An Era Group AW139 (Era Group Photo)
As aircraft operators seek to upgrade their avionics capabilities with satellite communications and real-time maintenance diagnostics, Houston-based Era Group is in the midst of similar decisions.
Era Group has 108 helicopters that the company uses for a variety of operations, including offshore oil and gas, search and rescue (SAR), and executive transport.
"We do have [Honeywell Sky Connect] satellite communications for all of our aircraft," said Chris Bradshaw, Era Group's CEO, during an Aug. 5 phone interview that covered the company's second quarter earnings, its future prospects and avionics systems. "We're able to do positive flight following that provides this information on the status of the aircraft at any given time as well as the weather and sea states in the area where the helicopter is flying. There is a movement in the broader industry to adopt real-time [health and usage monitoring] HUMS on certain models, and that's something we're actively evaluating for our fleet as well."
"For certain models like the S-92 and some of the Leonardo products, it's something that's actively under evaluation," he said.
Among the 108 Era Group helicopters are 36 Leonardo AW139s — the most numerous model in the company inventory — as well as 13 AW119s, 7 AW109s and four Sikorsky S-92s.
For SAR, the company uses forward-looking infrared systems for the AW139s, as well as search pattern assistance, Bradshaw said.
While Era Group operating revenues for the second quarter of 2019 declined $2.2 million compared to the second quarter of last year, Bradshaw said that the company has seen a gradual recovery in offshore oil and gas revenues since the middle of last year, as well as new business, such as dry-leasing contracts in Mexico and emergency response services contracts with the oil and gas industry in Suriname and in the United States with a commercial space provider for four AW139s.