Salus Aviation: On a U.S. growth trajectory

Avatar for Graham ChandlerGraham Chandler | June 13, 2022

Estimated reading time 8 minutes, 37 seconds.

It all started in 1992 when two tuna boat pilots began selling helicopter parts. In 1996, Oceania Aviation New Zealand was minted, establishing the business as a key player in maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO).

Expansion continued through several strategic acquisitions, adding new engineering facilities in several cities across New Zealand. Multiple service center and distributorships were added to a growing suite of original equipment manufacturer (OEM) partnerships.

The business also continued to add further specialized services, including Rolls-Royce turbine overhaul, helicopter dynamic component overhaul, role equipment manufacturing, blade and composite repairs, and piston engine services.

In 2017, the business became a subsidiary of the Salus Aviation group, which focused on global aircraft sales, leasing, and a comprehensive suite of MRO services. And in 2019, Salus acquired Heli-Parts Nevada (HPN), an aftermarket parts distributor and repair station based in Nevada — the group’s first expansion into the North American region.

In 2020, Salus Aviation and Air Methods Corporation (AMC) formed a strategic fleet management partnership, with the group’s businesses working closely with the global emergency medical services operator to optimize its aircraft divestments and acquisitions.

Salus was in a strong position for global growth going into 2020, and had plans to expand the group’s foothold into Australia and increase its presence across the U.S. and beyond.

“All was going to plan until the pandemic arrived in early 2020,” said CEO Greg Edmonds.

The previous incumbent was based in Australia, and with global lockdowns restricting travel, he departed the business in July 2020. Edmonds, who already had a wealth of aviation experience, “was delighted to join Salus and pick up the reins.”

Despite being a challenging time in aviation — with ongoing border restrictions, supply chain challenges, and reduced flying activity — Edmonds has established some lofty growth goals for the group, with a particular focus on the opportunity to expand its North American presence.

“We are currently updating our U.S. businesses,” Edmonds explained. “HPN was originally a helicopter parts distributor, with a complementary repair station — Heli-Services Nevada (HSN) — later added to the facility. Our global growth plans have required aligning the branding of our subsidiaries throughout the world. HSN will transition to Oceania Aviation U.S. shortly and continue to focus on helicopter services. HPN has been rebranded Heli-Parts Network and will continue to trade in aftermarket parts, but we will expand its international footprint. So, we will have two primary brands operating globally — Oceania Aviation providing heavy MRO services, OEM parts sales, and aircraft sales, and Heli-Parts Network providing aftermarket parts and components.”

Expanding its fleet management business is also a key growth area.

“We have significant helicopter repair capabilities and aircraft sales teams both in New Zealand and America,” Edmonds said. “We typically buy aircraft and upgrade them, stripping them down and reconfiguring where required to optimize them before on-selling. Our partnership with AMC is fundamental in providing us with regular, quality aircraft stock, as well as important support for its fleet. It has been a very successful relationship to date, and our long-term strategy includes securing further fleet management contracts around the world, particularly in the U.S. market.”

Role equipment design and manufacturing has been a unique strength of Oceania Aviation since 1996 and is a significant opportunity for U.S. growth.
“Especially popular is our helicopter spray equipment, featuring carbon fiber tanks and booms,” Edmonds said. “We’ve had significant U.S. interest for our AS350 spray system, and we’re currently gaining U.S. Federal Aviation Administration approval for this, alongside several other role equipment products.”

Its cargo pod is already certified and popular among U.S. operators. Bolstering this is the group’s recently acquired composites manufacturing capabilities, which will allow it to bring further manufacturing in-house, as well as offer additional composite products to market.

“Our composite products and capabilities form a significant part of our future U.S. growth,” Edmonds said.

What else is on the horizon?

“We’ve just completed our five-year strategic business plan,” Edmonds said. “We believe much of our U.S. growth will come from adding high-demand repair and manufacturing capabilities that we already have in New Zealand to America via Oceania Aviation U.S. We will look to broaden our footprint of repair stations across the U.S. to be able to partner with more operators across the country.”

Edmonds also expects to establish further repair stations in the Asia-Pacific region.

In terms of ongoing innovation and technology advancements, Salus is keeping its finger on the pulse, ready to adapt and grow as opportunities arise.

“We’ve been watching the commercial drone market for some time, along with VTOL and eVTOL advancements. I see some convergence coming between the light fixed-wing and light helicopter market, which, alongside drones, could create opportunities for further MRO capabilities for Oceania Aviation.”

He added that there’s a strong move toward composite structures in aviation, which the business is already capitalizing on with its in-house capabilities.

“We essentially provide a turnkey suite of services to aircraft owners and purchasers,” Edmonds said. “Our vision is to continue to provide ‘excellence at altitude’ as the market evolves, which requires us to be progressive and expand alongside these changes.

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