Babcock Mission Critical Services Onshore has won a contract from windfarm operator Dong Energy for helicopter support. This has resulted in an order for Airbus Helicopters for two Turbomeca-powered H135s, which will be fitted with a hoist.
The aircraft will support the 660 MegaWatt Walney Extension wind farm in the Irish Sea between Britain’s Lancashire coast and the Isle of Man, expected to be the world’s largest offshore installed capacity when inaugurated. It will consist of 40 8MW MHI Vestas and 47 7MW Siemens wind turbines across an area of 145 sq.km, adding to the existing Walney 1, Walney 2 and Barrow wind farms in the same area. While these have been supported by ship up to now, it is feasible that Babcock could get more helicopter work from these earlier installations.
In October 2016, Dong Energy submitted a planning application (ref B12/2016/0762) for “Construction of an Operations and Maintenance (O&M) Heliport Facility, on land at Walney Aerodrome. Proposals include the construction of a Hangar with associated apron, a flight operations building (incorporating an office and crew facilities), helipad, refueling facilities with on-site fire fighting facilities and associated car parking. Proposals also include upgrade works to part of the internal road system, installation of utilities and a dedicated Gatehouse to provide a separate access route and security point for the Heliport Facility.” A decision is expected on this application in the next 2-3 months by Barrow Borough Council.
Babcock currently operates one EC135T2 on windfarm operations, supporting the Greater Gabbard offshore wind farm from a dedicated base at Lowestoft in Suffolk. This new five year Walney contract is a big success for Babcock, as Dong Energy currently contracts with Danish operator UniFly for helicopter support off the east coast of the UK. Unifly have one EC135 based out of Humberside Airport for this work.
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