Why did ACHI decide at the time to purchase these 17 oil & gas H225s and repurpose them as utility helicopters?
Many of the contract opportunities we’ve been looking at had very old aircraft – around 30 or 40 years old. This was affecting their reliability and their ability to satisfy customer needs. We therefore decided to look for a modern aircraft that was easily supportable and that could carry even more payload, with greater range, because in the utility market, payload and range are the key to customer satisfaction. The H225 was rather unique in this sense.
Thanks to the availability of these aircraft due to the decline in the oil & gas sector, we were able to acquire a fairly significant number and convert them from an offshore configuration to one more suited to utility work, with capabilities such as external cargo hooks, an external hoist for human recovery, an NVG cockpit, etc. This conversion allowed our helicopters to fulfil a whole new range of missions that had previously only been possible for military customers of the H225.
Airbus had a lot of experience here because they were familiar with the military variant of the H225, but adapting them was a bit of an engineering challenge as we had a list of around 12 modifications! Fortunately, our partnership with Airbus has paid off, with them providing the engineering and technical support combined with the MRO facilities.