19-Apr-2021 Source: HeliHub.com
Local press in the African country of Zimbabwe is reporting the arrival of an Airbus EC225 helicopter at capital city Harare’s international airport on Thursday 15th April. The helicopter was transported on board an Antonov An-124 freighter operated by Volga-Dnepr Airlines (registration RA-82077), which had arrived from Rzeszow in Poland.
The departure point suggests to HeliHub.com that this is not a new aircraft, but an older one refurbished. Rzeszow is a storage location and MRO facility run by Heli-One at which helicopter market intelligence company Parapex Media currently records a significant number of offshore- and VIP-equipped helicopters in storage. These include AS332L2 and EC225s which stopped flying after the Bergen accident, and a selection of S92s handed back to lessors. It is thus logical to believe that the helicopter air-freighted in is a refurbished AS332L2 or EC225, most likely the latter. The stored airframes include two VIP H225s taken in part-exchange by Leonardo from the Algerian Air Force when they were supplied with AW101s.
Local media outlet ZimLive quotes a military source saying that the country’s current AS532 Cougar has “safety concerns” and that the purchase was approved due to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s expected increase in domestic travel to remote parts of the country leading up to the national elections in 2023.