LCI Executive Vice President, Nigel Leishman, explains how aircraft leases enable operators to manage their risk efficiently.

Since its foundation in 2004, LCI’s highly experienced and well-connected management team has worked closely with aircraft and engine manufacturers and with major financial institutions. It has acquired a reputation for effectively managing risk for fixed and rotary wing aircraft operators through the provision of agile and innovative aircraft leasing services.

 The operating leases facilitated by LCI on state-of-the-art aircraft and helicopters provide a wide range of benefits, enabling operators to avoid capital-intensive purchases of new aircraft, and manage their costs more efficiently through this source of asset financing.

 Operating leases are not only a more efficient means of preserving capital, they also enable aircraft operators to effectively manage their risk.

Balance sheet advantage

An operating lease moves a large part of the residual value risk of an aircraft from the operator to the lessor, the latter of whom is better placed to manage this asset as part of a much larger portfolio.  Lessors have large customer bases and are in constant contact with operators around the world with in depth knowledge of who needs what equipment at any given time. This in-depth knowledge enables lessors to efficiently move the aircraft to another operator or region as needed. Additionally, lessors may use their experience to take a more aggressive and higher view on the residual value than an operator might if they financed the aircraft themselves, thereby reducing an operator’s overall costs for the portion of the aircraft’s life used by the operator.

 The recent downturn in the oil and gas market left many operators with surplus aircraft, and any operator with surplus equipment knows what a financial drag it is to maintain and insure equipment which is not earning revenue.  During a downturn, operators will have a very difficult time reducing their fleet by selling excess equipment and the prices they could obtain for the excess equipment generally will not be satisfactory.  Having aircraft on relatively short term operating leases allows operators to simply meet the return conditions and hand the aircraft back to the lessor upon lease termination, thereby mitigating against these risks.

 No ‘up front’ costs

Operating leases also provide other ways to reduce financial risk to operators. The ‘up front’ costs in an operating lease are limited to a security deposit and one month’s aircraft rental with no form of pre-delivery deposit required, a lower outlay than the down payment required in a finance lease, and considerably less than the equity outlay required in the case of an outright purchase.

 Removing currency and interest rate risk

Lessors will often work with banking partners to fix the monthly rental rates which are often in US Dollars or Euros, but in some cases may be offered in the operator’s local currency, thereby removing the risk of adverse exchange rate movements.

 Over and above this, lessors such as LCI can forward fix these rentals up to 18 months or more before the delivery of the aircraft and commencement of the contract to avoid adverse movements in exchange rates.  As helicopters are often purchased in Euros (for Airbus Helicopters and Leonardo), but lenders rely upon their value which is appraised in US Dollars, this frees operators from the need to hedge against exchange rate risk in both Euros and US Dollars.

 The same concept applies for interest rates.  LCI fixes the rate at the time of delivery to provide fixed monthly rentals, thereby reducing the exposure for operators to fluctuations in interest rates over the period of any long-term contracts.

 Value added

As residual values reflect the future demand for a particular aircraft type, these values can vary considerably making a lessor’s aircraft choice critical to its success. One of the reasons LCI invests in new generation helicopters such as the Leonardo AW169 is that we believe that these designs will continue to have a strong market demand long into the future. Whilst there are older, less expensive aircraft available, they are no longer state-of-the-art and the fact that they may well have lower residual values in future means their monthly lease costs may actually be higher than more expensive helicopters. By leasing the latest technology aircraft which have strong residual values, operators can often benefit from leasing newer, more capable and better performing helicopters at a lower cost.

 New generation helicopters

Lessors like LCI can also help manage technical risk as they often have greater experience with new aircraft types than the operators who lease them.  LCI has specialised in new generation helicopters such as AW139, AW189 AW169 and H175, and to date has taken delivery of more than 40 new helicopters, giving it huge experience and expertise in managing the aircraft acceptance process.  LCI works closely with operators and manufacturers to develop the aircraft configurations and specifications, and can also work with third party suppliers to customise the aircraft’s fit out after it is delivered.

 Flexibly, globally available

Having a fleet of significant size enables lessors to not only offer helicopters for lease at points across the globe, but to do so at varying lease terms that match an operator’s contractual needs, and terms that can be extended as necessary to remained aligned with those needs.

 Cost-effective maintenance

Most new technology helicopters are supported by the manufacturer’s cost-effective power-by-the-hour programmes (PBH) which cover airframe, avionics and engine, and provide an hourly fixed cost covering spares and maintenance. LCI has already negotiated these PBH agreements and in the event operators do not already have their own programs, LCI can make them available to operators, ensuring their maintenance requirements and cost risk is efficiently handled.

