Eurocopter opens new base at Grand Central airport


Eurocopter Southern Africa Ltd (ESAL), which supports more than 230 helicopters operated throughout the sub-continent, has moved to a new and bigger base at Grand Central Airport, close to Johannesburg and Pretoria.

ESAL’s previous base was spread across four buildings at Lanseria Airport, north-west of Johannesburg. CEO, Fabrice Cagnat explains that, “ESAL outgrew its Lanseria premises. Our new facilities at Grand Central enable us to double our capacity. It also lets us bring everything together under one roof at a base which is conveniently located for our operators and customers”.

Linden Birns, PR for Eurocopter Southern Africa, said Lanseria was designed for only 25 staff, but in the end had around 80. He added that Eurocopter finished the move to Grand Central on Monday.
“Our new hi-tech facility incorporates a much bigger maintenance area, allowing us to accommodate more helicopters for inspections and maintenance,” added Cagnat. “With expanded and dedicated workshops for rotor blades, dynamic components and electrical components and systems, we are able to increase our service, repair and overhaul capabilities,” he explained.

The new base also incorporates a training centre with class rooms, several meeting rooms, a rest and hospitality area with satellite television and internet access.

The new facilities represent a R10 million investment for Eurocopter. “It’s one that we’re prepared to make. While we have a well-established presence and market share in the region, it is clear to us that there are positive growth prospects in sub-Sahara Africa. We want to ensure we’re suitably positioned and equipped to take on additional work and to support our continually expanding client base,” said Mr Cagnat.

ESAL’s 2 000 square metre Lanseria base accommodated just eight helicopters, while the new 4 300 square metre Grand Central site incorporates 16 helicopter bays and a state-of-the-art parts store.

Unlike Lanseria, which is located in the countryside about 40 minutes drive from the central business district, Grand Central is adjacent to the main artery motorway linking Johannesburg and Pretoria and is also on the brand new high-speed “Gautrain” railway line linking Johannesburg, Pretoria and O.R. Tambo International Airport with Sandton, which is Southern Africa’s main commercial and hotel district.

Eurocopter Southern Africa Pty. Ltd. was formed in 1994. Although its current headquarters are in Johannesburg, it also has service centres in Cape Town and Durban. ESAL, which currently has a staff complement of close to 80 employees, generated a turnover of R351 million in 2009.

The company can also count on its recently established Training Academy, also now based at Grand Central, to further develop business. This academy provides type rating and technical training for helicopter pilots and engineers for customers across the region. More than 150 pilots and 220 engineering personnel have undergone training at the Academy.

Late last year Eurocopter said it experienced a 35% increase in its Southern African business as countries in the region invest in airborne law-enforcement and civic emergency response capabilities.