SPECIALIST helicopter operator the Aviator Group is introducing a new Bell 429 helicopter to support Auriga Group’s marine pilotage operations conducted in north Queensland’s Hydrographers Passage.

Aviator Group – soon to become a wholly owned subsidiary of Auriga Group – has introduced the twin-engine Bell 429 to supplement its existing fleet of two AgustaWestland A109 helicopters in transferring marine pilots between their base at Mackay Airport and Blossom Banks, 110 nautical miles offshore – the world’s longest marine pilotage aviation transfer.

Aviator Group chief operating officer Keith Thompson said the Bell 429 is a robust and trusted aircraft used for a wide range of all-weather missions.

“It offers the payload range capability and performance necessary to provide safe, efficient, and reliable transfers for these demanding services,” Mr Thompson said.

“Aviator is proud to provide air transportation services to the marine pilots who keep this vital shipping lane flowing and our waterways free from environmental harm. We are committed to ensuring the safety of the marine pilots we carry, and the flight crew who operate the aircraft in a such a dynamic operational environment. The B429 will strengthen our ability to deliver on this important objective”.

Auriga Group managing director Trent Lonsdale said the Bell 429 is the 11th helicopter deployed nationally by Aviator Group to perform pilot transfers.

“Our highest priority is to perform safe operations every day, and the introduction of this aircraft will ensure we continue to meet or exceed the rigorous aviation safety standards set by our shipping customers for offshore flight operations,” he said.

“Safety is at the core of our organisation. It is fundamental to our business, our operations, and our people. Every day, we aim to exceed the strictest safety standards across our aviation and maritime operations, and we are proud of record of achievement and commitment.”