 Customer-focused solutions

LCI works closely with customers from the early stage of identifying a potential aircraft requirement through to delivery and in-service operation.  This partnership-based approach ensures that LCI can not only provide an aircraft that is tailored to the operator’s needs, but does so in a way that manages their risk effectively.

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Lessor LCI optimistic on future demand – FlightGlobal

Lessor LCI believes the market for medium and heavy helicopters is beginning to recover after several consecutive years of downturn.

“I don’t think we are seeing the impact yet on pricing but we are seeing a huge amount of activity,” says chief executive Mike Platt.

“Look at the number of tenders out there, in oil and gas in particular.”

However, he cautions that although part of an improving picture, activity in the North Sea and Persian Gulf regions is still lagging other area, notably Southeast Asia.

“But if you add it all up, over the next 12-15 months the demand picture is changing dramatically,” he says.

Platt sees interest across the board in the medium and super-medium segments, where it holds orders for a variety of the Leonardo Helicopters and Airbus Helicopters types, including their respective AW189 and H175.

Those two aircraft – which Platt refers to as light-heavies – are increasingly used as alternatives to 10-passenger models such as the Sikorsky S-92, he says.

He says availability on the H175 is “18 to 24 months” with the AW189 “starting to see that sort of activity”.

He also praises the in-development H160, and may consider adding the 6t-class helicopter to LCI’s fleet.

LCI currently has 40 helicopters in operation, with another 12 on firm order.

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 LCI, the aviation division of the Libra Group, has taken delivery of its first Airbus Helicopters H175 aircraft and placed it on lease with CHC.

 The aircraft will be based out of Aberdeen, Scotland, supporting oil and gas production activities in the North Sea.

 Crispin Maunder, Executive Chairman of LCI, says: “This is an important day for LCI as we take delivery of this excellent, new generation helicopter. The H175 is now becoming established as a proven and versatile aircraft which efficiently is serving the growing oil and gas sector around the world.

“We are delighted to be accepting our first H175 from Airbus Helicopters, building on LCI’s long-established working relationship with the Airbus Group covering almost $1.5 billion in new deliveries to date.”

 Michael Platt, Chief Executive Officer of LCI, says: “We believe that the new CHC is well positioned in the market and we are very pleased to be part of their re-fleeting and growth strategy.

 “With our extensive experience in placing helicopters for use in the oil and gas sector, we are confident we can add value to CHC’s operations in the long term.”

 The Airbus Helicopters H175 is a new generation 7.8 tonne, 16 passenger aircraft, in the super-medium category.  Its primary mission is to support off-shore oil and gas activities but it is also an excellent search and rescue (SAR) aircraft. 

The H175 is configured with the reliable and proven Pratt & Whitney PT-6 engines, a Helionix avionics suite with 4-axis autopilot, and fully certified to the latest FAR/JAR 29 certification standards.

 “The addition of another H175 to our fleet in EMEA is another key step towards our goal to offer our customers a productive, safe and reliable fleet that can best meet the needs of our global customers,” said Karl Fessenden, President and Chief Executive Officer of CHC. “LCI is an experienced lessor when it comes to placing aircraft in the oil and gas sector and we are proud to partner with them on this new aircraft.”

 There are currently 18 H175 aircraft supporting oil and gas activities with an accumulated flying time exceeding 16,000 hours.

 Ben Bridge, Executive Vice President Global Sales at Airbus Helicopters, says: “The handover of LCI’s first H175, and the imminent start of operations with CHC, confirms the aptitude of this aircraft for the oil and gas market. From day one, passengers will benefit from the smooth and comfortable ride, whilst LCI and CHC will appreciate the efficiencies of the H175; not least its impressive cruise speed and its 140nm range with 16 passengers.”

 LCI’s helicopter fleet is currently made up of approximately 60 helicopters in service and on order. In addition to the Airbus Helicopters H175, it also includes the manufacturer’s H130 helicopter, and Leonardo Helicopters’ AW139, AW169 and AW189 family.

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LCI Orders Nine Helicopters as it Takes Delivery of a Record Six Units in a Month


LCI, the aviation division of the Libra Group, and Leonardo have today announced an order for an additional nine helicopters.

The order is valued at over US$120 million and covers the entire family of new generation helicopters – the AgustaWestland AW139, AW169 and AW189. Deliveries will commence this year and continue into 2018.

LCI is already a major customer for Leonardo aircraft, and this latest order adds to its previous orders for the same types, which now total 49. The versatility and efficiency of the AW169, AW139 and AW189 aircraft are proving extremely popular with leading operators across the globe.

A record five AW169s and one AW139 are being delivered to LCI this month, and being deployed on Search and Rescue (SAR), Maritime Pilot transfers, Emergency Medical Services, and Training and Utility missions. This clearly demonstrates the diversity and balance of LCI’s lease portfolio and its capacity to grow within all the sectors, including offshore oil and gas.

