EC225s For Hire?

MHS Aviation H225. Airbus

SHAH ALAM: Five EC225s for hire? On June 16 it was reported that Petronas was terminating the charter contract for five EC225 helicopters with MHS Aviation, a subsidiary of Boustead Bhd.

From the Star:

The 10-year contract, with an option to extend for another five years, was previously estimated to be worth about RM3bil. In a filing with Bursa Malaysia, Boustead said its 51%-owned subsidiary MHS, the country’s largest civil helicopter operator, had received a letter dated June 9 from Petronas Carigali giving a 90 days’ notice of its intention to terminate “without cause” the contract for the provision of rotary wing aircraft, equipment and services for heavy type aircraft – EC225.

MHS Aviation EC225. Airbus

Two days later, Petronas came out with a statement on the termination:

“The termination is within Petronas Carigali’s contractual rights, following the service suspension of the EC225 since April 2016 due to safety concerns arising from a fatal accident involving the same aircraft model in Norway in the same month of last year,” it said in a statement over the weekend.

Under the June 2011 contract, MHS, which is 51% owned by Boustead, provides the services of five EC225 helicopters from Kertih, Terengganu, for the transportation of personnel to offshore facilities operated by Petronas’ exploration and production arm Petronas Carigali in Peninsular Malaysia.

Petronas noted also that the suspension of the EC225 service by the Norwegian and UK civil aviation authorities had yet to be lifted.

“Most major oil and gas companies have also ceased using the aircraft model pending assurance of its safety and airworthiness,” it said

MHS Aviation EC225

It must be noted that the suspension of the EC225 – now marketed by Airbus Helicopters as H225 service are currently limited to Norway and UK only and in Malaysia it was Petronas which decided to stop using the helicopters. DCA as usual deferred to the regulating authority, in this case EASA.

RMAF EC725 flying at the opening ceremony

The military version – EC725/H225M – was never affected by the incidents though checks were mandated. Some air forces in the region including Malaysia had stopped using the aircraft for a period of time last year although RMAF never confirmed it officially.

Anyhow, despite the safety concerns noted by Petronas, it appears the termination of the EC225 contract, presented an opportunity for government agencies to expand their rotary wing fleet for the last decade or so. The agencies that came to mind are the Malaysian Coast Guard and the police.

MMEA AW139 M72-03. Apart from its duty with APMM, the helicopter is also used for various other duties. Picture taken in late 2013. Malaysian Defence

By leasing these five helicopters to the government, Boustead will recover some of the money it invested in MHS Aviation. Indeed the 10-year Petronas contract was cited as the business case for Boustead in taking a 51 % stake in MHS Aviation in 2010.

The EC225 will only need limited modification to be used in SAR and utility role. A rescue hoist, a search light and a electro-optical turret could easily be fitted on the helicopter to extend its capability.

Safran EuroFlir 410

Indeed Japan Coast Guard used its EC225/H225 for security enforcement, territorial coastal activities, and disaster relief missions according to a release issued by Airbus on June 21, in announcing the deal for three new helicopters for the agency.
Japan Coast Guard EC225

Please note that the idea to lease this helicopters to the government is from me though I think Boustead officials will be thinking in the same line. Perhaps APMM and police officials will disagree but the EC225 is a logical answer to their needs especially when support and maintenance facilities are already well established locally.
The Goodrich hoist fitted on a Super Puma helicopter. Anthony Pecchi.

Airbus also has an EC225/H225 simulator operating in Subang which will allow quick entry into service. With five airframes available, two could be used operationally – for both APMM and police use or one of them – with one used for training with the other two in maintenance. The two operatonal helicopters could be stationed in Subang and Miri (at the MHS Aviation hangar).
One of the two AW139 leased to PDRM. Note the rescue hoist.

As the RMAF is not keen on pre-used aircraft, I am leaving them from these discussions altogether.

–Malaysian Defence

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About Marhalim Abas 1729 Articles
Shah Alam

15 Comments

  1. The most obvious govenment user should be the TUDM.

    Boustead, is left with only 4 EC225 if not mistaken, most others on lease has been returned to their lessors. If those EC225 would go to the government, should sell them at cost, which is better than losses they would have to bear with the petronas contract cancellation.

    BTW a lot of civillian EC225 are out of work because of the EASA grounding.

    Right now there is about 30 civillian EC225 for sale worldwide at very low prices as there is simply no buyers for them.

    Btw there is another ec225 user in malaysia, awan aspirasi. I wonder what is the status of their 3 ec225s mostly based in Miri.

  2. Quote

    “Please note that the idea to lease this helicopters to the government is from me though I think Boustead officials will be thinking in the same line. Perhaps APMM and police officials will disagree but the EC225 is a logical answer to their needs especially when support and maintenance facilities are already well established locally.”

    I think its was very good idea indeed…

  3. lari topik sikit..mustahil tak kalau ambik sonar sistem dari 4 laksamana class dan pasang di 4 kedah class..baki 2 torpedo tube di laksamana class pasang juga di kedah class..sekurang kurangnya dapat upgrade 4 kedah class jd asw corvette pada harga yang murah.

    Reply
    Rasanya sonar sistem Laksamana class dah lama kena scrap…

  4. Ali,

    Radar, sonar, fire director dan CMS Laksamana semua dari 1980’s – dah lama inoperable [obsolescent].

    Kamal,

    On paper yes but what added value is there in the army binning its
    S-61s [that it already has] and getting pre-owned H225s? At least with the S-61s more passengers can be carried and it can under sling heavier cargoes than the H225s. For that matter, I’m not sure what weight the H225/Cougar is certified to sling and whether the RMAF does so.

