SA, Russia open helicopter service hub

27 March 2013

South African defence equipment manufacturer Denel Aviation and Russian Helicopters have opened a maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) centre for Russian-built helicopters in Johannesburg.

The centre was opened on Tuesday to coincide with South Africa’s hosting of the fifth BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) summit in Durban.

Russian Helicopters is part of state defence holding company Oboronprom and is a global designer and manufacturer of helicopters; the opening of the service centre will strengthen Russian Helicopters’ position in the African market.

“This is an important step in the development of our global after-sales support network for Russian rotary-wing aircraft,” the deputy chief executive of high technology state corporation Rostec, Dmitry Shugaev, said in a statement.

“Russian helicopters are very popular in Africa and our other core markets, so it is very important for us to be able to offer repair and maintenance services on the spot.

“This will help our partners in the sub-Sahara region to keep their businesses running smoothly by offering certified after-sales care for civilian helicopters when it is needed most,” Shugaev said.

There are currently about 600 Russian-built helicopters across the continent, and maintaining the fleet requires advanced service support.

“The launch of the MRO centre by Denel Aviation is a serious step in this process,” said Russian Helicopters CEO Dmitry Petrov.

“We plan to build out a major regional centre that in future will be able to offer after-sales care and maintenance for all Russian-built helicopters in the sub-Sahara region.”

The opening of the centre follows the signing of an agreement between the two organisations at the Africa Aerospace and Defence show in September 2012.

“The facility is here for all Russian helicopters systems operators in the continent and will enable the operators to derive the benefits of Denel’s extensive after-sales support presence across our continent,” South African President Jacob Zuma said on Tuesday.

SAinfo reporter