The first commercial flight of the much anticipated new generation AgustaWestland AW189 helicopter took place on July 21, 2014, as Bristow flew eight passengers out to the Cygnus field in the Southern North Sea.
The aircraft is the first of two AW189s to be stationed at Bristow’s Norwich base and is dedicated to GDF SUEZ E&P UK Ltd for transport between Norwich and the operator’s Cygnus field 120 nautical miles away. The new aircraft is expected to complete one return flight each weekday with the potential to increase the service to three daily flights as the Cygnus field develops through the drilling, hook-up and commissioning, and later operational phases. Cygnus is the largest gas discovery in the SNS in the last 25 years. First gas is expected in late 2015.
Bristow is the first helicopter operator to introduce the AW189 and has a further four of the aircraft on order for oil and gas operations.
Mike Imlach, Vice President of Operations and Managing Director of Bristow Helicopters Ltd, said: “We’re excited to be the launch customer for what is a superb aircraft and an important addition to our fleet. Bristow has worked closely with AgustaWestland throughout the aircraft’s development and the result is an aircraft of the highest technical specification with state of the art safety technology which will enable us to offer our clients the best possible capabilities.
“We are a long term partner of GDF SUEZ and we look forward to working to support their operations in the coming years as the Cygnus field develops.”
Jean-Claude Perdigues, Managing Director, GDF SUEZ E&P UK Ltd, commented: “We are pleased to be the first operator to deploy this new generation AW189 aircraft, which is of the highest technical and safety specification, for passenger transfers as the first installation campaign on Cygnus continues apace.”