Published on February 25th, 2015 | by Jim Lee


Milestone Close Seven Leases to Bristow Helicopters

On 11th November Milestone announced that it had closed seven of 12 helicopter leases to Bristow Helicopters Limited, an affiliate of the Bristow Group. The helicopters will be used for civilian search and rescue (SAR) services when Bristow Helicopters takes over delivery of UK SAR services on behalf of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) in 2015. Milestone will provide Bristow 11 Sikorsky S-92 helicopters and one AgustaWestland AW189, which have a combined value of more than $420 million (€335 million). Four of the S-92s are operating currently from the Stornoway and Sumburgh bases in Northern Scotland. Three S-92 aircraft are in other UK locations for training purposes. Four additional S-92 aircraft are in production. The AW189 helicopter that Milestone will provide is one of 11 AW189s that Bristow will operate under the UK SAR contract. Milestone Aviation Group was founded in August 2010 and is headquartered in Dublin. On 13th October GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS), the aircraft leasing unit of GE announced its had signed an agreement to the helicopter lessor, for $1.775 billion (€1.416 billion). Since the company’s founding by aviation and leasing industry veteran Richard T Santulli and other members of the former NetJets executive management team, it has quickly grown into a leading helicopter leasing company. Today, Milestone’s fleet includes 168 helicopters worth $2.8 billion (€2.23 billion) currently leased to 31 operators in 25 countries as well as a strong forward order and option book of $3 billion (€2.39 billion) with a variety of helicopter manufacturers. Mr. Santulli will serve as chairman of the helicopter leasing business and will become an officer of GE. Milestone president Daniel Rosenthal will serve as president of the business, which will continue to operate as ‘Milestone Aviation Group’. Fellow Milestone co-founding executives John Burns, Robert Thor Dranitzke and Matthew Harris will continue in their current roles, as will the rest of the Milestone team. JZ Capital Partners Limited (‘JZCP’), a London and Channel Islands listed private equity also announced an agreement to sell its equity interest in Milestone to GECAS. JZCP first invested in Milestone Aviation in September 2010, investing a total of $15.1 million (€12.04 million) to date. JZCP is expected to receive a total of $40 million (€31.91 million) from the sale.

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About the Author

Jim has had a life-long interest in military matters and aviation. Initially, he fused both of these interests together with a passion for military aviation, initially as a photographer. He has travelled extensively over the years and has been the guest of many European air forces, plus the air forces of the United States, Russia and others throughout the world. His first introduction to journalism coincided with an interest in the civil aviation industry was when he initially wrote for and later edited, ‘Aviation Ireland’, the club magazine of the Aviation Society of Ireland. Jim was a contributor to Flying in Ireland since its inception over 10 years ago and is now a key contributor to this site. He has also contributed items for a number of other aviation magazines and has produced a number of detailed contributions to Government policy documents, most recently the Irish Government’s White Paper on Defence. He is also deeply involved in the local community and voluntary sector and has worked both in local government and central government.

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