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Borneo Bulletin: Brunei Shell Petroleum Co unveils fleet of Sikorsky 92As

By Liza Mohd
Brunei Shell Petroleum Co Sdn Bhd (BSP) has marked a milestone in the history of its aviation department with the transition of its helicopter fleet from Sikorsky S61N to the Sikorsky S92A. This year also marks the 40th year of operations using the S61N helicopters.

Present as the guest of honour to unveil a fleet of three Sikorsky S92A at Anduki Airfield in Seria yesterday was Minister of Energy at the Prime Minister’s Office, Pehin Dato Seri Setia Hj Yahya Dato Paduka Hj Bakar.

In the welcoming remarks by BSP’s Managing Director Dr Grahaeme Henderson, it was highlighted that BSP is the only organisation in the Shell Group that operates offshore helicopter services as an entirely internally managed activity.

BSP’s aviation department, he stated, has not looked back since its historic takeoff in 1967 and has continued to make remarkable progress. In November 1967, BSP took delivery of the Sikorsky S61N, which was the most advanced, large civilian helicopter in production at that time.

Several more S61Ns were added to its fleet over the next two decades and by 1992, BSP has considerably expanded its helicopter fleet strength to six S61NS and one SA-365 Dauphin.

The Aviation Department, he added, plays a vital role in supporting the business operations, particularly in providing offshore transport to its employees.

“It was a role that very often extended far beyond business requirements, especially in the early years when our helicopters offered a crucial assistance to the local community, transporting sick people from remote areas or rescuing stranded flood victims.”

This year, another major step forward was taken in the development of its new aviation service, as BSP acquired a new generation of helicopters – the Sikorsky S92As.

The three S92As were specially shipped from the US on the world’s largest cargo airliner, the Antonov AN-124. Recently, the S92A made its inaugural passenger flight, carrying 15 employees to BSP’s Champion Seven platform.

As of February 2007, BSP’s aviation service has safely conducted more than 171,000 flight hours, including 820,000 takeoffs and landings, transporting over 3.5 million passengers over a 40-year period of uninterrupted operations.

The S92A comes fitted with an array of vastly enhanced safety features, such as the Terrain Avoidance Warning and Traffic Collision Avoidance Systems. It also incorporates lightning sensing and flight management systems only seen in larger airline aircraft.

Dr Henderson, however, stressed that helicopter operations are still viewed as a comparatively high-risk activity across the oil and gas industry.

Therefore, safety has remained from day one a fundamental over-riding factor that drives every aspect of its aviation operations and will continue to be so.

Reiterating on safety, BSP’s Managing Director further said that following a comprehensive review of the company’s safety requirements for offshore travel, all BSP staff and contractors who wish to travel offshore, whether by helicopter or boat, must undergo mandatory safety training.

“In addition, we have recently introduced the Emergency Breathing System, a new integral lifejacket and re-breather, which likewise be part of mandatory safety training for every BSP contractor and staff member offshore.”

Touching on the development of its staff, the aviation department has some top-notch Bruneians, who are helicopter pilots, licensed aircraft maintenance engineers and air traffic controllers.

They have earned professional licences that are globally recognised and respected as among the most demanding qualifications in the aviation profession.

“We have invested heavily in enlarging the talent pool of Bruneians in associated technical and trade positions, such as maintenance technicians, cabin attendants, aviation refuellers, aviation fire and rescue personnel and baggage handlers among many others.”

He concluded that BSP would continue to intensify its efforts and accelerate the development of local citizens who can contribute to the aviation service.
Also present at the unveiling was Belait District Officer Hj Mohammad Hj Abd Rahman as well as senior government officials from various ministries and departments.

The new fleet of S92A, which could accommodate up to 16 people, opens another chapter in the aviation history of BSP and Brunei. The Minister of Energy also toured an exhibition held in conjunction with the event.

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