CHC Norway

Safety first

Being one of the world’s largest helicopter services companies entails a total dedication to safety and security, which is why CHC Norway’s safety and quality management system is integral to its efficient daily running.

It’s fair to say that CHC’s safety infrastructure is second to none and a culture of continuous improvement permeates every branch of the wide reaching organisation – this starts right at the top with the CEO’s One Commitment: ‘No harm to people, property or environment’.

CHC Norway operates as part of CHC European Operations, which is headquartered in Scotland and is one of CHC Helicopter Corporation’s three divisions; the others being CHC Global Operations and Heli-One. When CHC integrated its activities around the world under one banner in 2000, it became the first helicopter services company to do so.

Nearly 70 per cent per cent of CHC’s total revenue involves providing helicopter support to the oil and gas industry – primarily services to offshore platforms operated by the world’s major oil and gas companies. CHC is also a global leader in search and rescue (SAR) helicopter operations, and repair and overhaul (MRO).

CHC Norway’s managing director, Tore Villard, outlines the company’s remit: “Founded in 1957, CHC Norway has developed from a small helicopter operator into the largest service provider of helicopter transport for the Norwegian Continental Shelf. I oversee 450 employees and by far our biggest market sector is offshore. We operate out of five land bases in Norway and four offshore bases, and our clients include, amongst others, Statoil, ConocoPhillips, BP, Total, Exxon Mobil and Talisman Energy.”

Considering what the business has to offer, Tore observes: “We have an excellent track record for delivery of services, a highly competent workforce and we’re part of a powerful group. This certainly has advantages with regards to maintenance systems, client support and purchasing power. We co-operate closely in the CHC Group to streamline underlying systems and processes for continuous improvement, so we can serve the oil and gas industry with world class helicopter support.”

Tore sees a primary value in retaining and respecting a capable workforce: “Key to any success is to work with people in your organisation; essentially, it’s the staff that are going to drive a business forward. Focusing on our human resources becomes the foundation of any strategy we implement.”

In an effort to enhance operational safety and efficiency, CHC is investing in new helicopters, more staff as well as workforce training, and strengthening of leadership. Total investment into Norway will have passed $300 million. Tore discusses the major benefits of the investment: “First of all, it’s going to be a renewal of fleet that that we’ve defined as old technology. This will not only serve current customer requirements today but bring us into the future with a modern fleet to build on for new work. An outlay now is going to put us in a favourable position in the future.”

Continuing, he adds: “The changes were prompted by a new contract we were awarded in late 2007 by Statoil, which was the biggest civilian helicopter contract in the world at that time. We’re currently mobilising for full delivery of that contract and it’s a large part of our uptake of new technology. Included in the total delivery are three highly advanced and versatile search and rescue helicopters. For the most part, the contract will take us up to 2015 and involve $1 billion of revenue.”

The improvements will enable CHC Norway to forge even more alliances with well-known industry players and fulfil its aim of entering into long-term relationships with customers. “On the Norwegian side, examples of our enduring contracts include the work with Statoil, which is split into seven points and requires a seven to ten year commitment,” Tore comments. “Our driving strategy will always be to build long lasting alliances. Since we work with numerous organisations in the oil and gas industry in the Norwegian sector, we have the advantage of frequent follow up meetings. It’s a chance to stay in touch and get feedback.”

Another aspect of CHC that’s changing for the better is its Safety Management System and, since CHC Corporation shares a common approach, CHC Norway is introducing that singular corporate strategy into its business unit. Tore explains: “We rolled out a new reporting system in November, to be embedded into our operations in the coming months. The component parts of the safety management system are key elements that shall drive and motivate people to report anything undesirable. It will increase transparency and capture a huge amount of data to enhance our ability to trend in an even more effective way than if we were isolated as a unit in Norway.

“Additionally, we have a significant programme called Flight Data Monitoring, which is probably the most important safety enhancement system on the operational side since HUMS was introduced some 20 years ago. We want to ensure everyone in our organisation is living and breathing safety management.”

While the investments that have been made inside Norway and CHC overall represent logical evolution, they have not been without challenges – mainly because the commitment was made a long time prior to the financial crisis. Tore explains how CHC has overcome the difficulties relating the global recession: “We’ve had to find solutions, rather than stopping investment. The renewal strategy overall for CHC was key to our longevity, so there has been a lot of work carried out on the financial side to find good solutions.

“In terms of the business unit here in Norway, oil companies have been outspoken about their own cost levels and experienced a huge increase in cost in respect of their supplier portfolios. Of course, we are part of that portfolio so the challenge for us in the market is to adopt an even more cost conscious approach to the industry we’re supporting.”

Perhaps CHC’s pragmatic attitude comes from being a business that has devoted itself to safety, or perhaps it reflects its years of experience in a dynamic industry. One point is certain – Tore is positive about where he would like to see CHC in five years’ time: “We’ll sustain our market share and position, and be the preferred supplier to the oil industry in the Norwegian sector. Similarly, we want to be a vital part of developing CHC as a corporate entity into the top choice for major oil and gas companies world wide. After all, we’re moving the industry that moves the world.”

CHC Norway

Services: Transport and search & rescue operations