Oboronprom, Denel to expand Russian Helicopters service centre


Denel Aviation and Russia’s Oboronprom yesterday signed an agreement to expand the services offered by the Mi-8/17 helicopter service centre at Denel’s Kempton Park facilities.

The agreement, signed at the Paris Air Show, will see the service centre complete overhauls and upgrades of both commercial and military Mi-8/17 helicopters, in addition to providing maintenance services.
“Oboronprom’s partnership with Denel Aviation in helicopter servicing is beneficial to both sides – we are giving our colleagues unique competencies to repair and provide technical maintenance of Russian helicopters, and in return we will be able to broaden our commercial opportunities in the fast-growing African aviation market”, said Dmitry Lelikov, CEO of Oboronprom, part of Russian state corporation Rostec (which controls Russian Helicopters).

On March 26 Denel and Russian Helicopters opened the first servicing and repair facility for Russian helicopters on the African continent, making Denel Aviation the only company accredited to perform maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) work on Russian helicopters in Africa.
“The agreement signed in Paris outlines the future development stages of the service centre, mandates its fitting-out with advanced equipment and defines the transfer of supporting technical documentation that Denel Aviation needs to service the fleet of Russian-built helicopters operating in sub-Saharan Africa,” Russian Helicopters said in a statement. The Russian side will also send technical specialists to South Africa to provide assistance to the centre and to train South African staff.
“We look forward to continuing to develop our joint service project with Denel Aviation, which already provides technical support for Russian-built helicopters in Africa. Expanding the involvement of our South African partners will help us strengthen our position in the regional market, and lay the foundation for further promotion of Russian-built helicopters,” said Dmitry Petrov, CEO of Russian Helicopters.
“Today, Africa has a significant fleet of Mi-8/17 helicopters that need qualified and professional maintenance. We see a great opportunity in our partnership with our Russian colleagues, and all African helicopter operators will benefit from us working together” said Mike Kgobe, CEO of Denel Aviation.

Under the plan, the Denel Aviation facility will become a leading regional service centre, and in future will provide after-sales care and maintenance services for all Russian-built helicopters in the sub-Sahara region.

Kgobe has estimated that there are between 200 and 300 Russian helicopters flying in Sub-Saharan Africa. Denel Aviation hopes to receive business from many of these operators. At the moment there are an estimated 350 Russian Helicopters rotorcraft flying in Africa. The total Russian-made helicopter fleet in Africa stands at around 600, comprising mainly Mi-8/17 and Ka-32 models.

Denel began discussing the establishment of the MRO facility in 2009 and formally registered the project in October 2011. During Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) in September last year, Denel Aviation and Oboronprom signed a partnership agreement, which was followed by Denel sending employees to Novosibirsk.

Denel Aviation is also an accredited service centre for Eurocopter and Lockheed Martin aircraft, including the C-130 Hercules.