Patriot Aerospace has acquired the interests of British International Helicopter Services (BIH), making the aviation group the UK’s largest domestically owned helicopter operator.
The deal will see Sir Peter Rigby’s aviation company take over BIH’s military support contracts in the UK and overseas. Representing a significant move towards realising the group’s plan to create a leading British commercial helicopter presence in the international aviation market, the agreement makes Patriot the only UK owned operator in the offshore helicopter sector.
Launched in 1986, BIH is a well-regarded operator of medium and large helicopters with particular emphasis on offshore operations and in the defence sector. For more than a decade the company has operated the Flag Officer Sea Training (FOST) helicopter support programme to provide services to the Royal Navy through HMS Raleigh and the sea training areas it manages.
A second contract provides the Ministry of Defence with helicopter services in support of British forces in the Falklands and provides the helicopter lift capability for troops and materials around the South Atlantic islands. Other commercial helicopter activities are undertaken on an ad hoc basis.
The combined businesses operate a fleet of 25 helicopters and employ over 100 personnel. Following the acquisition the BIH operations will become an integrated part of the Patriot group and form the basis of further growth and development focused particularly on the commercial aviation field.
“The acquisition of BIH provides Patriot with substantial experience and expertise in offshore helicopter operations and in providing support to the defence and military sectors. These capabilities extend and enhance the group’s existing in-house engineering and training services, and will enable us to compete even more effectively for opportunities in the expanding UK and international aviation markets,” said Paul Southall, Group Finance Director, at Patriot Aerospace.
“We are delighted to announce the completion of a deal that not only brings another successful operation under the Patriot banner, but also makes us the largest British owned helicopter company in the UK. We believe that, in order to remain economically sustainable, British Aviation needs substantial, proven firms with sufficient weight and breadth of expertise to challenge the major overseas players.”
Tony Jones, BIH Managing Director, commented : “Since 1986 British International Helicopter Services has built a substantial reputation in commercial military services and we are delighted to be joining the Patriot team. I look forward to working together as we move to consolidate and expand the group’s commercial operations across the UK.”
Patriot Aerospace Group, which already includes Patriot Aviation, London Helicopter Centres and Veritair, can now add military support to a service list that includes Police and Air Ambulance capability, commercial helicopter support including surveying, pipeline patrols, TV mast calibration, load lifting, film work etc, plus VIP and commercial charter, flight training for both commercial and private pilots, and helicopter engineering across a wide range of helicopter types through four bases in the United Kingdom.
The acquisition also adds a fifth base to the group’s operations, Newquay, alongside Redhill, Coventry, Cardiff and Enniskillen.
Patriot is committed to a strategy of enhancing its private flying and charter activities with established expertise in the more stable commercial sector. In 2012, the group acquired passenger transport, surveys, offshore support and air ambulance experts Veritair.
About Patriot Aerospace
Following the acquisition of British International Helicopters, Patriot Aerospace is now the largest British owned helicopter operator and the only British owned company in the offshore helicopter / EMS sector operating in the United Kingdom. The combined entity operates a helicopter fleet of 25, principally owned aircraft, and employs over 100 personnel. Patriot Aerospace is part of The Rigby Group.
About British International Helicopter Services (BIH)
BIH was formed in May 2000 with the backing of 3i and the Bank of Scotland through a management buy in of non-oil related operations of Scotia Helicopters and Canadian Helicopter Corporation (CHC). It was established to operate a mixed fleet of helicopters to serve the civilian and military markets in the UK and overseas. BIH is one of the leading suppliers of helicopter services in the UK and owns and operates 11 helicopters ranging from 4 seat utility aircraft to 28 seat high capacity equipment.
The company has a long-standing relationship with the Ministry of Defence providing helicopter support to the Falkland Island Garrison and Flag Officer Sea Training and Joint Maritime Courses in Plymouth and off the west coast of Scotland.
BIH undertakes its own maintenance and has also diversified into providing third party helicopter and fixed wing maintenance services and training. It is certified to BS EN ISO 9001:2000 by the British Standards Institute and holds a JAR145 maintenance approval.
About The Rigby Group
Formed in 1975, The Rigby Group is the parent company for a portfolio of privately owned and highly successful businesses operating across Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. The Group comprises operating businesses in five key divisions – technology, aviation, property, hotels and investments. Group revenue for the financial year ending March 2012 was in excess of £2.7bn with net assets of £300m. The group employs over 5,000 staff worldwide.
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