Menominee, Michigan-based Enstrom Helicopter recently announced the Zambian Air Force (ZAF) has signed a contract for two Enstrom 480B helicopters, which will be among the first new-build 480Bs to cross the factory finish line since Enstrom’s new ownership. Terms of the sale, administered by the country’s Ministry of Defense, include training for pilots and support personnel. The helicopters will be used for training and utility missions from their base in Lusaka, Zambia.
Enstrom Helicopter was acquired out of bankruptcy just less than a year ago (May 2022) by Surack Enterprises, led by musical equipment entrepreneur and Enstrom owner-pilot Chuck Surack. The business plan called for a hasty return to production, with the aim of updating existing models with modern avionics and upgraded interiors and other components.
Dennis Martin, Enstrom’s vice-president of sales and marketing, said, “The 480B will be a lot more efficient than some of the other light helicopters [ZAF] were using, but with its performance and quick reconfiguration options, the 480B will provide the capability and flexibility they need.”
Enstrom coordinated the ZAF sale with Safomar Aviation Group South Africa. Safomar maintains and operates Enstrom helicopters throughout sub-Saharan Africa, and advised on peripheral elements of the deal, including logistics, specifications, and configuration of the helicopters, which will be equipped with cargo hooks and hard points for cameras, “as well as the latest in Garmin avionics and glass panels,” according to Enstrom.
Shai Shalem, Safomar’s managing director, said, “It is an honor to have sold two of the first helicopters off the line under the new ownership. These 480B’s are just the right fit for military and law enforcement missions.”