Offshore energy and search-and-rescue are the hottest markets on the civil side. The company is bidding on three SAR tenders that could bring in orders for 20-30 S-92s, says Mick Maurer, Sikorsky's president. The S-76D has secured a SAR launch order for up to 10 helicopters, and China's transport ministry is ordering up to eight. Overall, the Chinese market could be worth $1.6 billion over four years, he says.
Offshore demand has boosted the S-92 backlog to $1.5 billion and accounts for 75% of S-76D orders over the last two months, says Maurer. The first two of 16 S-92s for new offshore customer Bond Aviation Group were delivered at the plant here on Oct. 4. After completion, they will enter service on the North Sea in January with Bond's new subsidiary Norsk Helikopterservice in Stavanger, Norway.
The two S-92s are being delivered four months earlier than had been planned when the 16-aircraft order was placed in December 2011 to help Bond enter as the third player in the Norwegian North Sea market, says Richard Mintern, CEO for the U.K., Northern Europe and Australia. Norsk operates one helicopter in the U.K. but is bidding on several platform crew-change contracts on the Norwegian continental shelf. While the initial focus is on offshore, Norsk plans to have a SAR capability in place by early 2014.
Mintern also expects to field the S-92 with new subsidiary Bond Helicopters Australia, looking to break into that country's offshore market. “We anticipate the S-92 appearing in Australia. We have an air operator's certificate with a Bell 412 and have two Australian-equipped [Eurocopter] EC225s waiting for a home,” he says. “Our feedback is they want a robust third entrant, and we have the financial capability and operating experience.”