The energy-industry downturn has created a huge surplus of helicopters, a sharp turnaround from two years ago when oil-and-gas companies were forced to share rides to and from far-flung oil platforms. Industry executives said a fifth of the 1,900 helicopters serving the oil-and-gas industry world-wide are idle or underemployed, and expect this overcapacity to worsen before it improves. Helicopter operators also have tried to diversify, expanding into search and rescue missions, medical and VIP flights. But John Mannion, a Houston-based industry consultant, said there is limited scope for redeploying helicopters to other markets or uses because customers differ in their preferences for aircraft types and configurations. For example, some aircraft are kitted out with new radar equipment, making it easier to land and take off from oil platforms in bad weather. Helicopters that primarily […]