Eyes on Diversification, Erickson Rebrands

 - February 24, 2014, 8:15 PM

Long known as the world’s lone operator of the heavy-lift S-64, Erickson Air-Crane announced yesterday that it has rebranded as Erickson Incorporated, reflecting the company’s recent acquisitions and newly diversified portfolio. Over the past year, the Oregon-based company purchased fleet operators Evergreen Helicopters and Air Amazonia, which will serve as the basis for three new operating divisions within its new corporate structure: Erickson Helicopters (formerly Evergreen Helicopters), Erickson Transport (formerly Evergreen Helicopters of Alaska) and Air Amazonia (to be rebranded over the coming months), which will join Erickson Air-Crane, Canadian Air-Crane, European Air-Crane and Malaysian Air-Crane within the company.

“What will be different about these units is most of them will fly a mix of aircraft,” said company president and CEO Udo Rieder, noting the end of the days when the company was defined solely by the Aircrane. Over the past year, Erickson has gone from operating 20 S-64s to more than 90 rotary- and fixed-wing aircraft of varying types. “We are obviously very competitive and we found that we were giving away a lot of the markets to smaller aircraft, to medium aircraft to light aircraft as well as to fixed-wing aircraft,” he added.

When the opportunity to acquire the other operators came, the company took it, more than doubling its size and increasing its revenues from $200 million to $400 million along the way. “We’re substantially more diversified than we’ve ever been,” Rieder noted, adding that the company was aware that many of its Aircrane customers also required other lift services. “We were just never able to bid on those because we were never in that market. Now we are in that market, and we are in that market in a very big way.”

Diversified Portfolio

Before the acquisitions, more than 50 percent of the company’s revenues came solely from firefighting, yet in terms of the recently purchased Evergreen, approximately 95 percent of its revenue came from Department of Defense (DoD) work, while 100 percent of Air Amazonia’s revenue came from oil and gas work. Looking forward Rieder pictures a revenue stream diversified across the market, with approximately 30 percent from DoD business, approximately 25 percent each for firefighting and oil and gas and construction and logging activities accounting for the remainder. Since its initial public offering in April of 2012 at $8 a share, Erickson’s stock value has increased to $21 a share.

The company also intends to leverage its maintenance, repair and overhaul experience gained with the ’60s-era S-64. Based on its recent fleet additions, Erickson is now also the world’s largest operator of the Bell 214ST. “There’s no reason at all that we shouldn’t also be the largest provider of third-party maintenance for Bell 214STs,” Rieder said, noting there are several other platforms on which the company could offer services as well, in partnership with the original OEMs.

Despite the changes, the Aircrane, which can lift 25,000-pound payloads, remains a core part of the company’s current and future plans. Last year, it acquired the type certificate from Pratt & Whitney for the JFTD12 engines that power the helicopter, allowing Erickson’s engineers to work to wring additional performance and reliability out of the design. Erickson has built 33 Aircranes and still has four airframes in reserve, but when combined with the 1992 acquisition of the aircraft type certificate from Sikorsky, it now has full authority build from scratch when necessary. A new composite main rotor blade system is under development in a partnership with Canada’s Helicopter Transport Services, which is expected to offer a 10- to 15-percent increase in lift capability while reducing fuel burn and providing substantial savings in maintenance and inspection costs.