While the offshore helicopter market is showing signs of recovery, 39 Sikorsky S-92s, comprising 19 percent of the global market, remain parked. Among the active fleet, flying hours are down 27 percent. Those are among the findings from the most recent “S-92 Fleet Census” from Air & Sea Analytics.
The report notes that offshore helicopter services companies Babcock, Bristow, CHC, and Lider are returning aircraft to lessors against the backdrop of one-quarter of the world’s mobile offshore oil rigs being scrapped since 2015. Nevertheless, Air & Sea Analytics director Steve Robertson said, “Relative to other [oil field services] segments, we’d argue it’s [the S-92] one of the best performing over the last 12 months.” But he acknowledged that many owners and operators are “having a rough time.” The largest concentration of based S-92s continues to be in the UK, with 41, but of that number only 29 are active.
Nevertheless, glimmers of hope remain. GECAS helicopter leasing unit Milestone Aviation is adding to its S-92 fleet, already the world’s largest, and finding placements for them. The overall count of heavies and super-mediums has increased slightly, from 214 to 224, a function of increased deliveries of the latter to offshore operators. The report found that “super-medium units continue to be delivered and find work in the market.” And at least two operators, Cougar and Chevron, are increasing their overall fleet size.