also founded RTS Helicopters in the early 1980s. “I sold all the Pumas ever delivered in North America,” Santulli said. “A large percentage of the copters are still operating. We love the asset,” he concluded.

Said Eurocopter president and CEO Lutz Bertling, “This order further develops our partnership with Milestone and demonstrates the confidence our longstanding partners place in Eurocopter’s Super Puma family. It also underscores the EC225’s operational performance and value delivered with demanding customers such as Milestone, the first global aircraft leasing company exclusively focused on helicopters.”

Santulli anticipates the Eurocopters will operate in the same markets where Milestone helicopters are currently leased: Brazil, the North Sea, Australia, Africa, Indonesia and Malaysia. No lessees have been named for the ordered aircraft.

Milestone, founded in 2010, finished 2012 with more than 70 helicopters worth more than $1 billion on its books. Santulli said Milestone will make more purchase announcements at Heli-Expo, which will bring its total orders to about $2.2 billion. Milestone currently has about 25 employees, most of them colleagues from NetJets, and Santulli expects few new hires will be needed “to go from one billion to two billion” dollars in assets. But he has no plans to turn the team’s NetJets experience to move into leasing fixed-wing aircraft. “We’re not going to do any of that,” Santulli said. “Airplane leasing is a very cyclical business. You have to play the cycles. But helicopters, especially those out working in oil and gas, don’t have any cyclical chances. We made a decision not to use any capital in fixed-wing [purchases and leasing].”