1-Jul-2015 Source: HeliHub.com
The Government of Bhutan announced yesterday that they have selected the Airbus H130 following a recent tender process. Bell and AgustaWestland also put proposals in, while Enstrom declined the invitation to bid. The government will purchase two H130 helicopters at a total cost of around Nu 459.9M or $7.3M US if you prefer dollars to the Bhutanese ngultrum! A letter of intent has been signed by finance minister Namgay Dorji, and with final price negotiations still to be held, the expected delivery of the first H130 prior to 11th November seems like a very tight timescale. The second aircraft is expected in 2016.
The helicopters will be put to a wide range of tasks including firefighting, air ambulance and the transportation of passengers and cargo. Both aircraft are expected to be based at Thrimphu. An unnamed official suggested that the Bhutanese Government are hoping for a turnkey operation including maintenance, and are expecting to hire expatriate pilots and engineers is an interim measure until Bhutanese are trained.
With national airline Drukair operating four Airbus A319 airliners, it is feasible that this link played a part in the selection of the H130.
Bhutan is a small state at the eastern end of the Himalayas, and the local National Statistics Bureau reported a population of 745,153 in 2014. In the north, the Himalayan peaks reach up to 7,000m, while the central region features the Black Mountains (1,500 to 5,000m) and steep gorge valleys between. In the south are alluvial lowland river valleys, and mountains up to “only” 1,500m.
Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com