Copterline Passes 10,000 Hour Milestone in S-76C+

Jul. 18, 2004 - Finland-based passenger carrier Copterline has exceeded 10,000 hours of Sikorsky S-76C+ operation. This is quite an achievement for a helicopter airline where each flight sector is only 18-minutes, served by two S-76C+ aircraft.

In a striking display of reliability, Copterline's two S-76C+ aircraft have achieved an overall dispatch rate of 99.7 percent on more than 35,000 flights during the company's first four years of scheduled helicopter passenger service between Helsinki, Finland and Tallinn, Estonia.

"The S-76C+ is the only aircraft that can be trusted to handle the demanding Helsinki - Tallinn flight schedule," said Copterline Managing Director Kari Ljungberg. "I am more than happy with the performance and reliability of this fine helicopter."

The schedule requires 170 flights per week. The aircraft entered scheduled service on the route in 2000. Average monthly hours had been 200 per month, but recently the hours climbed to 220 because of an increase in demand.

Copterline links the two capital cities with 14 scheduled S-76 passenger flights per day in each direction, as well as a reduced schedule on weekends. The S-76 carries 12 passengers and the 18-minute flight saves travelers more than two hours each way compared with standard airline service between the airports.

Copterline is Finland's largest privately held helicopter operator. Copterline is a JAA licensed operator and maintenance station with 9 helicopters and 98 employees.

"Copterline is a first class, professional operation, and we are pleased with the contribution that the S-76 has made to its success," said Jeff Pino, Sikorsky's Senior Vice President-Business Development.

Other airlines that use the S-76 for scheduled passenger service include East Asia Airlines of Macau, which operates three S-76C+ aircraft, supplemented by Heli Hong Kong's two S-76C+ aircraft. East Asia Airlines achieves 5,000 total flight hours per year in the challenging hot and humid environment of the South China Sea. On a typical day, the East Asia S-76 fleet averages 58 flights a day, leaving every 16 minutes.

Helijet International Airways of Canada uses S-76s for regularly scheduled service between Vancouver and Victoria, British Columbia, as well as international service to Seattle, Washington. Helijet's S-76s fly on average 1,500 to 1,800 hours per year.

The S-76C+ helicopter is recognized as offering the best combination of speed, range, cabin comfort and space, sophisticated all-weather avionics capability, reliability and operating cost. A civil aircraft in the 5 metric tons weight class, the S-76C+ features twin turbine engines, a glass cockpit, and a dual digital autopilot. It provides cabin seating for up to 12 passengers for offshore oil and airline transport, six to eight for executive transport, and carries two patients with four medical attendants for emergency medical missions. Superb flight controls, high speed and long range also make the S-76 the best offshore search and rescue helicopter in its class. Maximum speed is 287 kilometers per hour, and range is up to 800 kilometers. Sikorsky has delivered more than 550 S-76 aircraft.

Sales of Sikorsky's innovative S-76 have reached a 20-year high as VIP customers and offshore oil operators continue to populate their fleets with the high-performance helicopter. Since December 2002, Sikorsky has received contracts for 60.

The S-76C+ is a venerable fixture in offshore oil, corporate, SAR and EMS activities across the globe. Recent milestones for the S-76 include the S-76C+ receiving The Robb Report's 2003 award for "Best Luxury Helicopter," and an S-76A currently in airline service surpassing the 25,000-hour mark.

An uprated version of the proven S-76 helicopter, the S-76C+ combines the rugged S-76B airframe with the more capable, FADEC-controlled Turbomeca Arriel 2S1 engine. It offers improved single engine and hot-high performance while retaining the efficient, long-range cruise of the earlier models.

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