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Equinor secures new helicopter capacity
Equinor's Norwegian offshore operations will now be supported by the addition of 10 Bell 525s and five Leonardo AW189s to its Sikorsky S-92 fleet. Deliveries commence in 1Q25.
A fleet of 10 Bell 525s have been ordered for North Sea offshore operations.
Read this story in our March 2024 printed issue.

Norwegian state-owned multinational energy company Equinor has, after an extensive process, qualified new helicopter types for passenger transport on the Norwegian continental shelf (NCS). Under contracts with the manufacturers, Equinor will receive 10 new Bell 525 helicopters and five Leonardo AW189 helicopters.

Since 2016, Equinor has only used Sikorsky S-92 aircraft (after replacing EC225) for personnel transport and SAR services on the NCS. Operators Bristow and CHC currently operate 46 Sikorsky S-92s there, 24 of which are under contract with Equinor. The helicopters are mainly used for transport services, but also for SAR.

“These helicopter types will supplement the current Sikorsky S-92. All three helicopter models meet stringent safety requirements. By increasing from one to three helicopter models on the NCS we get more flexibility and regularity,” says Kjetil Hove, executive vice president, exploration and production Norway.

The first two helicopters will be delivered by Leonardo in the first quarter of 2025. In 2026, Leonardo will deliver three more, and Bell four helicopters. The additional six helicopters from Bell will be delivered in line with the agreed production plan for the period 2027-30.

“Our relationship with Equinor will enhance the standard of innovation for oil and gas missions and North Sea operations,” says Bell CCO Danny Maldonado. “The Bell 525 technology provides a generational leap forward and will revolutionise offshore oil and gas operations by providing enhanced safety capabilities, reliability and optimised operations.”

Representing Bell in Norway, Norwegian Aviation and Defense Group is proud to have supported the choosing of the Bell 525 as the new platform.

“Bell has delivered aircraft and reliable services for more than 30 years to Norwegian operators, both in the government and commercial spheres, and will continue to do the same to the Norwegian Continental Shelf and the energy sector. We are looking forward to developing this further with Equinor,” says Norwegian Aviation and Defense Group chief executive Ole Petter Bakken.

Unions and safety delegates comment in a joint statement: “All Equinor unions, including the safety delegates, have been thoroughly involved in the process and are positive about this initiative. These helicopters have the quality and characteristics that we need offshore.”

Ørjan Kvelvane, Equinor senior vice president for joint operations support, adds: “We depend on safe and efficient logistics operations to maintain a high activity level on the NCS well into the future. The new models feature technological improvements in terms of pilot support systems, passenger comfort and noise reduction.”

The contract negotiations had been completed before the fatal accident on 28 February involving a Sikorsky S-92 operated by Bristow on behalf of Equinor.

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