Helicopters are used to provide access for technicians and contractors to the wind turbines and offshore substation.

What it costs

About £200,000 per annum for a 450 MW floating offshore wind farm. This is dependent on the level of expected use (such as flying hours and helicopter type) defined by the operational strategy.

Who supplies them

Manufacturers: Airbus, Leonardo, and Sikorsky.

Operators: Babcock, Bond Aviation Group, Heli Service International and Northern Helicopter.

Key facts

Helicopters allow access in otherwise inaccessible sea state conditions. Their high speeds and low carrying capacities fit well with the dispersed nature of offshore wind projects and the high frequency of low effort interventions that make up a large proportion of offshore visits.

The high costs mean that helicopters are not used as primary means of technician transport. They can be cost-effective for projects at the limit of the effective range of CTVs for which the fixed cost of SOVs is unattractive.

Arrangements to use local airports need to be developed or a dedicated helicopter base set up at the operations port. This usually requires additional planning consent. It is important to locate the helicopter close to the operations base to reduce inefficiencies in journey time.

Helicopters rarely land on the offshore installations, with technicians being winched down to the turbine. Helicopters are limited by weight restrictions and typically carry two to six technicians depending on the type of helicopter. The type of spare parts and tools that can be carried is limited by weight and size.

Helicopters are normally contracted on a long-term basis, with either exclusive or shared access to the aircraft.

What’s in it

Guide to a Floating Offshore Wind Farm