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Thursday, March 1, 2007

Rotorcraft Report: Canada's Discovery Air Builds Rotorcraft Operations

Discovery Air has expanded its inventory of helicopters and, at the same time, expanded its footprint in the Canadian helicopter industry.

Discovery Air, based in London, Ontario, in January agreed to buy VIH Aviation Group of Victoria, British Columbia for $154 million (Canadian). The move nearly doubles the size of Discovery’s fleet, from 70 to 130 helicopters. Founded in 1955 as Vancouver Island Helicopters, VIH flies Sikorsky, Kamov, Eurocopter and Bell helicopters. VIH operates 60 helicopters and serves charter markets in Western Canada and the north in forestry, oil and gas, air ambulance, mining exploration and aerial construction. Its Cougar Helicopters unit serves energy industry operations off Canada’s Atlantic Seaboard. It is the first company in Canada to operate the S-92.

The Discovery Air Group includes Great Slave Helicopters, Ltd., based in Yellowknife in the Northwest Territories and a key player in the north part of Canada; Hicks and Lawrence Ltd., a fixed-wing company in Ontario, Canada, and Air Tindi, also a fixed-wing company based in Yellowknife. Discovery Air acquired Great Slave in June 2006 and Air Tindi in December. The VIH acquisition will boost the number of Discovery’s employees to more than 400.

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