Airbus Helicopters views the support for wind farms as a business segment that is undergoing global growth and expects demand for up to a thousand helicopters over the coming two decades, corresponding to revenues of approximately EUR 9 billion.
With turbine output rising, leading to a higher rate of electricity production, wind farm operators rely on an efficient, rapid-response logistics system to keep losses to a minimum should a malfunction occur. At the same time, wind farms are being built further and further from the shore. A helicopter can cover 40 nautical miles (approximately 74km) in 20 minutes, meaning it can reach the site and return to shore faster than a transport vessel, the company said.
“Helicopters are an integral part of any logistics concept for offshore wind farms,” said Dennis Bernitz, Head of Western Europe Sales.
“Our helicopters can complete missions for wind farms in a particularly quick, economical, safe and environmentally friendly manner. Helicopters can be used to deploy technicians or medical personnel in emergencies, even in rough seas, and can also transport operating personnel between the shore and the wind farm.”
Helicopter transport means that personnel avoid problems with seasickness caused by travelling by sea in rough weather conditions. The probability of mistakes being made by seasick technicians is considerably higher than in the case of healthy technicians; in severe cases, the error rate climbs dramatically, the company said.
Airbus Helicopters has developed a logistics calculator for wind farm operators, which takes into account all relevant factors – weather, location and the number of turbines in the wind farm – to determine the most economical and environmentally friendly logistics solution which includes options on the mix of transport and special-purpose vessels.
Companies do not usually purchase the means of transport themselves, but lease the services from operators. Airbus Helicopters offers the H135, H145 and H175 rotorcraft for crew transport, maintenance and rescue missions. In future, the H160 is also expected to be available to this market. With their two engines and four-axis autopilot, these Airbus helicopters have the ability to hover in the air and winch down personnel or goods to exactly where they are needed.