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Take a closer look: Thomas Coakley

Thomas Coakley

Pilot, Offshore

After 19 years with the same employer, senior helicopter pilot Tom Coakley says it was a difficult decision to leave the familiar surroundings of a dedicated helicopter business to join a diversified global company such as Babcock.

“It was at a time when the helicopter industry in Australia was slowing down due to the oil price, yet Babcock appeared to be growing as a company,” Tom says of the May 2016 move. “It also had an excellent reputation, both within the industry and with clients, and its ‘One Team’ culture is very appealing to a new employee.”

Tom’s skills are highly regarded within Babcock Offshore Services Australasia, particularly his extensive leadership experience in Search and Rescue (SAR) helicopter support services for RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force) fighter and training aircraft. After accepting the offer to become an AW139 Captain flying offshore for oil and gas giant Chevron Australia out of Barrow Island in WA, Tom knew he made the right move.

“Since joining Babcock, the company has expanded greatly, but I haven’t really noticed any major changes as it hasn’t affected the company’s culture,” he says.

S92 Helicopter

After completing an S92 training course in West Palm Beach, Florida, his first day with Babcock was in Darwin working alongside new colleagues in preparation for the opening of company’s Darwin hangar facility midway through 2016.

“It was a team effort to achieve all the tasks in time; everyone pitched in – from the administration staff to upper management, to the aircrew – it was Babcock’s culture on display: one team working to achieve our goal,” he says.

Tom’s typical work day usually involves an early morning start for a minimum of two offshore flights. Preparation for the flights involves one pilot focused on planning and the second pilot preparing the aircraft for flight.

“We fly to a number of different offshore oil facilities from Barrow Island including fixed platforms, semi submersibles and vessels,” he says. “We normally complete our flights and paperwork by lunchtime and then we are on call and have personal time as well.”

“We work a 16 day on – 12 day off roster. It’s a great life.”

But the nature of Tom’s work also requires constant vigilance and determination to learn and perform at the optimum levels every day.

“I love the challenges presented to pilots on a daily basis, whether it be weather, technical issues or client requirements,” Tom says. “It’s incredibly satisfying to complete your flights to a very high standard of professionalism and safely deliver your passengers to their destinations.”

AW139’s on Barrow Island, Western Australia

The Babcock ’One Team‘ approach has also been a critical part of preparations and training for the introduction into service of the new AW139, a 15-seat medium-sized twin-engine helicopter developed and produced principally by AgustaWestland. Each team member has played a part in safely integrating this new aircraft type into the company’s fleet and the dedicated Chevron Barrow Island service.


“Babcock’s management and training teams are at the pinnacle of the helicopter industry in Australia and have developed a very strong and positive culture that is evident throughout the whole company.”

“Personally, I conducted a flight with an Agusta Westland pilot in Melbourne as part of the acceptance program,” Tom says. “New procedures, checklists, and systems have been developed, implemented and learned by Babcock’s team.”

“This has seen a smooth and safe transition from the S92 to the AW139 aircraft for one of our most important clients.”

Tom is a strong believer that one can judge a company by its workforce.

“I have had the privilege of working with and learning from some amazing people during my 25 years in the aviation industry,” he says.

“Babcock’s management and training teams are at the pinnacle of the helicopter industry in Australia and have developed a very strong and positive culture that is evident throughout the whole company.”

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