in General Aviation / Features

African ‘first’ as Caverton operates the Helibus

Posted 9 September 2021 · Add Comment

The first Sikorsky S-92 Helibus to be operated by a wholly locally owned African company is now working in Nigeria, writes Jon Lake.

A new home: 5N-LEE at the Caverton maintenance facility in Lagos. Picture: Caverton Helicopters.

Although Bristow Helicopters has operated S-92s in the west African country for some years, Caverton Helicopters is the first African operator to fly the Sikorsky S-92 Helibus.

The aircraft has been leased to Lagos-based Caverton by the Milestone Aviation Group, part of the GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS) portfolio. Milestone already leases three AW139s and two S-76C++ helicopters to Caverton.

Michael York, Milestone’s head of emerging markets, said: “The S-92 continues to be the workhorse of the offshore sector and, through this transaction, we are not only cultivating a new operator for this aircraft type but expanding its footprint, which is critical for the industry.”

Previously N299VT on the US civil register, the helicopter was parked up and waiting for a suitable lessor, having been successively owned by the Wells Fargo Bank Northwest NA, and then by the Bank of Utah.

Unusually, the helicopter was shipped into the Nigerian Port Authority’s Tin Can Island Port (TCIP) in Lagos on board the Grimaldi Group ship, Grande Marocco, with other components arriving separately. The aircraft had the local registration 5N-LEE applied after arriving in Nigeria.

Instead of being transported out by road for a first in-country flight from an airport, 5N-LEE was assembled and flown from inside the Port and Terminal Multi-Services Limited (PTML) terminal, after obtaining the necessary approvals from the Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) and the Nigerian Ports Authority.

The airframe and all the imported components were brought together and assembled within the terminal by a team from Caverton, led by chief engineer Sani Amodu.

Caverton will use the helicopter to support an offshore crew change contract.

However, MD, Rotimi Makanjuola, said that the S-92 would also “enable the company to expand into service provision for clients that require additional payload and extended range for their missions, which the S-92 efficiently and safely provides”.


 

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