Oil and natural gas company Saudi Aramco has initiated a strategy to replace its fleet of helicopters with newer models to improve the company’s safety standards in remote areas and meet the demands of more complex and sophisticated operations.

As part of Saudi Aramco’s helicopter fleet replacement strategy, 16 second-generation AgustaWestland (AW) 139 helicopters, described as “an industry leader”, will replace older models, while five Airbus H145 helicopters will replace AW109 models.

The AW139 helicopters feature enhanced endurance, range and hover performance and are equipped with night vision technology and passenger cabins with a capacity of 15 persons.

Saudi Aramco’s aviation department says the helicopters will be able to provide a “fully functional search and rescue programme”, complementing the company’s offshore capabilities and strategic goals.

The Airbus H145 models have more compact airframes, larger cabins and more powerful engines than their predecessors, enabling greater flexibility in Saudi Aramco’s operations and enhancing its ability to take on new missions.

Saudi Aramco helicopters are assembled in Saudi Arabia, with AW139 parts imported from Italy and the US. The use of local workforces is part of Saudi Aramco’s efforts to ensure its mechanics and engineers remain leaders in Saudi Arabia for servicing the company’s operational needs.

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Saudi Aramco aviation manager Fahd Cynndy said: “Saudi Aramco Aviation has achieved massive strides in becoming the most optimal provider of air transport solutions for the company. As our ambitions have grown in tandem with our capacity to deliver on every challenge that we have faced, we have integrated response agility with the industry’s best-in-class efficiency”.

“With that, we now stand tall in our community as we offer the industry an agile and innovative flight service that has become a model for the region to emulate.”