Equinor Broadens Range of Helicopters with New Order

Equinor says it will receive 10 new Bell 525 helicopters (pictured) and five Leonardo AW189 helicopters. (Photo: Bell)
Equinor says it will receive 10 new Bell 525 helicopters (pictured) and five Leonardo AW189 helicopters. (Photo: Bell)

Norwegian oil company Equinor EQNR.OL has ordered 15 new helicopters from manufacturers Leonardo LDOF.MI and Textron's TXT.N Bell, with first deliveries expected next year, broadening the range of available aircraft, it said on Friday.

The announcement came as Norway on Friday resumed helicopter traffic to its offshore oil and gas fields after a deadly crash of a Sikorsky model S-92A this week. An investigation into the cause of the accident is ongoing.

A Sikorsky spokesperson said safety was the company's top priority and that it stood ready to support its customer and the Norwegian investigation.

The temporary halt in offshore helicopter traffic highlighted the Norwegian oil industry's dependence on the Sikorsky S-92A for virtually all transport of people to and from its platforms.

Equinor said negotiations to acquire new helicopters had been completed before the crash that killed one person and injured five others on board when the aircraft plunged into the ocean.

"By increasing from one to three helicopter models on the NCS (Norwegian Continental Shelf) we get more flexibility and regularity," Equinor's head of Norwegian operations, Kjetil Hove, said in a statement.

Equinor said the first two helicopters from Leonardo would be delivered in the first quarter of 2025, while seven would be delivered in 2026, supplementing the S-92A.

The remaining six helicopters would be delivered in the period between 2027 and 2030, Equinor said.

"Today we don't have a plan B. We have a lot of members who are worried and scared of flying," said Mats Thune, an official at Norway's SAFE labour union.

"It's very positive that they take this action right away, but maybe it's a bit too late," he said.

Henrik Fjeldsboe from the largest offshore workers union IE&FLT told Reuters it was good news. "We support the decision that Equinor has made. We've been working towards this goal since the 2016 accident."

In 2016, Norway's oil industry grounded all Airbus Super Puma helicopters following an accident in which 13 people died, leaving the rival S-92A as the only option to transport offshore workers by air.

"Ideally, we should have had this decision years ago, but better late than never," Fjeldsboe added.


(Reuters - Reporting by Stine Jacobsen and Nerijus Adomaitis, editing by Essi Lehto, Terje Solsvik and Jane Merriman)

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