Milestone Aviation Inks $400 million-plus Deals with Eurocopter, Sikorsky

HAI Convention News » 2012
February 13, 2012, 6:35 PM

In two separate deals here yesterday, global aircraft finance company Milestone Aviation Group (Booth No. 7010) announced with OEMs Eurocopter (Booth No. 1917) and Sikorsky Aircraft (Booth No. 6148), respectively, orders for 16 Eurocopter EC225s and three Sikorsky S-92s. The EC225 order is valued at $480 million. Terms of the S-92 contract were not disclosed.

Deliveries of the EC225s were said to commence next year with Milestone taking approximately three aircraft per year. In the Sikorsky deal, Milestone will take two S-92s in the second half of this year with the third delivery in early 2013. The aircraft are intended for lease to Milestone customers, and some of them may have already found a home. Milestone also announced yesterday a leasing agreement with Bristow Group for five large helicopters worth $125-$135 million.

“Demand for these machines is extraordinary, and they will quickly enter the field performing mission-critical or utility work with operators in the oil and gas, EMS or search and rescue sectors,” said Milestone chairman Richard Santulli.

Milestone works with both smaller operators that don’t have the financial resources to purchase helicopters necessary for their growth, and major operators that seek more flexibility in deploying capital.

“We have a very simple standard: if they’re a good, safe operator, size is not a problem,” said Santulli, the founder and former CEO of NetJets. The only requirement is that “the helicopter has to make a living” in a revenue-generating capacity, rather than be used for executive transport.

Milestone already has an inventory of seven S-76C++ and four S-92 helicopters, and in addition to purchasing helicopters for lease, the company provides 100 percent financing for operators. Since its launch in 2010 Milestone has provided more than $500 million in financing to operators, including CHC and Inaer in addition to Bristow. The agreement with Bristow announced yesterday is the largest Milestone has arranged.

“The terms of these agreements with Milestone covering 100 percent of the acquisition cost of the aircraft meet our commercial needs to better manage our financial performance,” said William E. Chiles, Bristow Group president and CEO. “What’s more, Milestone brought capital, creativity and commitment to the transaction process.” The helicopters bound for Bristow are expected to operate in the North Sea.

Bob Korkorda, Sikorsky sales & marketing v-p, said, “In a very short time, Milestone Aviation has become one of the pre-eminent helicopter lessors and an important and highly valued customer.”

At the signing ceremony for the EC225 order, Eurocopter President and CEO Lutz Bertling said, “The EC225 is a remarkable aircraft, and we are excited to be able to offer it to a broader audience of potential operators through our partnership with Milestone.”

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