Newcomer to Aberdeen helicopter scene close to unveiling new terminal

Base manager Jamie John and Adam Stone, chief engineer, outside NHV's premises in Dyce.
Base manager Jamie John and Adam Stone, chief engineer, outside NHV's premises in Dyce.

A Belgian challenger to the North Sea’s top three helicopter operators is less than a month away from completing work on a new passenger terminal in Aberdeen.

NHV started transporting workers from Aberdeen International Airport (AIA) to North Sea installations at the start of 2016 as part of a contract with Chevron.

Since then, NHV has been operating out of its new hanger at AIA, while work on its passenger terminal has been on-going.

Completion of the terminal is now just two to three weeks away, Adam Stone, chief engineer at NHV in Aberdeen, said yesterday.

It will have check-in, security, equipment storage and briefing rooms.

Ostend-headquartered NHV is keen to wrestle more work away from rivals Babcock, Bristow and CHC after investing about £14million in the complex.

In addition to the five-year deal with Chevron to carry employees to the Alba, Captain and Erskine fields, NHV has been providing services to Wood Group on an “ad hoc” basis.

Mr Stone also said NHV’s use of Airbus H175s was a big “selling point” in the firm’s efforts to secure new contracts.

He said NHV is the only operator to deploy H175s from Aberdeen and described the aircraft as “more economic, lighter and faster” than other models of helicopter, including Sikorsky S-92s.

S-92s have filled the void created by the decision to ground Super Puma H225s following a crash involving one of the aircraft that left 13 people dead in Norway in April.

NHV expects to raise the number of H175s it has stationed in Aberdeen from two to four or five by the end of the year and increase the number of staff members it employs in the north-east.

NHV, founded in 1997, has a workforce of 25 in Aberdeen, of whom nine are pilots, eight are engineers and the rest are administrative or passenger handling staff.

It is now looking to recruit about two apprentices to beef up its team of helicopter maintenance engineers.

The newcomers will be the first apprentices hired in the UK by NHV, which also has a base at Norwich Airport.

They will spend an initial eight months in Gloucester with training provider Resource Group before completing the rest of the two year programme one-the-job with NHV in Aberdeen.

Mr Stone said NHV would be “investing greatly” in training the new recruits, who would benefit from working on the newest aircraft the industry has to offer – H175s.

Mr Stone also believes the fundamentals of the offshore helicopter business are still strong despite safety concerns which have been raised following the recent disaster in Norway.

“The industry is tighter in a safety sense than ever before,” he said. “It’s expected that people will be nervous but I would say that steps have been taken and that safety is paramount at all times.”