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EBU Builds on a Strong Heritage for a Brighter Future

January 13, 2015

With more than 1,000 employees and 60 years of experience in offshore operations, Bristow's Europe Business Unit (EBU) has earned a reputation for safety and service. In recent months, new people have arrived and processes are being put into place to meet anticipated growth in both the oil and gas and search and rescue (SAR) sectors.

Bristow's Europe Business Unit (EBU) has new leaders at the helm who are guiding the organization toward growth by building and strengthening relationships in both oil and gas and SAR sectors, expanding and upgrading the aircraft fleet as opportunities develop, and working closely with OEMS and suppliers to drive improved performance and reliability.

When asked about his vision for EBU for the next three years, EBU Director Alan Corbett says, “Our goal is to add value in a competitive environment and be among the industry leaders with respect to delivering technology and leading-edge services. We will look for ways to improve efficiencies within our operations in close collaboration with the manufacturers supporting us today.” When asked where growth opportunities exist, Corbett says he thought they would be found both in SAR and in the traditional oil and gas support work, particularly in the heavy aircraft segment. “There will be solution-oriented opportunities where our fixed-wing and rotary services together will play a greater role in meeting clients’ complex logistics issues.”

While EBU continues to grow, the emphasis remains on safety. “Our primary focus is to maintain our high standards of safety and further develop this robust safety culture with Target Zero being the driver,” he says. “We continue to invest heavily in new technology to help minimize human error on the ground and in the cockpit.”

INVESTING IN PEOPLE, FACILITIES

Corbett sees managing the continued drive for quality and reliability as EBU’s biggest challenges, but he’s confident the team is up to the job. “We must be able to respond quickly and efficiently to the service challenges we have in supporting our clients and work closely with our OEMs to ensure they are aligned with us to deliver what clients want and expect.”

Critical to meeting these expectations, Corbett says, is to continue to invest in Bristow people and operations. “We will further invest in upgrading our facilities where required to ensure a clean, safe and aesthetically pleasing workplace for our employees. For many years, Bristow has been the company of choice for employment in the rotary aircraft segment. We are proud to be that preferred employer and will continue to recruit the highest-caliber people to best serve our operations and clients.”

NEW OPPORTUNITIES IN NORWAY

Norway Area Manager Arne Martin Gilberg joined Bristow as a chief pilot in 1999 after serving in the Royal Norwegian Air Force for 11 years After a year in Trinidad, he returned to Norway in July 2014 with a new job as area manager and a new perspective on the company’s growth prospects in the region. “I had a fantastic time in Trinidad,” he says. “During my time there, some big changes took place such as major contract wins, organizational change, the introduction of new helicopters and making plans for a new state-of-the-art facility.”

Bristow Norway also saw major changes recently, adding clients, employees and new aircraft. Currently, there are about 360 employees and 21 helicopters – including Sikorsky S-92s and Airbus EC225s. Facilities include one offshore and four onshore bases throughout north and south Norway. The offshore SAR base is particularly important because many of the North Sea rigs Bristow serves are an hour and a half from land, and it’s comforting to know help is nearby to get back to shore if necessary. “There is still enormous growth potential in Norway,” Gilberg says. “New fields are being developed in the southern region of the North Sea, and there is currently a great deal of exploration taking place in the Barents Sea. That exploration activity will hopefully be successful and stimulate further development drilling. As our market grows, we will continue to focus on service quality, on-time performance and retaining the highest safety standards.”

ADDING THE AW189

Bristow’s planned fleet expansion for EBU is another key piece of the company’s growth strategy. To support new and anticipated contracts, six state-of-the-art AgustaWestland AW189 helicopters will be added in the near future.

