On April 21st, Airbus Helicopters delivered an H125 to RTE at a ceremony at its headquarters in Marignane, France. At this occasion, the company also celebrated a major milestone of one of RTE’s pilots who recently clocked in more than 30,000 flight hours, the majority of which on Airbus Helicopters Ecureuil aircraft.
On February 4th, Bruno Decelle was flying an AS350 B3 on a trip from Saint-Etienne, France to Albertville near the Italian-Swiss border. He achieved a staggering milestone when he flew over the Les Bauges mountain range at the foot of the French Alps, surpassing more than 30,000 helicopter flight hours.
Decelle is one of the first pilots to have achieved this milestone in Europe. He began his career in the French Army’s light aviation service flying the Alouette 2 and Gazelle helicopters. In 1981, he worked for the French electric utility company (EDF), then joining RTE, the French transmission system operator. In their heliborne operations department, he flew 29,000 of his 30,000 hours on the LAMA, Alouette 3 and Ecureuil family helicopters. He spent the vast majority of his flight hours in low-to-the-ground flying – less than some 30 meters from the ground – and in close proximity to high voltage power lines.
These operations have been led by the heliborne operations department for more than 30 years, and assure the security of operators as well as guaranteeing the safety of the power supply of the French people.
Decelle was awarded the French Aeronautical Medal and received the "Helicopter Award" from Airbus Helicopters for the 20,000 flight hours flown on an AS350 – the most of any pilot to date.
Watch the video below to hear more about Bruno Decelle’s career and his experience flying the Ecureuil family aircraft.