Heli-Union Looks at Alternative Markets

Over the past two years, Toussus-Le-Noble based Heli-Union has embarked upon a strategy of diversification. As Jean-Baptiste Olry, the company’s Head of Sales and Operations told Tangent Link: “We were once focused more on the oil and gas industry, but now we want to diversify into other areas”.

The unwillingness by oil and gas companies to fly the EC 225 was one of the reasons for the strategic evolution. Today, the company has 33 helicopters in its fleet, including two H145s (in Argentina for SAR), 13 Dauphin N3s, seven S-76++ and seven AW139s.

This year it covered the Australian company Woodside’s SAR operation in Myanmar with three AW139s, which were based at several remote locations, according to Olry.

Over the past three years it has also been training Cameroon Air force pilots to fly helicopters on Guimbral Cabri at its new Angouleme training facility near Bordeaux. “We have set up an ab initio training course there, and so far trained around 25 Cameroon pilots. The first female Cameroon pilot completed the course this year. We are offering this service to several air forces in western Africa. We are here at the Tangent Link SAR conference to talk with potential customers about our SAR service, and that is why we have our H225 in the exhibition.”

Heli-Union also runs a Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) operation at Tousuus-Le-Noble and recently opened a secondary facility at Pau airport in south-west France. It covers maintenance needs for the French Air Force, Navy and Army’s Dauphin, Caracal and Cougar fleet. “We are offering these services to international customers too. In the future the company will also be bidding for the UN helicopter passenger transport contract as we continue to diversify our services. We have already bid for the ECHO (European Civil Protection Humanitarian Aid operations) programme.”

Alan Warnes
Independent Journalist