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NHV hits flying hour milestone with the AW169 in Blackpool


Photo courtesy of Danny Nixon/Rotor Imagery.

At the end of 2020, while COVID was putting most of the world into lockdown, NHV was expanding with a new base in Blackpool and bringing the AW169 into the UK oil & gas market.

There is an energy-rich stretch of the Irish Sea that hosts several offshore platforms, providing the UK with oil and gas, and Blackpool has become the ideal base for NHV’s offshore helicopter operations. From the new base, NHV won the contract to provide passenger transfer services for Spirit Energy and later added ENI’s East Irish Sea operations. Tom Freeman, Base Manager of Blackpool says, “2020-2021 was an interesting and challenging time to set up a new base and commence operations for our new clients. We are delighted that we managed to succeed and are going from strength to strength primarily due to our incredibly dedicated team who strive to deliver the best service for our clients.”

NHV is proud to have become the launch partner of the Leonardo AW169 aircraft in the UK oil & gas market, with the introduction of this latest helicopter type into its fleet. The AW169 was chosen as the optimal solution when performing the required services in the East Irish Sea, given the limitations of some of the offshore helidecks. This state-of-the-art aircraft is the latest generation twin-turbine helicopter, featuring class-leading performance and a versatile capability in the most demanding operating conditions. The AW169 avionics system uses the very latest technology in the rotary-wing industry with its design entirely managed in-house by the helicopter manufacturer, Leonardo. The AW169 features the most modern platform in the light-intermediate category, incorporating very intuitive touch screens instead of control panels, making a huge weight and space-saving. The Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) mode is a great feature, allowing to run one engine without the rotor blades turning, providing electrical power to systems to allow for a safer and quieter turnaround when required.

Gareth Bithell, Chief Pilot at NHV Blackpool says, “The AW169 is a very capable aircraft in the offshore shuttle environment, and in poor conditions, as it is rated to sea state 6, it also has strong ditching capabilities and has flown in 60kt winds. At NHV, we find it can handle strong winds and turbulence with ease.” With the pandemic challenging all business operations, NHV nevertheless enjoyed a successful 2021 and beginning of 2022, reaching over 1,550 flying hours with the AW169 from Blackpool, a huge milestone, while remaining as flexible as possible to support COVID flights, collecting offshore passengers experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, and safely bringing them back onshore.