Gearing up for growth in the Gulf

With a handful of restaurants, hotels and retail stores and a population of about 7000, Galliano is typical of the sleepy small towns that dot the Louisiana Gulf Coast. But when it comes to helicopter transportation serving the offshore oil and gas industry in the Gulf of Mexico, Galliano can be one busy place.

There are 34 aircraft that operate daily from Bristow’s 160 acre site in the southeastern part of the state, serving approximately 350 passengers who come through the terminal each day. They travel anywhere from 30 miles to more than 200 miles offshore aboard Bristow aircraft.

Figure 1. An artist’s rendering of the permanent terminal currently under construction at the Bristow base in Galliano, La.

On a monthly basis, about 5500 people head offshore through Galliano and an equal number return on approximately 1500 total flights. That puts overall traffic levels at or above 11 000 passengers, not including multiple offshore stops and transfers between platforms and vessels.

The Galliano base is located directly off a four-lane highway and has long been the busiest of Bristow’s six locations that serve the Gulf. The other locations are in Angleton (Brazoria), Texas, and Houma, Intracoastal City, New Iberia and Venice in Louisiana. The major expansion now underway at Galliano will serve to meet clients’ needs as well as prepare for future growth in the region.

Three-phase project

The expanding Galliano base is moving rapidly through its three-step development plan, with parking and concrete work completed in late 2014 and a new temporary terminal that opened in January. The new permanent terminal building, hangar and shops complex are scheduled to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2015.

The temporary terminal itself represents a significant improvement from the previous facility. At 23 000 ft2, it is nearly three times the size of the land-side area of the terminal it replaced. Among the improvements are:

  • An expanded check-in area.
  • Four self-service check-in kiosks.
  • Three attended check-in areas.
  • Larger, brighter flight departure lounge with more seating capacity (200 seats compared with 80 previously).
  • 16 ft. wide covered decking and walkways for enhanced manoeuvring space.
  • A new customer service function to resolve travel issues.
  • Increased parking both on and off site.

In addition to meeting local regulations, the terminal also enables a consistent move toward operations that are compliant with the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers’ (IOGP) guidelines. IOGP makes recommendations across a wide variety of aviation best practices and serves as a global partner with industry regulators to improve safety, environment and social responsibility performance. Many oil companies require those they work with to meet these standards.

Figure 2. Galliano is Bristow’s busiest base serving the Gulf of Mexico, with an average of 350 passengers coming through each day.

While the temporary terminal was designed for the short term, it was engineered and built to serve as a long-lasting structure. In the future, it may be available for use as a private terminal for interested parties once the permanent terminal building is completed.

New and improved security

Bristow is the first provider in the Gulf of Mexico to introduce wholesale security screening availability for all transiting passengers of each client. Other operators in the region offer a range of screening from minimal to random searches to scanning for individual customers who request it.

To establish a new standard, achieve the highest security levels and make screening faster and more convenient for its Galliano passengers, the company is using three walk-through metal detectors and three automated x-ray baggage screening machines that passengers will pass through prior to reaching the pre-flight safety briefing rooms. This also provides redundancy while machines are maintained without a decrease in service.

All security equipment, checkpoint screening and threat-detection services are provided by trained Transportation Security Administration personnel. These security procedures are similar to what would be found at a major airport, which is fitting for the largest private heliport in the country.

Figure 3. An aerial view of Bristow’s base in Galliano. The new permanent terminal will be on the left side of the property.

The company is also introducing increased baggage handling services for clients. Travellers are now able to place their bags at a secure drop-off point located beyond the security checkpoint with Bristow staff members on hand to transport and load their baggage onto the helicopters.

Passenger experience

For passengers on an aircraft heading offshore through Galliano, the following is a brief overview of procedures and what to expect, helping expedite the arrival and check-in process:


Bristow has expanded its parking lot availability to support the consistent growth, with shuttle services throughout the lots both on and off site. Frequent shuttles will bring you to the terminal and take you to your vehicle when you return. Security patrols regularly monitor the parking areas.

Checking in

Check-in kiosks are located on the breezeway between waiting rooms. Live assistance from Bristow employees is available. Government-issued photo ID is required to meet both regulations and provide speed of service.

Passengers who cannot check in at a kiosk will be directed to the customer service desks, whereby further assistance is available in a friendly, face-to-face atmosphere.

Baggage storage racks are available for use prior to entering the waiting areas.

Recorded security camera surveillance is present in key areas of the infrastructure for enhanced security.

Flight processing

When passengers’ names/flights are called, passengers will proceed to the counters with their baggage for a final check before going to security.

At this point, baggage may be tagged for identification and tracking purposes.

Flight safety briefing

Briefings will occur after security and are specific to the type of aircraft that will be flown on that particular flight. This ensures all passengers have knowledge of the proper emergency procedures for the specific flight.

Figure 4. Bristow flies passengers from Galliano to offshore platforms that can be more than 200 miles into the Gulf of Mexico.

Briefing rooms are monitored by video camera for consistency and efficiency of movement.

Post briefing, passengers will be escorted to their flight.

Flight departure/arrival

Special passenger transfer carts are utilised for safety and convenience to and from the aircraft on the flight line.

Upon return from offshore, passengers will be guided to the covered exit walkway.

Global growth

In addition to the Gulf of Mexico, Bristow provides service to the offshore oil and gas industry in Africa, Australia, Canada, Europe and numerous international bases stretching from Trinidad to Turkmenistan. In 2013, the UK Department for Transport awarded a contract for Bristow to provide civilian SAR services for all of the UK. The company and its affiliates provide similar SAR services in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Cyprus, Dutch Antilles, the Netherlands, Norway, Russia and Trinidad.

Bristow also operates the Bristow Academy, the world’s largest commercial helicopter training service provider. The Academy has locations in Titusville, Florida; New Iberia, Louisiana, Carson City, Nevada; and Gloucester, UK.

Written by Bristow. Edited for web by Cecilia Rehn.

Published on 26/05/2015

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