Already, Bristow’s Norwich base is home to two AW189s serving installations in the southern North Sea, and four additional aircraft are due to be delivered in the coming months for both oil and gas and SAR operations. Twelve Bristow technicians have completed the AW189 maintenance training course at the Aberdeen and Norwich bases, with 10 of the graduates destined for SAR operations. “These technicians are ready to service this new aircraft’s advanced systems and will play a vital role as we introduce the AW189 more widely across our UK operations,” says Training Manager Paul Richardson. “They are ready to put their training into action at UK SAR bases and at Norwich for our oil and gas operations.” The AW189 contains the latest state-of-the-art technologies, including a carbon fiber composite airframe, a Honeywell electrical power management and engine starting system and LED lighting throughout. The advanced cockpit display system features the latest Rockwell Collins display technology and infrared compatibility.

INVESTING IN FUTURE FLYING TALENT

Bristow recently launched a new scholarship program for EBU employees, of fering several fully sponsored commercial pilot training slots at Bristow Academy. After a rigorous interview process and several aptitude tests, the successful applicants – who must already hold a private pilot’s license – will be trained to embark on a helicopter piloting career by May 2016. “Business growth means it’s more important than ever to be investing in our employees,” Corbett says. “Many employees come to us through other routes, but with a passion for aviation, the right aptitude and an in-depth knowledge of our business, values and safety culture, these employees have the potential to be world-class pilots.”

The new scholarship complements other long-standing commitments to professional development, including Bristow’s annual Instrument Ratings sponsorship available to the best performing EASA instructors at Bristow Academy. Bristow recently awarded this scholarship to two new students, Jacob Eskildsen and Mikhail Kingham, who completed a challenging selection process involving safety, simulator and arithmetic assessments and formal interviews. They will be serving in Aberdeen with type ratings on the Sikorsky S-92. “This sponsorship is a win-win for the instructors and Bristow,” Corbett says. “For instructors at the Bristow Academy, it opens the door to a career in commercial helicopter operations by funding what can be a costly part of initial training. For Bristow, it ensures that we are building relationships with the top talent at the Academy and furthering their careers with us.”

Bristow is also continuing its annual commitment to fund four flying scholarships for students ages 18 to 26 through the Air League, one of the company’s largest providers of flight training for young people in the UK. “The Air League is one of the best routes into flying for young people and gives them exposure to world-class initial flight instruction before they join Bristow and train at our centers of excellence,” says Captain Tim Glasspool, Bristow’s head of flight operations for Europe.

NEW TOOL-TRACKING SYSTEM A SAFETY ASSET

Bristow’s introduction of the latest tool-tracking technology to its maintenance teams is part of an ongoing commitment to driving aircraft safety improvements. Along with the Gulf of Mexico bases, Aberdeen and Norway served as pilot programs for the new system, which is now rolling out at every Bristow base.

Snap-on Industrial’s new Automated Tool Control (ATC) system is the latest part of a safety investment program exceeding $5 million. The ATC toolbox is fitted with high-tech camera technology that captures images of its contents, allowing the system to identify whether tools are present or not. This information is then displayed on a screen on top of the toolbox so that maintenance engineers are constantly aware of the location of each tool. Each toolbox is streamed across the company, giving administrators real-time visibility of all tool-related activity.

“Bristow is continuously looking to enhance safety and often it’s the introduction of new technology that can allow us to do that,” Corbett says. “The concept behind the Snap-on system is a simple but effective one. It makes absolutely sure that maintenance engineers are aware of the location of their tools at all times and ultimately minimizes the potential for human error.”

READY TO LEAD

Both Corbett and Gilberg have the experience and capabilities to lead EBU into the future with confidence. Their leadership styles blend well with Bristow’s strategy and core values. “I believe in leading by example,” Corbett says. “We all want to work hard in an open and communicative environment that allows the opportunity to engage and participate. It’s important for me to be a good listener with the ability to recognize the importance of effective and timely decision-making and commitment. I believe in giving scope to people to be responsible and grow within the organization.”

“I take the role of facilitator in terms of helping people get to where they need or want to be,” Gilberg says. “My job as a leader is to help motivate people and create positive change by sharing information and a vision so that their motivation comes from within.”

FAST FACTS

EBU is the largest business unit in Bristow Group, currently contributing approximately 46 percent of global revenues.

