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When a pilot or a company makes a commitment to purchase an aircraft, they must put a significant amount of trust in the seller. And it’s in meeting this need for integrity and authenticity that Oceania Aviation, an aircraft and parts sales, and maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) provider in Auckland, New Zealand, has built a hugely successful business.
Despite being thousands of miles away from the giant helicopter fleets of North America and Europe, Oceania Aviation has forged a reputation as a reliable sales agent for customers around the globe, thanks to its prioritization of integrity in its operations.
“In spite of the fact that we are a small nation geographically located at the bottom of the world, we work really hard to ensure that there is a lot of client/customer satisfaction,” said Stephen Boyce, aircraft sales manager at Oceania Aviation. “One hundred percent of what sales are all about at the end of the day is integrity; we’re very cognizant of that.”
The company was established in 1992 by two pilots, Josh Camp and Jonathan Bowen. Over the following years, they worked diligently to build Oceania Aviation into the company it is today, with more than 180 employees spread across 10 locations throughout New Zealand. Oceania Aviation was acquired by Salus Aviation Limited in November 2017, helping it become the largest general aviation MRO company Down Under.
The company’s origins were in the aircraft parts business. It later branched off into fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft sales, and then started MRO work throughout New Zealand.
“I think, out of everything, the big difference between Oceania Aviation and any company in North America is that because of our location in the world, physically, we have to do a little bit of everything,” explained Boyce. “We repair rotor blades; we overhaul gearboxes; we repair turbine engines and piston engines; we fix airplanes — it’s everything.”
A well-oiled machine
While aircraft sales are a key part of Oceania Aviation’s international reputation, its MRO capabilities add huge value to its business. “The MRO gives us the capability and the reputational integrity across the industry,” Boyce said.
Any maintenance or repair that an aircraft may need before it takes flight with a new owner is completed by Oceania Aviation’s MRO team, helping the sales staff to do their job of selling dependable aircraft. And the breadth of the company’s MRO capabilities are all-encompassing, said Boyce. “If it’s on an aircraft, we have someone to fix it.”
The company operates like a well-oiled machine; all moving parts work in unison with one another. The sales team can be just as hands-on as the MRO team when needed, and will help dismantle and pack the aircraft for shipping to clients across the globe.
“Where most sales teams farm out the ‘dirty work,’ we offer the service to ensure the aircraft arrives and leaves in the most efficient time possible,” said Boyce.
For years, Oceania Aviation has focused on converting aircraft from one sector to another to meet market demand. With the oil-and-gas industry going through a prolonged downturn, Boyce said the company has felt pressure from other aircraft re-sellers who are looking to move their aircraft into the utility sector. As a result, Oceania Aviation has developed a specialty in repurposing machines for utility work, ensuring customers have the solutions they require.
One example of this was the conversion of a VIP-configured Airbus AS322L Super Puma into a utility aircraft. Oceania Aviation currently has two of them in New Zealand, with a goal of refurbishing both aircraft for work in the utility market in 2019.
But a project of this magnitude is no easy feat. It can take anywhere from six to 12 months to complete the conversion, and it involves some third-party providers for certain tasks, along with plenty of expenditure with the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). The helicopter paint job alone can take eight to 10 weeks to complete.
Converting a medium or light helicopter, such as the Bell 412 or Airbus AS350, into a utility aircraft is a much quicker process. “Registering an aircraft into the NZCAA [New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority] or FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] system is straightforward, and auditing and preparation of log books takes a little longer — generally from two to four weeks,” explained Boyce. “Depending on depth of the required inspections and client expectations around role equipment, we can typically deliver in less than two months.”
With decades of experience in the industry, the Oceania Aviation team has learned how to manage the complexity of preparing and certifying helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, equipping them for the aircraft sales market.
Part of the expert knowledge at Oceania Aviation comes from experience gained in handling and selling such a wide variety of aircraft.
“The last eight years have seen us sell every model of Robinson, everything Bell from the 206 to the 412HP, a lone Gazelle, a SA315 Lama, BK117s, S-76s, AS365 Dauphins, more MD 500s than I can remember, half a dozen Bo.105s, a flight line of Cessna pistons, a fleet of King Air B200s, and even a Pilatus PC-12 NG,” Boyce said.
Oceania Aviation’s real-world experience allows the sales team to offer meaningful advice to customers who aren’t certain about which type of aircraft is right for their operations. Boyce said he and his team provide honest opinions to clients as to whether the aircraft they want to buy is a good fit for a certain role or not; he believes integrity and honesty are fundamental to providing this guidance.
The aircraft sales team consists of a dedicated group of people committed to helicopter and fixed-wing sales. To cover the major markets, the team members are spread out between New Zealand, Australia and the United States, but they also travel globally to support the needs of clients.
With a hands-on approach, the aircraft sales team likes to stay intimately involved from beginning to end — the sales process doesn’t end once a deal is closed and a check is written. Where possible, the team will fly aircraft to any destination for delivery, will assist with disassembly for shipping purposes, and, if needed, will reassemble aircraft once they have reached the customer.
This dedication has been provided to customers such as Wisk Air Helicopters in Thunder Bay, Ontario; Blackcomb Helicopters based in Whistler, British Columbia (which purchased one aircraft from Oceania Aviation this year); and numerous individual clients who have purchased aircraft from the company over the years.
The Oceania Aviation sales team has significant experience flying many types of fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft, and that knowledge helps them enhance customer satisfaction. And each team member offers the benefits of that knowledge to Oceania Aviation’s customers.
Boyce said, “Integrity is the lifeblood of aircraft sales, and we covet a reputation of decency and fair trading that has evolved since we started trading helicopters in 1992.”