A New Zealand aviation company is continuing on its expansion path by taking delivery of a brand new helicopter, the first of its kind to arrive in New Zealand.
Kershaw Aviation Group has completed the avionic and equipment fit out of a Eurocopter AS 350 B3e. The aircraft will be used for company projects in Indonesia and join the rest of the Kershaw fleet there around mid-September, with a second B3e aircraft scheduled to arrive in November.
Working exclusively offshore, Kershaw Aviation Group specialises in providing flight support for the high-altitude mineral and exploration industries and holds a major contract in Indonesia working with joint partner Airfast Indonesia.
Operations Manager and director Josh Kershaw said experience had shown that the AS 350 B3 was the ideal medium helicopter for this type of work.
“Our helicopters are required to work in demanding environments supplying logistical support to drilling rigs in some of the most remote parts of Indonesia,” he said.
“We’re required to fly around 1300 hours a year, carrying loads on 100 to 150ft-long lines and operating at altitudes of up to 17,500ft.
“We’re very excited to add this new generation helicopter to our group and look forward to making the most of the technology.”
Mr Kershaw said the new aircraft was “highly spec-ed” to meet client needs and international auditors’ requirements.
“This new B3e has been delivered with several features we haven’t seen before,” he said.
“It comes with dual hydraulics, new tail rotor control linkages, and a new generation turbine engine with increased power and an increase in life to 4,000 hours. It’s also armed with a range of features that increase maximum continuous power from five to thirty minutes.
“It has a new electronic engine control unit, full video and voice recording, Sandel terrain avoiding system and Terrain Awareness Warning System -- the list goes on. It’s pretty impressive.”
Kershaw Aviation Group is managed by a small management team of four who rotate between the Queenstown and Jakarta office. Fifteen support staff of predominantly Kiwi pilots and engineers work a 28-day rotation.
Staff numbers will increase when the second Eurocopter AS 350 B3e arrives in late November after going through the same rigorous fit out and testing process as the current one.
Mr Kershaw said the support of the crew at ‘Helisupport New Zealand’ for the project had been invaluable.
“It’s been a pleasure to work alongside Helisupport in Wanaka with their professional approach and workmanship. It’s been a great team effort from one and all involved in this comprehensive fit out.”
The new helicopter will be test flown and all pilots will conduct training and differences on type with Garden City Helicopters instructor Neil Scott before it is repacked into a container and shipped to Brisbane. There it will be reassembled and flown the 25-hour ‘ferry flight’ into Indonesia by Mr Kershaw and Mr Scott.