Dunkirk gets new Eurocopter EC135 helicopter


France’s third largest port, Dunkirk has just taken delivery of a new EC135 helicopter being used by the sea pilots to guide ships into the port

EC135 Dunkirk sea pilotsEurocopter has announced the delivery of a
new EC135 helicopter to the sea pilots of Dunkirk’s
Grand Port Maritime.

Eurocopter’s extensive experience in
maritime support services has been recognized by the sea pilots of Dunkirk, who
guide some 5,800 ships day and night every year, 1,450 which are assisted by
helicopter. The selection of the EC135 underlines the confidence of Dunkirk’s Grand Port
Maritime in Eurocopter helicopters since 1990, with the EC135 replacing an
AS355 that first entered service at the facility in 2000.

“The helicopter is a unique tool for our
maritime pilots, as it can take over in situations where our ships can’t handle
the mission and continue to ensure complete safety,” said Didier Payen, the
head of Dunkirk’s
pilot station. “The EC135 is perfectly suited to this type of mission. Its
choice was based on the aircraft’s performance; the feedback we share with
Eurocopter and engine manufacturer Turbomeca; and the experience acquired by
sea pilots at the port
of Bordeaux, who have
been using the EC135 for several years now.”

When a ship arrives in the Dunkirk port area, the pilot station sends
out an on-board pilot to guide the vessel to the port’s entrance. Since 1990,
nearly 35,000 ships have been served by helicopter, with 77 percent of them
employing a hoist for the boarding process. By using a helicopter, the pilots
can be transported more quickly to ships located further away than can be
served by marine craft.

“This delivery of Eurocopter’s first EC135
to the Dunkirk Pilot Station underlines the increasing role played by our
helicopters in shipping safety and service missions,” said Dominique Maudet,
Eurocopter executive vice-president, Global Business and Services. “They extend
pilot capabilities at ports and contribute to smooth docking operations. We are
proud to see our helicopters in use at three different French ports in
operations that require reliable aircraft guaranteeing high-performance and

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