Nuno Nogueira: From Lisbon to Lagos to Bergen, a Bristow Engineer’s journey
Bristow prides itself on its diverse and talented workforce in over 15 countries across six continents.
From Cajun country down in southern Louisiana to the Cariocas of Rio de Janeiro, across the Atlantic to the sandy coastline of Aberdeen, over to the harbor and Royal Naval College in Den Helder, Netherlands, down into the sprawling city of Lagos, Nigeria, or the picturesque Caribbean islands of Trinidad and Curaçao, or the sparsely populated Falkland Islands, Bristow’s workforce represents many cultures.
One of those employees, Avionics Engineer and Technician Nuno Nogueira from our base in Bergen, Norway, perhaps represents our melting pot as well as anyone. Born and raised in Portugal, Nogueira’s life journey has taken him from his home country to Nigeria, and finally to Norway, working on almost every type of helicopter flying offshore currently around the world.
Growing up in Portugal, kids aspired to become star "futebol" (pronounced fu-te-bol) (football/soccer) players. The country is home to one of the world’s greatest, Cristiano Ronaldo. Nogueira’s passion, however, was not futebol. He was motivated by a different calling – electronics.
From a young age, Nogueira was fascinated with mechanics and electronics, a passion that led him to attend and work at a specialized place at the age of 16. He learned about a variety of electronic equipment and systems, ranging from circuit boards to transformers.
"It was a small factory where we built items from scratch like amplifiers, power supplies, light control systems, etc. I worked on and learned about so many things,” Nogueira recalls, and it set the course for where he’d eventually go with his life.
After high school and his electronics’ job, Nogueira joined the Portuguese Air Force, where he was stationed at Lajes Field, Terceira Island in the Azores, alongside the 65th Airbase Wing of the U.S. Air Force working on the Eurocopter Super Puma.
"The American planes would routinely land there, so I saw A10s, F-16s, F-15s, B1s, B52s, C-5s, C-17s and a variety of other military planes. It was incredible."
It was during his four years in the Portuguese Air Force, where he reached the rank of corporal, that Nogueira discovered his passion for helicopters and avionics.
Following his military service, Nogueira took a job with Omni Helicopters in Lisbon, where he stayed for seven years. Omni (Aeromec) was a Maintenance Service Center for Bell helicopters and also performed many other maintenance services for other types and models of helicopters and airplanes, from Cessnas to Learjets to Saab 2000s.
“I used to travel all over Portugal and Spain fixing helicopters for Omni and other clients.”
In 2005, Nogueira began his career with Bristow in Lagos, Nigeria. He says it was a great opportunity to work offshore, something that he and many of his colleagues had a fervent desire to do.
Nogueira applied at that time to Bristow and several competitors, and finally got a call to interview with Bristow at Redhill in the U.K.
“They needed support in Lagos, Nigeria, and because I had both helicopter and fixed-wing experience plus all license categories, they offered me the job and I started with Bristow in 2005. The first thing I remember arriving in Lagos was the heat. Wow! Heat shock. It was hot, and the traffic was crazy!”
Nogueira spent 11 years at Bristow in Lagos. He began working on the Bell 206, 412 and S76s primarily, and then three years later on S-92s. “What I liked most about my time in Nigeria were the friendships I made. There are some really amazing and intelligent people there.”
In 2016, Nogueira made the move from the heat of Nigeria to the decidedly colder temperatures of Florø, Norway. "Norway needed the support for new contracts they had won, so I took advantage of the opportunity," Nogueira explains.
He quickly adapted to the colder climate, even earning the nickname "Nogueira Norrøna" due to his affinity for the Norwegian winter clothing brand called Norrøna. “You need the proper clothing here in Norway to keep warm or you’re gonna suffer,” he laughs.
It wasn’t Nogueira’s first time in Norway, he says. He had an S-92 course in Stavanger in 2005 to be certified on that model, and he said that he always told himself that if he left Nigeria, he wanted to work in Norway.
That wish became reality.
He says he loves working within different bases and flying out to offshore rigs and marveling at the engineering prowess and natural beauty in the middle of the North Sea.
"I have done a lot of avionics troubleshooting in my career when we've hit operational snags. I really enjoy helping solve those avionics snags whenever they may occur."
Fluent in Portuguese, Spanish, French, and English, Nogueira is also learning Norwegian. "I am spoiled because everyone here understands English, and it hasn't been necessary for me to be successful at work or to survive in the country," he admits.
Nogueira has all the categories on his license from “B1” to “B2” as well “C”, and is certified to work on the AW139, S76, S-92, Bell 412, 430, light general aviation aircraft and the Saab 2000. His more than 20 years of avionics experience allows him to perform a great deal of general maintenance.
While he loves working, one of the most difficult aspects of Nogueira's life in Norway is being away from his 14-year-old son, Rodrigo, who lives in Portugal. But despite living apart, Nogueira and Rodrigo maintain a strong father/son bond.
"When I travel back to Portugal, we spend practically all that time together," he says. “He visited me in Norway for the first time over the winter, so it was a special event. He loved seeing everything in Norway and meeting some great people.”
Away from work, Nogueira is an avid collector of many things, including bicycles. He owns some rare antique models of mountain bikes, and he’s even built one of the lightest bikes (in terms of weight) in the world. A magazine in Portugal even wrote a story on Nogueira after completing the project.
Nogueira says he used to race and compete, but now just enjoys the hobby. He also has a passion for working on cars, an interest that naturally grew out of his knowledge and love of helicopter maintenance and avionics.
Reflecting on his time with Bristow, Nogueira leaves no doubt, and makes no apologies, about his loyalty and passion. He admires the long-term dedication of his retired colleagues and seeks to follow in their footsteps. He hopes to leave the same lasting impression on younger Engineers.
"I love working for Bristow, definitely. It's been a pleasure all these years. I have had some great coworkers that spent over 30 years at the Company. I always looked up to them as the example I wanted to follow, to make the commitment over the long term to stay and thrive at Bristow. It’s rewarding to see that you can build on something professionally and do it alongside some fantastic people here at Bristow. What a ride!”