(16 Feb 2021) Shell has selected PHI, an US-based offshore helicopter company, to operate four Airbus H160s to service a support contract in the Gulf of Mexico.
The contract marks the entry into the oil and gas market of the H160.
Airbus will provide one H160 ahead of final deliveries to PHI and Shell for a year-long route-proving programme to enable the operator and the final customer to familiarize themselves with the type’s advanced features and mitigate the normal challenges around entry into service.
The H160 will be based at Houma, Louisiana and join PHI’s large fleet of H125s and H135s deployed in emergency medical service throughout the United States, as well as two H145s operating for Shell on pipeline survey work in Louisiana, and two H145s flying the world’s longest harbour pilot shuttle in Mackay, Australia.
PHI Aviation Managing Director, Keith Mullett, said, “We are proud to be playing a key role in the entry into service of the highly advanced H160 in the offshore sector and we look forward to bringing a step change in operating standards through the confidence building route-proving exercise agreed with our partners Airbus and Shell.”
With 68 patents, the H160 is one of the world’s most technologically advanced helicopters and features a suite of pilot aids delivered through its Helionix avionics which substantially reduces crew workload and decreases the risk of pilot error.
Innovations include the world’s first ground helipad assisted take-off procedure, a vortex ring state pre-alerting system and a recovery mode to automatically regain steady flight in difficult circumstances.
The H160 is powered by two of the latest Arrano engines from Safran Helicopter Engines. It incorporates an embedded monitoring system and a redundancy of sensors, and can be maintained autonomously far from base. The design emphasises robust corrosion defence specifically envisaging offshore missions.
Shell General Manager – Supply Chain Deepwater, Viet Van, said, “The emissions reductions that the H160 provides help us continue to deliver crude and natural gas with the smallest carbon footprint of our global deepwater portfolio, and are another important step to meeting our goal of zero net emissions by 2050.”