Offshore Oil and SAR form a combined market for big long-range helicopters.

AgustaWestland, Bell, Eurocopter, Kamov, Mil and Sikorsky are currently the strong contenders for heavy-lift missions to carry pax & supplies.


Designed to support offshore and SAR missions, the AW189 is the largest of AgustaWestland's family concept offering commonality with the AW139 and AW169 aircraft.

Filling out the larger end of the AgustaWestland family concept, the AW189 was designed in response to the growing market demand for a versatile, affordable, multirole medium helicopter. Powered by 2 GE CT7-2E1 engines (2000 shp each), the AW189 will cruise at 145-150 kts with a range of over 400 nm.

According to the manufacturer, with deliveries set to start in late 2013, the new 8-ton class, twin-engine helicopter is optimized for long-range offshore transport and SAR missions. Since its launch at the Paris Air Show in June 2011, the aircraft has logged over 90 orders. The spacious cabin is configured with 16 seats as standard with the option for a high-density 18-seat layout or an ultra-long range 12-seat configuration.

AgustaWestland has successfully demonstrated to the EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) a 50-minute loss of oil or "run dry" capability for the AW189 main gearbox. The AW189 will be the first helicopter ever to enter service with such a capability, which is 20-minutes more than any other currently certified helicopter, delivering ever increasing levels of safety.

Bristow will be the first major SAR operator using AW189s and will also soon operate 11 AW189 helicopters on behalf of the British Government.

Offshore operators will include Bristow, ERA, Bond, Gulf Helicop-ters and West Star Aviation Services.


Entering service in 1999, AW101 variants have been operated by civil and military operators worldwide. The VH-71 Kestrel was selected by the US government to replace aging Marine One presidential support aircraft—that program was cancelled.

Powered by 3-General Electric CT7-8Es (producing 2527 shp each) mated to a 5-blade rotor system, the AW101 is capable of a max cruise speed of 150 ktas. In a high density-seating configuration the 34,392-lbs helicopter can seat 30-passengers making it one of the largest civil aircraft on the market.

According to AgustaWestland, the AW101 is in a category of its own and is used primarily for SAR or VIP missions. Recently AW reported some interest by operators looking to support long-range offshore missions.

The AW101 is currently being used for long-range SAR, extreme weather missions by operators such as the Air Forces of Royal Canadian, the Portuguese and the Royal Danish. Attributes include tremendous endurance and range. AW101 can fly in excess of 6 hrs with a range of up to 900 nm.

Bell Helicopter


The Bell 412 is a popular utility that replaces the 2-blade rotor system of the 212 with a composite 4-blade system. In 2013, Bell introduced the 412EPi that features a FADEC controlled PT6T-9 engine upgrade.

Bell Helicopter 412EP (enhanced performance) is 4-bladed upgrade of the classic UH-1/model 205 Huey. Other than the classic shape of the Huey, the 412EP is a completely updated version with newer avionics, improved cabin and increased performance.

Latest upgrades include the Sandel HeliTAWS, new GPS sensors and the the BLR FastFin tail modification.

JAR-OPS certified, the 412EP is powered by a single P&WC PT6T-3D "twin pack" rated at 1800 shp. Essentially, the twin pack is 2-PT6 engines combined through a single gearbox to drive the rotor systems. The B412EP seats a maximum of 13 passengers and has a useful load of 5055 lbs. Maximum speed is listed at 122 ktas with a range of around 350 nm.

B525 Relentless

Bell launched the model 525 at HeliExpo 2012. The aircraft features a largely composite structure, fly-by-wire flight controls, Garmin G5000H touchscreen avionics and advanced GE CT7-2F1 engines.

At the Heli-Expo 2012, Bell announced the new model 525 Relentless as the first new "super-medium" class helicopter. The model designator tells a lot about this aircraft—the first "5" represents a 500nm range, the "2" equals the number of engines, while the last "5" describes a 5-bladed main rotor system.

Additionally, Bell's ambitious design includes the first certified FBW (fly-by-wire) system for a civil helicopter and a new Garmin G5000H-based "ARC Horizon" integrated flightdeck. The G5000H features touchscreen controls and a large number of display configurations that allow pilots to simultaneously view PFDs, maps, charts, checklist, system synoptic pages, HTAWS, TCAS or other displays.

Powered by 2-FADEC controlled GE CT7-2F1 engines, the Relentless will have a max speed of 155 ktas. First flight of the 16 pax aircraft is expected in 2014.


According to American Eurocopter Dir of Oil and Gas Marketing Don Baenen, "We estimate the world offshore fleet to be about 2200 helicopters. The Eurocopter fleet represents more than 570 units.

If we look at the deliveries over the 2008-2012 period, Eurocopter has delivered 33% of the world offshore helicopters (which represents 37% in value), raising the company to the first rank both in units and value. This success can be attributed to both the EC225 (Super Puma) and Dauphin/EC155 families."

Baenen adds, "A total of 1546 helicopters worldwide are specialized in SAR missions of which 26% are in the civil sector and 74% are military helicopters. Eurocopter is the leader on the SAR military market, with a total of 265 aircraft in service representing 31% of the fleet. The group is co-leader in the civil segment with its wide range of Super Pumas and Dauphins accounting for the bulk of the Eurocopter fleet." A combined total of over of 1900 Super Puma and Dauphin helos have been delivered.


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