At Airbus Helicopters’ Oil & Gas symposium, held May 27 in Río de Janeiro, industry representatives met to learn about the manufacturer’s presence in the oil and gas segment, notably with offerings such as the H175 (formerly EC175) and H225 (EC225), as well as support and services solutions in the region.
“This symposium, and the changes presented here, demonstrate Airbus Helicopters’ strong commitment to better support customers in the offshore industry in Brazil,” said Roberto Coimbra, CEO of OMNI Brasil.
Symposium attendees also discussed their operational needs in a region exploiting both ultra-deepwater exploration and drilling in the Amazon rainforest—environments that cover vast distances, posing thorny transportation challenges.
Poised to meet such demands is the H175, which visited Brazil on a week-long demo tour starting in Cabo Frío (June 8) and continuing to offshore bases at Macaé (June 9-10) and Rio de Janeiro’s Jacarepaguá Airport (June 11-12). The flights demonstrated the H175’s exceptional performance and power reserves, showing to good effect its efficiency and safety during take-off and landing, rig approach, and hovering.
The H175 is known for its low vibration and sound levels in a cabin that accommodates up to 16 passengers. “It's good to see that a helicopter manufacturer aims for excellence in the oil & gas market with the H175,” said symposium-attendee John Fenton, CEO of Helivia. “Actually, the H175 goes a step further, allowing the customer to meet their current operational demands.”
In Brazil, where rigs are located increasingly farther offshore and where 91 percent of oil production is in very deep water, operations push the limits of helicopters’ range and fuel capacity. Airbus Helicopters developed the H175 to meet such evolving needs, offering a light airframe that, with no need for an auxiliary fuel tank, carries more than 2 tons of fuel, translating to long endurance (6 hours) and a fast cruise speed (160 kts). At full payload, the helicopter’s range covers 90 percent of Brazil’s oil and gas operations.
The H175’s counterpart in the heavy category, the H225, is already in operation in the region; three of Brazil’s four major oil and gas operators rely on the workhorse helicopter, which has proven its worth in both range and payload, transporting 19 passengers up to 452 NM.
With the two rotorcraft, Airbus Helicopters is the only manufacturer to offer aircraft that cover the gamut of Brazil’s oil and gas transportation needs.
With that offer comes a corresponding on-the-ground network. The Itajubá-based Helibras customer center provides support to Brazil’s 50 Airbus Helicopters aircraft dedicated to oil & gas. And a new Fleet Center was inaugurated earlier this year.
Benefiting from the expertise of a multidisciplinary team from Helibras and Airbus Helicopters, the Fleet Center is set to provide technical support for a fleet which logs phenomenal daily flight hours and which demands high aircraft availability.
“We were introduced to the fleet availability improvement program,” said Filipe Heringer, manager of technical competence and aviation security at Petrobras. “As an offshore client here in Brazil, we have high hopes that the Fleet Center will bring good results.”
And coming in October is a new training center, with a full flight simulator (FFS) for both the civil H225 model and its H225M military version.