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International Advanced Helicopter Training School Announced

MEDIA RELEASE

Thursday 15th November 2012

International Advanced Helicopter Training School Announced for Nelson

HNZ Group Inc has confirmed it will establish an internationally-recognised advanced helicopter training school in Nelson.

The announcement was made at HNZ Group Inc’s Nelson headquarters this morning by the company’s international Board, in the presence of the New Zealand Prime Minister, Nelson MP Nick Smith, and Canadian High Commissioner Caroline Chretien.


HNZ Group Inc Executive Vice President International, Keith Mullett, says the Nelson-based school will see an initial investment of NZD $1 million, a figure he says is expected to increase in coming years.

“Nelson is a great location for advanced helicopter training, as the school will be within minutes of the diverse and often difficult terrain,” Mullett says. “The local ranges are ideal for pilots to learn about the mechanics of mountain winds, and to practise advanced flying techniques. We are expecting a lot of interest from overseas pilots.”

HNZ Group CEO, Don Wall, added that “HNZ Group is committed to growing its New Zealand operations, and as part of that commitment we will establish an HNZ Topflight School in Nelson at the beginning of next year. There is one other HNZ Topflight School in the world, which is in Canada. The new Nelson-based school will work in partnership with our sister school in Canada and be the only one of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.”

This week marks the first visit to New Zealand by the company’s international Board from Canada.

The Prime Minister Rt Hon John Key and Nelson MP Nick Smith joined the Board in Nelson today, to hear more about the TopFlight School, and about the company’s ambitious growth plans.

In August 2012, HNZ Group Inc announced it beat other overseas-based helicopter companies to win a contract worth US$40 million to provide offshore helicopter services to Shell in the Philippines. The company’s growth strategy will see a minimum of $35 million worth of investment come into New Zealand over the next 18 months alone, which is in line with a forecast for the New Zealand aviation industry to reach as much as US$16 billion by 2016 – a growth rate of 9% annually.

About HNZ TopFlight Training Courses

Using turbine helicopters and purpose built facilities, HNZ Topflight courses are tailored towards experienced pilots who require higher level, and role-specific, training. HNZ Topflight students will benefit from instructors who regularly fly operational assignments in the world’s most challenging environments. In addition to the following courses, custom courses are being developed to meet specific requirements:

Mountain Flight Training

Day Recurrent Training

Night Recurrent Training

Advanced Operational Flight Training - including advanced confined areas

Slinging

Water Bucketing

Vertical Reference

Private and Type Endorsement Courses

Night ratings

About HNZ Group Inc

Nelson is the headquarters for HNZ Group Inc’s global operation utilising 140 helicopters. With bases throughout New Zealand, Australia, and South-East Asia, and employing 153 personnel (currently 70 in New Zealand), HNZ Group Inc has an international reputation for quality and safety and customer service.

HNZ Group Inc's operational capability and experience is extensive, covering most facets of helicopter services. Some of its largest clients include Shell Todd Oil Services, OMV, Australian Worldwide Exploration, Rio Tinto, Origin Energy the Western Australian Fire and Emergency Safety Authority and various national Antarctic programmes.

When the Canadian Helicopters Group took over Helicopters New Zealand in 2011, the new Board committed to keeping the head office in Nelson, and continuing the history of contribution to the New Zealand economy. In September 2012, the global company took on the new name, HNZ Group Inc. History of HNZ in New Zealand The New Zealand story of Helicopters New Zealand (HNZ) begins in Timaru in 1955, with one helicopter, two men, and a passion for the possibilities presented by the “whirlybird.”

Doug Shears, a Timaru boy born-and-bred, had several failed attempts to start a helicopter company up his sleeve when he met Allan Hubbard. At the time, Hubbard rode a bicycle. Shears walked everywhere. Most of New Zealand shook its head at the idea of the two trying to succeed in the aviation business.

In 1955, the two finally got a license to operate their first helicopter, and launched Helicopters New Zealand. The company had a capital of 500 one-pound shares and a single Bell 47, to be used for aerial top dressing, and minimal passenger and freight services.

By 1957, the Bell had 200-300 hours of work booked and needed backup, so Helicopters New Zealand imported another. A number of “firsts” for the country followed – the first use of helicopters for aerial spraying, line-stringing for electricity authorities, dropping pest bait, and spraying copper on state forests to control needle blight. The main base was up and running in Nelson by 1962, with operations in Timaru and Wanganui.

The next decade saw expansion into mineral exploration, forestry work, and tourism. In 1965, Helicopters New Zealand took the first vice-regal helicopter flight in New Zealand, hosting Governor- General Baron Bernard Freyberg and wife Lady Fergusson on a tour of the top of the South island.

Search and rescue operations began, with the biggest rescue exercise taking place after the 1962 Inangahua earthquake. The 7.1 quake cut off all road access and communications – Helicopters New Zealand were deployed to investigate, and airlifted out the injured. By the mid-1970s, they averaged 40 rescues a year. The company commenced offshore oil and gas operations in 1968 to support the original developments in the Taranaki Basin, and has operated there continuously since.

The 1972-73 year saw a fleet of 12 helicopters fly a total of 6,000 hours, for customers including 32 central government departments, 33 mining and exploration companies, 2227 farmers, and 47 local government agencies.

Work continued to expand, from off-shore ship-support operations, to tourism in the deep South, and even film. The company were hired to document the 1990 Commonwealth Games in Auckland. Over half a century on, Nelson remains the headquarters with bases throughout New Zealand, Australia, and South-East Asia, HNZ Group Inc has an international reputation for quality, safety, customer service – and a passion for helicopters.

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