EBU’s business spans the UK and Norway, operating in four primary business segments: Oil and Gas; Oil and Gas SAR; SAR on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA); and fixed-wing services via a 60 percent shareholding in Eastern Airways Limited (Eastern Airways).

EBU operates approximately 100 aircraft, including 30 fixed-wing aircraft operated by Eastern Airways. The diverse fleet includes S-92, S-76, EC225, AW189 and AW139 rotary aircraft. In addition, Eastern operates Jetstream 41, Embraer ERJ135, Embraer ERJ145 and SAAB 2000 fixed-wing aircraft.

EBU has training facilities that include three simulators in Aberdeen and the potential for more to be added.

The Integrated Aviation Consortium (IAC) is a partnership involving Bristow Helicopters Limited, Eastern Airways, Serco and seven oil and gas companies to deliver aviation logistics in the northern North Sea sector.

The seven participant companies are BP, CNR International, Fairfield Energy, Petrofac, Shell, TAQA Bratani and TOTAL.

Bristow Helicopters Limited is responsible for the overall management of the contract and provides an integrated single point of contact for helicopter, fixed-wing and airport management services to the IAC.

The IAC transports workers from Aberdeen Airport to the Shetland Islands. From there, passengers either are transported to offshore installations in the east and west Shetland Basins, or continue their journey to destinations on the Shetland Islands.

BRISTOW STRENGTHENS PARTNERSHIP WITH EASTERN AIRWAYS

In 2014, Bristow Helicopters acquired a 60 percent strategic investment in Eastern Airways, the UK’s leading provider of fixed-wing air services for the oil and gas industry. For both companies, the partnership is already proving to be hugely beneficial, allowing the companies to combine operations and offer clients a market-leading service. This is more of an evolution than a new partnership; Bristow and Eastern Airways have worked together for many years on the Integrated Aviation Consortium (IAC) contract and other joint flying projects. Most important, the companies share a strong commitment to safety, reliability, availability and superior customer service, and each has strong in-house maintenance capabilities and state-of-the-art training centers of excellence for pilots.

This investment also allows Bristow to take this partnership to a new level. Eastern Airways offers charter and scheduled flights operating 25 routes from 22 airports throughout the UK, Norway and France. Through Bristow’s investment, the combined operations can now offer clients a single logistics provider with an increasingly cost-effective, single-source solution and seamless experience for offshore oil and gas industry passengers. At a time when the UK’s oil and gas industry is striving to make cost efficiencies without compromising on safety and reliability, this gives Bristow the market edge.

Reflecting on the impact of the investment to date, Richard Lake, chief executive at Eastern Airways, says, “Bristow’s investment into Eastern Airways has been positive for the business, allowing us to build on our long-term relationship and effectively formalize our ongoing arrangement. We are consistently aligned with shared core values of safety, quality and service, so it has been an easy transition and mutually beneficial. Eastern Airways provides scale and stability ensuring positive financial impact for EBU.” The investment has made Bristow better placed to serve both existing European-based passengers and global clients, as well as allowing for the expansion of helicopter services in key areas that are underserved by major airlines, such as the Shetland Islands, a focal point for UK Continental Shelf (UKCS) exploration. The partnership brings together a diverse fleet of aircraft including Bristow’s 70 S-92, S-76, EC225, AW189 and AW139 rotary aircraft, and Eastern Airways’ 30 Jetstream 41, Embraer ERJ135, Embraer ERJ145 and Saab 2000 fixed-wing aircraft. It also combines Bristow’s EBU 1,100 employees with 550 employees at Eastern. Alan Corbett, EBU director, says, “While EBU will continue to focus on building and strengthening relationships in the oil and gas and SAR markets, our partnership with Eastern Airways remains an important part of the EBU business model. We will continue to bolster our joint operations and are exploring ways to enhance fixed-wing support to our oil field clients. We look forward to developing our strong relationship.”

This article appeared in Bristow World Issue 1, 2015. View the full magazine here.