Britain’s Sloane Helicopters opened its base in Northern Ireland at Enniskillen Airport back in 2007 before the recession hit – and it’s no secret that helicopter operations in Northern Ireland have been hit nearly as badly as those in the country of Ireland to the south. Undaunted by this, Sloane are showing a continued commitment to their base there, using the opportunity this presents by putting a focus on Robinson overhaul work.
All owners of Robinson helicopters know that their aircraft will need a full overhaul after 2,200 hours or twelve calendar years, whichever comes round first. Whilst the cost of this exercise is not small, it is a known figure that ise factored into direct operating costs. HeliHub.com asked Sloane’s MD Jeremy Awenat how the cost and timescale compared between shipping an R44 from the UK back to the Robinson factory in Torrance, and how much Sloane charge doing R44 overhauls at Enniskillen.
The cost of an R44 being shipped to Robinson’s Torrance factory for the work equates to £147,000 which includes the standard overhaul, completion of Service Bulletin SB-78A to fit the bladder fuel tank, shipping, reassembly and test flying on return. (This price does not include the cost of any additional defect work required). That whole process takes a long time, and a recently completed overhaul on a British R22 left the owner waiting some ten months before he got his aircraft back.
As a comparison, Sloane’s facility in Enniskillen completes the R44 overhauls for a basic cost of £136,000 including the bladder tank upgrade. The additional benefit it that the overhaul will be completed in about one third of the time. The R44 they are currently overhauling on scheduled for completion in just 3 months. This also means there is a great cost saving in much shorter downtime as the owner does not need to lease in another helicopter to cover the extra six months that the factory overhaul takes.
Sloane also have a successful operation on the Spanish island of Mallorca, from where training and charter work continue in the warmer and more reliable climate it affords. Based out of Son Bonet Airport – one time the island’s primary international field – they operate both R22 and R44 helicopters from there.
Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com
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