The Helicopter Company of Saudia Arabia (THC) was set up in 2018 as an independent company wholly owned by the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF). Surprisingly, it is the first Saudi-owned independent commercial helicopter operator in the oil-rich kingdom, and its creation forms part of the PIF’s mission to support Saudi Vision 2030 by establishing independent companies in new market sectors and at the same time improving the country’s transportation and tourism infrastructure.
The Helicopter Company received its AOC from the Saudi General Authority for Civil Aviation (GACA) in a ceremony held on 28 July 2019 in Riyadh. The company intends to provide private transportation services within the main cities of Saudi Arabia, as well as sightseeing trips to various tourism attractions around the Kingdom, and forms part of the broader stratgey to encourage the nascent tourism industry in the kingdom.
The company made its initial equipment plans clear when they displayed a Leonardo AW139 at the Saudi International Exhibition at Al-Thumama in March 2019 carrying the company’s titles in English and Arabic. The helicopter had been borrowed from Malaysian operator Weststar Aviation for the occasion.
Their intentions were confirmed with the delivery of a pre-owned Leonardo AW139 in September 2019. HZ-HC2, serial number 31239, was delivered to Setair in Turkey in August 2009. It was bought back by the manufacturer in November 2017 and registered I-AWTS. After extensive refurbishment, it made a test flight as ‘PROVA83’ from Vergiate on 13 September, and was delivered via Corfu later that day carrying its new Saudi registration. Finished in a striking red, blue and silver colour scheme, it carried no titles at the time of delivery.
The Leonardo AW139 is a medium-sized twin-engined helicopter which can seat up to 15, although it is often used with fewer seats for executive transport. Its design dates back to a joint project between Agusta SpA and Bell Helicopter Textron in 1997 which resulted in the AB139. The designation was changed to AW139 after the first 54 aircraft were built. Powered by two FADEC-controlled PWC PT6C-67C turboshafts engines rated at 1530 hp each, nearly 1,100 have been manufactured to date in Italy, the USA and Russia.
Now that its first aircraft has been delivered, The Helicopter Company intends to reinforce its presence by becoming a Platinum sponsor of the Dubai Airshow to be held next month. The CEO, Yahya Al-Ghuraibi, has stated that their presence at the airshow will serve to achieve better brand exposure, showcase its latest services, and announce its growth strategy, particularly its plans to expand the geographic scope of its services, which currently includes Riyadh, Makkah, Madinah and Tabuk, to cover all regions of the Kingdom.
– Robert Swan, Freelance Aerospace Writers, for Helihub.com
Photo supplied by Aviaphotos
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