Crispin Maunder, Executive Chairman of LCI, said: “Today’s order marks just an interim stage in our continued long term fleet development plan. We are seeing a resurgence of demand for modern, cost-effective helicopters across a range of different sectors, and this additional follow-on order underscores our confidence in the market and ensures that LCI has the right size and mix of helicopter fleet to fulfil our customers’ near term requirements.

“The record number of helicopters we have taken delivery of and placed on lease this month alone is a clear demonstration of the continuing strength and diversity of demand in the helicopter market and in particular that for Leonardo helicopters.”

Michael Platt, Chief Executive Officer of LCI, says: “We are delighted to be expanding our longstanding partnership with Leonardo, whose versatile and innovative aircraft are proving highly popular with the leading helicopter operators we work with across the globe. 

“LCI’s fast-growing fleet is balanced across a diverse range of sectors which now includes HEMS, wind energy, oil and gas, marine pilot transfer, search and rescue, mining and training.”

LCI’s helicopter fleet is currently made up of approximately 60 helicopters in service and on order, including the market-leading Leonardo AW139, AW169 and AW189 helicopters and next-generation Airbus Helicopters’ H175 and H130.

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LCI, the aviation division of the Libra Group, has today announced the delivery of the first Leonardo AW139 helicopter to Héli-Union SA.

The brand-new AW139 will be leased from LCI to support Héli-Union’s growing activities in Asia.

France-based Héli-Union is a world-renowned helicopter operator, specialising in the support of oil & gas activities across five continents. The company has over 50 years of experience in more than 60 countries and operates a diversified fleet of medium and large twin-engined helicopters.

Crispin Maunder, Executive Chairman of LCI, says: “We are pleased to be partnering with Héli-Union, a very dynamic operator, as they increase their fleet. We see considerable demand for this versatile and innovative helicopter which offers a broad range of applications, and allows LCI to further expand its relationships with leading operators around the world”.

LCI is a major customer for the AW139 and has to date taken delivery of 23 of this type, which are being deployed on a variety of missions including emergency medical services (EMS), search and rescue (SAR), support for offshore oil, gas and wind energy installations.

Patrick Molis, President and CEO of Héli-Union, says: “It is fitting that Héli-Union is working on fleet strategy, developing leasing solution for the first time, to take benefit of the growth potential of the South-East Asian region. We are delighted to be working with LCI Helicopters who have been highly responsive, and extremely supportive to our requirements. We look forward to further developing our relationship over the coming years.”

The Leonardo AW139 is a versatile, modern twin-turbine, medium category helicopter, which can accommodate up to fifteen passengers. Since its entry on the market 14 years ago, the AW139 has been delivered to an ever growing number of operators worldwide.

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LCI, the aviation division of the Libra Group, today announces the lease of three Leonardo AW169 helicopters to Airlift, the Norwegian subsidiary of NHV Group.

The three AW169s will be leased from LCI to support Airlift’s sea pilots transfer operations in Norway, with first deliveries are expected by the end of June this year.

Airlift AS, based in Forde (Bygstad), became part of NHV Group in 2014 and is one of Norway’s leading providers of helicopter services, specialised in offshore and onshore activities, heavylift operations and search and rescue missions.

LCI is the launch customer for the AW169 and has taken delivery of five of this type to date. These aircraft are now being deployed on a variety of missions including emergency medical services (EMS), offshore support, and utility and training. The lessor has orders and commitments for a further five AW169s which are due to be delivered between now and 2018.

Crispin Maunder, Executive Chairman of LCI, says: “We are delighted to be partnering with Airlift as they introduce the AW169 into service in Norway in this highly demanding role.”

“This is the first time that LCI helicopters have been used for sea pilot operations, demonstrating the broad range of applications for this versatile and innovative aircraft, for which we are already seeing high levels of interest from operators across the globe.”

The Leonardo AW169 is a versatile, new generation twin-turbine, light intermediate category helicopter, which can accommodate up to ten passengers. The AW169 is the first all new aircraft in its weight category to enter the market in more than 30 years, and is certified in accordance with EASA CS-29 / FAR Part 29 standards for performance and safety.

Stian Harklau, Managing Director of Airlift says: “It is fitting that Airlift is introducing the latest Leonardo helicopter type into operation out of our Bergen and Hammerfest bases.  The sea pilots transfer contract is very important for Airlift and we look forward to giving our client the best possible service, using the modern AW169 aircraft.  We are delighted to be working with LCI Helicopters who have been extremely supportive to our requirements and we look forward to further developing our relationship over the coming years.”

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