14-Jun-2021 Source: HeliHub.com
Babcock have lost their remaining UK wind farm contract – supporting the Walney projects off the Cumbrian coast. Operating for Danish company Ørsted, previously known as Dong Energy, the British operator had purchased a new 135T3 and upgraded an older 135T2 for the work.
The five year contract started in April 2018 and was thus due to conclude in March 2023. A Babcock spokesperson confirmed to HeliHub.com this morning that the contract ended on 4th May 2021, and early termination is most unlikely to have been triggered by the helicopter operator in our view.
One aircraft was positioned back to Babcock’s base in Gloucestershire in November 2020, and operated for a few additional days in March 2021. The second was finally flown back to the same base on 4th May.
Babcock MCS Onshore operated two Airbus H135s from a dedicated heliport at Sandscale on the northern outskirts of the town of Barrow-in-Furness. Both previously carried the huge “Ørsted” name on each side, but both have been seen recently in plain red without any titles.
The Sandscale Heliport contstruction followed a planning application from Dong Energy, and is thus believed to be in their ownership.
Babcock previously flew another H135 from a dedicated heliport in the port of Lowestoft, supporting the Greater Gabbard Offshore Wind Farm – but their involvement there had concluded by July 2018 when the aircraft was sold to France.
Babcock also pointed out to us that the equipment fitted for wind farm work has enabled them to carry out a trial flight with the Port of Milford Haven. In a LinkedIn post they reported Harbourmaster Mike Ryan saying: “An opportunity presented itself to explore this capability and we were very pleased with how the transfer went. Having a potential additional means of transferring pilots safely, when the pilot boat is not a viable option, was a positive achievement for the Port.” There’s a video of this operation here.
Update 15 June 2021
Ørsted later provided the following statement to HeliHub.com
“We continually assess our operations performance to ensure we deliver the highest standards across our portfolio. Thanks to the excellent reliability we have seen from the Walney Extension turbines and high-quality service provided by our technicians, we have not required the use of a helicopter as much as originally envisaged. This has in turn brought down the requirement for troubleshooting and emergency maintenance, where helicopter transfer of parts and personnel can assist in delivering significant value. Therefore, we have coordinated with Babcock to pause helicopter logistics support. As with all measures on our performance journey, we will continue to review our processes and should circumstances change we may reinstate helicopter service in the future.”