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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

SAF-Heliportugal Rebrands as UHS

By Thierry Dubois

Left to right, United Helicopter Services’ executives Moacyr Cavichiolo Filho, Helibarra’s head of maintenance, José Carlos Coelho, Heliportugal’s CEO, Christophe Rosset, SAF Hélicoptères’ chairman, Raimundo Nonato M. Filho, Helibarra’s Director president and Pedro Silveira, UHS’ president. Thierry Dubois Photo
United Helicopter Services (UHS) group made its first appearance under its new name at Helitech 2010, where founding companies Heliportugal and SAF announced further expansion. A major growth target is Brazil and its offshore market—a local operator, Helibarra, is now part of UHS. A recent addition has also been Santay Air in Turkey. “We wanted to have a global image and yet retain local names,” said SAF chairman Christophe Rosset. Therefore, companies will be designated, for instance: “SAF, member of UHS.” The group operates a total 63 aircraft, including 59 helicopters and four business jets and turboprops. Employing 300 people, UHS flies an annual 30,000 hours in missions ranging from firefighting to EMS, executive charter, aerial filming, construction, geophysical exploration and offshore transport. “We took a minority stake [due to Brazil’s rules on company ownership] in Helibarra in June,” UHS president Pedro Silveira said. Helibarra has so far specialized in private helicopter management—it currently has contracts for 16. However, as director Raimundo Nonato explained, the company already has experience in offshore transport, since some owners charter their aircraft out for such operations. Since 2008, Helibarra has flown about 1,000 offshore hours with EC135 and EC155 types. In the near future, UHS may purchase more helicopters. According to Rosset, medium twins, like Eurocopter’s Dauphin family and AgustaWestland’s AW139, may be the first category to be addressed. “There is a potential to use Kamov Ka-32s in Brazil for electric power lines construction”, Rosset added.

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