    Since we’re on the subject of under slinging loads; the Indian army has found that only the Chonook has been certified to under sling M777s. The IAF has made clear that it can’t under sling M777s with its Mil-26s as it’s not certified and lacks the needed hooks/slings.

  5. IMO the H225s would be perfect for the MMEA. The only issue here is that it would then have AW139s, Dauphins and H225s : 3 different types of helis for a small air wing to support but if the H225 were leased, maintenance could be out sourced.

    With regards to the RMAF; it previously had a requirement for additional Cougars but whether the requirement is still there is the question. Another question is does the RMAF at this juncture even need additional Cougars given that the MMEA AW139s and Dauphins; the police has Squirrels and AW139s; the army has
    A-109s and S-61s; Bomba has Mil-17s/Mil-8s and the RMN has Super Lynxs and Fennecs – all of which from time to time perform mercy flights and assist in SAR which in the past was the RMAF’s sole responsibility.

    Now that other services and organisations have their own lift assets and the the RMAF is not faced with a situation like during the 2nd Emergency when S-61 crews sometimes flew 3-4 sorties a day in support of the army and police; my guess is that the RMAF’s Cougars and S-61s are sufficient for its current operational needs.

    Reply
    MMEA already out-sourced the servicing of its air assets.

  6. Masaalah Malaysia ialah banyak agensi yang membuat tugas yang sama atau bertindih.Semua nak aset baru atau tambahan dan sepatutnya agensi pertahanan yang Utama dapat Mercedes atau BMW akhir sekali dapat kancil untuk diagihkan atau wau untuk diterbangkan dan juga bot ikan untuk mengarungi samudera

  7. The Marine Police should have been absorbed by the MMEA and Badawi apparently agreed but eventually it didn’t happen. A big problem, was that the fledging MMEA only had so many positions for the various ranks and that people in the Marine Police had to go somewhere but there was no place for them in the MMEA. Granted there may be overlaps but the MMEA and the Marine Police are allocated different operational zones and the Marine Police only operates up to a certain NM. Having the 3 armed services and the MMEA makes sense; after all they all perform different roles.

    The one organisation that should be dissolved IMO is Rela [its role on paper should be performed by Polis Bantuan/auxiliary police]
    and we should stop issuing organisations like the Immigrant Department and Customs with camo uniforms; pointless and silly.

    Reply
    The marine police simply did not want to be absorb into the MMEA and there was nothing in the books for the government to force them to do so. It must be noted that the marine police got their own act as well so that held up their stand. That said the government could have done it if they wanted to but it wasnt done. They could also have stood up marine police as the MMEA but it was not done.

  8. Mr.Azlan.

    Saw Immigration Department officers running around,chasing after illegal immigrants on the telly the other day.Nice uniforms but obviously that was it,no hard hats,no batons no arms at all except for raw muscle.Mind you,there are female immigration personals too.So,what if the tables are turn….the illegals brandishing steel rods and such,chasing after the officers! One more thing,are they trained for such task?

  9. Just what are the realistic numbers of helicopters do the various agencies in Malaysia still needs to make their respective departments moving?

    Reply
    Its difficult to say without official numbers but I believe MMEA needs around 15 helicopters, half of them in the size of the EC225s while the police realisticaly needs only around 2 EC225s.

  10. Rozaimi,

    Some Immigration officers are authorised to carry small arms and in some raids, there is a police presence. Yes there is always the possibility that illegal immigrants will get violent and immigration officers should be prepared for such an eventuality but by and large; the vast majority of illegal immigrants don’t get violent. There is a bigger chance of poachers [who are armed] getting violent which is why Perlihatan officers have small arms.

    On another matter the Aussie Department of Defence has released a catalogue of stuff that will be available for sale in the coming years. The list includes PC-9s, LAV-25s and M113s [all a big NO as they’re dated and high mileage] as well as Bushmasters and Hawkeis. The S-70s are not in the list but spares for the type are. In our context the Bushmasters might be useful but then we already have ordered the AV-4. Something else useful but dependent on whether our Charlies will fly in out of area danger zones are ballistic protection kits for C-130s.

  11. Yes Marhalim,

    Indeed the Marine Police fought tooth and nail not to be absorbed into the MMEA, as was expected. It would have been a bureaucratic nightmare given that there were already ‘x’ number of people of various ranks in the Marine Police [some scheduled for promotion and some just bidding time before retirement] and the fact that the MMEA only had so many available slots for these ex Marine Police people.

    Another issue would have been Marine Police people doing things their way once they were in the MMEA. As it is the MMEA did a lot of things the RMN way when it started – to be expected given that the bulk of the initial cadre were ex RMN or RMN on secondment/loan – eventually as new people without an RMN background entered the MMEA; the MMEA started doing things its way.

  12. APMM will not take them. They can’t fund the beast. In fact they turn down a better deal which was offered a lease for brand new frame when time was better than present.
    The realistic time frame would be probably after 2020 and if GFS gets a good experience from 175, that would be MMEA’s benchmark. 225 is too much helicopter for them.

    Azlan,
    EC225/725 can actually sling more, even compared to a S-61 with both engine and blade mod. But only if they strip off the EC225 to near VFR with no option equipment, these frame in discussion can do less than 4t.

    Marhalim,
    You can’t be serious saying police need even 1 225…

    Reply
    Yes I am serious, this was even talked about before the Lahad Datu incident.

  13. Marhalim,
    225 are good for ultra long range at full load. Neither these are PDRMs requirement. They once talk about ATR with EO long endurance aerial surveillance with part time charter or vice versa and then before that they had another one to field 27 light twin rotories, 2 at each state, 3 at KL. Non of these crazy ideas are serious. If they do, the brand new 139s would not have nice leather wrapped couch seats and have most of their light twins becoming christmas tree.

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