• Thursday, May 30, 2024
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BusinessDay

Bristow helicopters: Running oil, gas services with safety

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Airline operations in Nigeria have never been too rosy over the years due to multifaceted challenges bedevilling the sector.

And especially, where everything centres around safety, it’s a Herculean task for the operators.

Bristow helicopters, a leading helicopter operator which now prides itself as the leader in oil and gas services, has been able to defy all odds and conquer the environment in the last 1,001 days.

Since 2003 when it began operations in the oil and gas services, Bristow has steadily risen to prominence by offering unparalleled safe air transport service to both passengers and materials to and from the oil rigs in its modern fleet of aircraft which its say distinguishes it from its contemporaries in the helicopter industry.

The company which is now the market leader in Nigeria’s helicopter industry, has witnessed an immense growth and expansion since its initial entrance into the air business, not only by spreading its footprints across the country’s major cities such as Lagos but also strengthening its foothold at its Port Harcourt headquarters, where it prides as it flagship terminal.

A recent visit to the Port Harcourt base, headed by Jagit Bains, base manager, West Africa business unit, shows the role of the firm’s Zero target principle which centres on; Zero accidents, Zero downtime and Zero complaints as a major catalyst to the firm’s achievements so far.

“Safety is a core value of our operation, and it has helped us drastically curtail human errors during our flight operations, which has been on the upward in contradiction to technical error in recent time,” Bains said.

He added that a range of well-tightened procedures have been effectively implemented to ensure that pilots employ the highest standard of professionalism while flying.

To further buttress this fact, the company at its Port Harcourt headquarters boasts of a contemporary training facility where young pilots are tutored on the techniques of operating in an offshore environment. This, according to the company, is a double response to the regulatory requirement which has continued to evolve overtime and its client’s expectations.

The facility also hosts each pilot’s records to allow for easy audit when the need arises. As part of its safety measures to ensure a smooth operation, the firm also boasts of a flight planning room where flight schedule are prepared and coordinated by experts.

Likewise, as a firm with core competence in flying clients to the oil rigs in the Southern part of the country, Bristow runs a periodic check on its helipad at the rigs to ensure its helicopters land safely at the rigs.

The company, which prides itself as the largest supporter of Africa’s oil and gas industry, clearly differ from its contemporaries in its strategies, attitudes, integrity, precision, and more importantly, perception of, and relationship with the customers who are carefully treated to satisfaction.

Bristow also has an ultra modern and serene passenger terminal at its Port Harcourt base, neatly built to international standard but with Nigeria content. It conveniently seats between 500 and 1,000 passengers with all the modern security mechanisms that would help passengers transit easily.

With safety already a norm in its routine operations, the terminal also hosts a Safety Briefing Room where passengers are always intimated with flying rules before boarding and are also handed a safety jacket endowed with all the necessary gadgets to provide passengers with comfort in the case of any emergency on board.

These efforts at ensuring passengers safety are also replicated in the aircraft’s management. With an effective engineering team headed by seasoned engineers, well equipped and IT-compliant storehouse, the firm has successfully carved a niche for itself in the helicopter industry by not only meeting its clientele’s expectations but also raising the bar in the subsector.

Its seamless operations, though sometimes challenged by natural events such as weather distortions and the peculiar Nigerian situations such as fuel scarcity, the firm have been resilient in containing each of these challenges with a functional mechanism.

For instance, just opposite its Port Harcourt base, is a tank farm with 350,000 litres capacity for its JET A-1 fuel.

This, the firm says, has been capital intensive in sustaining, a scenario that has perhaps informed its decision to commence its own gas-to-power project to enable it power its terminal without relying on generating sets.

On weather challenges, Bains explained that though, the company has had course to delay flights for averagely an hour to allow for better climatic conditions, it rarely cancels its daily operation in entirety.

“We only have very few days, maybe two days in the entire calendar year with total cancellation in the course of the year,” he said, adding that this further strengthens the carrier’s commitment to offer its clients cutting edge services.

In line with its expansion drive, efforts are in top gear to rehabilitate the carrier’s damaged hanger which Eberechukwu Dike, client liaison officer, West Africa base unit, says would further enhance the carrier’s capacity once delivered.

Odinaka Mbonu