PhilJets Group founder and CEO Thierry Tea must be soaring high following the leading business aviation operator’s new orders from Airbus Helicopters for a brand new H145 and two H130 choppers scheduled for delivery in the last quarter of 2017. PhilJets – which currently operates six Airbus rotorcraft including four H130, an EC130B4 and an AS350B2 – is poised to become the Philippines’ largest Airbus helicopter operator with the expansion of its fleet of Airbus choppers to nine.
Both the twin-engine H145 and the two single-engine H130s will cater to the growing VIP, corporate and tourism customers of PhilJets throughout the archipelago, with the possibility that new missions will be added. According to Tea, they are looking at the emergency medical services and cargo transport sectors for future expansion plans.
“The limited oil and gas and military markets contributed to an understated helicopter market in the Philippines as a whole, especially when the market remains fragmented with a multitude of medium and small operators, and numerous individual owners operating one or two helicopters each at most,” Tea said.
According to PhilJets, the H145 is the latest member of the 4-ton class twin-engine helicopter family with a fleet of about 1,200 in service all over the world. While it is the leading choice when it comes to emergency medical service (EMS) and corporate transportation segments, the chopper’s built-in versatility makes it an ideal candidate for a variety of missions. The light rotorcraft incorporates Airbus Helicopters’ trademark Fenestron and innovative Helionix avionics suite for enhanced safety, increased performance and reduced pilot workload.
On the other hand, the lightweight, multi-role H130 – which seats up to seven passengers – is the largest of any single-engine rotorcraft and yet is the most quiet in its category. Aside from passenger transport and sightseeing, it is suited for a wide range of missions that include medical airlift, law enforcement as well as search and rescue operations.
According to Airbus Helicopters Philippines’ managing director Lionel De Maupeou, they are excited at the opportunity to strengthen the relationship with PhilJets via the new orders, adding that their customer base has grown by leaps and bounds in just over three years.
With 200 helicopters plying the skies, the Philippines ranks eight in Asia in terms of helicopter fleet (after Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China, India, South Korea and Indonesia), although the country is the second largest and one of the most active in Southeast Asia.
Philjets is expected to take delivery of its fifth Airbus H130 helicopter within the next three months, with financing to be provided by Taiwan-based Chailease Finance. This was confirmed during the recently concluded Rotorcraft Asia inaugural held in Singapore. The new H130 is the second aircraft in PhilJet’s fleet to be financed by the Taiwanese financial conglomerate, which has been growing its portfolio of customers throughout Southeast Asia.
According to Chailease regional manager Alexander Tang, the Philippines has shown “strong economic growth in the past decade, and the trend is expected to boost the local market’s demand for aircraft leasing services.”
Satellite-based aircraft tracking for Malaysia Airlines
Three years since the disappearance of flight MH370 over the Indian Ocean, Malaysia Airlines has inked an agreement with Aireon, SITAONAIR and FlightAware to launch a revolutionary satellite tracking system that will soon enable it to conduct 100 percent global flight tracking of all its aircraft anywhere in the world, including remote regions and oceans.
It can be recalled that in March 2014, MH370 – with 239 people on board – was on its way to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur when it suddenly deviated, flew across the southern Indian Ocean and then went off radar. Despite massive search operations, the black box and the main wreckage have never been found. According to Malaysia Airlines, aircraft tracking has long been a goal of the aviation community, and they are “proud to be the first airline to adopt this solution” using space-based Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) data as part of SITAONAIR’s AIRCOM FlightTracker.
While the whereabouts of most international flights can be determined with the ADS-B which tracks the aircraft’s position via Global Positioning System and automatically broadcasts the data to Air Traffic Control, ground-based ADS-B receivers have a limited range of 250 nautical miles at 28,000 feet under clear conditions and encounter line-of-sight issues just like radars. By placing the ADS-B receivers onto satellites, line-of-sight issues (especially when there are mountains or large solid objects in the way) are removed, experts said.
Aireon partnered with Iridium Communications to launch a new satellite network (expected to be operational by 2018) that will allow it to monitor air traffic across the globe. Last January, Iridium launched the first batch of satellites that will continuously track the position of an aircraft as well as its speed and altitude anywhere in the world. The next batch of Aireon-equipped satellites will be launched in June.
I was invited by Finance Secretary Sonny Dominguez to the “DuterteNomics Forum” held at the Conrad Hotel last Tuesday. The infrastructure plans are certainly ambitious, but I believe they are doable as long as we have the money for the projects. And according to Sonny and Budget Secretary Ben Diokno, “we will have the money and we will do it.”
If all these plans come to pass, then the effects will really be fantastic. I’m getting more details and will be writing more about this topic in my Sunday column.