Angolan helicopter operator SonAir will in the first and second quarters of this year take delivery of three new EC225 helicopters leased from the Milestone Aviation Group.
Milestone Aviation recently ordered 30 EC225 rotorcraft from Airbus Helicopters. Three of these new machines will be used by SonAir, a subsidiary of the Angolan national oil company Sonangol, for airlift duties supporting Angola’s oil and gas sector.
The three EC225s will join the fleet of Airbus Helicopters-built EC225, AS332 L2 and AS365 N3 rotorcraft already in the SonAir fleet, which numbers over 25 helicopters. SonAir’s existing EC225s were grounded last year following a gearbox issue with the EC225 but were the first in the world to resume passenger flights following a gearbox fix.
SonAir has a total of 11 EC225s located at its Luanda, Angola operating base, of which nine are dedicated to crew-change missions for offshore oil and gas platforms. SonAir’s Eurocopter fleet of aircraft also includes four AS332 L2 and three AS365 N3 helicopters.
“As the largest African oil and gas helicopter operator, we rely on the EC225, with its range, capacity and overall performance, to perform challenging missions in tropical environments. This transaction for near-term EC225 deliveries allows us to maintain our leadership position in the offshore oil and gas market,” said SonAir CEO Joao Andrade.
“Milestone has provided us with customized, flexible terms on operating leases for EC225s that meet our needs, allowing us to fulfil the requirements of our customers, delivering value and operational leverage for our company.”
“SonAir is one of the world’s great helicopter operators, and Angola is an important and growing region for offshore oil and gas production,” said Milestone Chairman and CEO Richard Santulli. “We are proud to announce what we intend to be a long and mutually beneficial partnership with SonAir. It is testament to the global demand and desirability of the EC225 and our strong relationship with Airbus Helicopters that we are able to meet SonAir’s requirements and initiate our partnership at this time.”
“This leasing arrangement with SonAir is another endorsement of the EC225’s capabilities to serve in the most demanding operating environments,” added Dominique Maudet, Airbus Helicopters’ Executive Vice President Global Business and Services. “Worldwide, some 30 different users are flying the EC225, with the helicopter logging over 300,000 flight hours to date.”