The Story of CHC Helicopter
CHC Helicopter has a storied history reaching back to the beginning of the commercial helicopter industry.
Through the decades, CHC has steadily evolved through a combination of organic growth and strategic acquisition of some of the most innovative, pioneering companies in the global helicopter industry. Now, more than half a century after its founding companies were established, CHC Helicopter is the largest helicopter services company in the world.
CHC Helicopter has two distinct operating divisions; CHC Helicopter Services and Heli-One, the world’s largest helicopter maintenance, repair and overhaul business. The company was purchased by First Reserve Corporation in 2008 and is currently privately held. CHC Helicopter, in addition to its offshore oil transport operations and maintenance unit, is also the world leader in helicopter search and rescue, holding major contracts on two continents.
This growth was probably never envisioned by the pioneers who launched CHC’s precursor companies, the same year that the first offshore oil well was drilled out of sight of land, 1947. Around that time, Okanagan Helicopters started as a crop-spraying company, introducing the practice to British Columbia. Two years later the company, run by the legendary Carl Agar, developed the first skid gear for helicopters. In 1987, Okanagan Helicopters would become CHC Global Operations.
Also in 1947, British European Airways set up an experimental helicopter service which would become CHC's first UK subsidiary, British International Helicopters (BIH). CHC’s Norwegian entity also dates to 1947, when Hancke Morten began to indulge his passion for flying. By 1956, Morten had established the Oslo-based helicopter company that would become Helikopter Service Group. And as far back as 1945, a young man named Bob Schreiner was developing a business to trade aircraft and aircraft components in the Netherlands.
The CHC name – which is actually an acronym for Canadian Holding Company - was created in 1987 by St. John's businessman, the late Craig Dobbin (1935-2006). Mr Dobbin headed a group that purchased Okanagan Helicopters and Toronto Helicopters, and merged them with his own company, Sealand Helicopters. Mr Dobbin, former Executive Chairman of CHC Helicopter, had founded Sealand Helicopters with a single helicopter in 1977, realizing the potential of rotorcraft for the offshore and other industries.
Over the last few decades, CHC has welcomed numerous other companies to the CHC group. The last major acquisition was in 2004 when CHC purchased Schreiner Aviation Group, the leading offshore helicopter services company in the Dutch sector of the North Sea, and a key player in the Nigerian offshore industry.
Today, CHC employs more than 4,300 people in some 30 countries around the world and boasts an unparalleled safety culture that makes it the recognized world leader in offshore helicopter operations.