Not everyone is aware of Africa’s real dimensions. On a map it appears to be the same size as Greenland, but in reality it is 14 times bigger. Or, to make it even easier to envision: Africa is as big as the USA, China, India, Japan and Europe – combined. The sheer size of the continent is one of the reasons why it requires a clever approach for a company like Airbus Helicopters to provide support and services – such as maintenance or delivery of spare parts – to all of its customers in Africa.
High level of service guaranteed
“In order to cope with this challenge, we are entering into partnerships with local players,” explains Gerard FRANCHINI, Airbus Helicopters Sales Director for Africa. “They can provide certain services faster than we could from our sites in Europe.” The latest partnership: NHV in Ghana received a service center certificate which enables the company to offer a complete range of technical services and operational support to other Airbus Helicopters operators in the region. The Belgian operator specializes in aviation services and has a branch in Ghana, where it operates AS365 N3 Dauphin helicopters to transport crew and freight to oil platforms. “Due to their knowledge of our helicopters in the oil and gas industry, NHV is the perfect choice to give the best services to other African customers in the region,” says Franchini.
Koen Neven, CEO at NHV Ghana, explains why the certificate has a high value for his company: “It’s reassuring for our customers that we can cope with the high standard levels from Airbus Helicopters.” In order to make sure that customers get the exact same level of service as they would from Airbus Helicopters, the partner companies have to pass two extensive audits to obtain certification, as well as one every year to retain it. Following the same principle, there are also maintenance centers in the Ivory Coast (IAS) operating Alouettes, AS350 ecureuil, AS365 Dauphin helicopters and Tunisia (Tunisavia) operating AS365 N2 and N3 Dauphin helicopters, which also provide services for Airbus Helicopters customers in neighboring countries.
A unique service
Further south, the vast continent is covered by Airbus Helicopters Southern Africa (AHZA), which supports over 250 helicopters in service with more than 60 operators. “The territory we cover comprises 20 countries,” explains AHZA CEO, Arnaud Montalvo. He explains that several measures have been taken in order to improve turnaround time and availability of parts and components in the huge region, in which some customers are located in remote areas. These actions comprise, for example, the implementation of an electronic log book, which makes the exchange of real time fleet status information quicker and more accurate, thereby improving forecasts for spare parts and maintenance. A forecast system has also been implemented, to anticipate the need for parts up to 18 months in advance. In terms of training, AHZA partners with local organizations to train air crew, engineers and technicians. Furthermore, the company also operates Africa’s only full-motion Super Puma flight simulator, located near Johannesburg. AHZA is also deploying an H125 FNPTII flight simulator at its Grand Central facility, with a clear objective of enhancing safety and mission training in the region while maintaining affordable training costs.
No matter where its clients are located, Airbus Helicopters offers one service that no other manufacturer in the business offers: “We have a team of technical representatives ready to fly to any customer in Africa in order to bring assistance when a problem requires immediate action,” explains Franchini. The only thing the customer has to do is call and the technicians come to the customer’s facility. “So, even though Airbus Helicopters can’t be present in all 54 African countries, we’re covering the continent in the best way possible.”