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
- US Air Force gives Leonardo MH-139 a name – the Grey Wolf
- MDFR Orders AW139
- Petroleum Air Services adds 6th AW139
- Penzance Helicopters launches Travel Club discount for Isles of Scilly residents
- NHV gains a UK Air Operator Certificate
- Civil helicopter market presence grows in South Africa
- Helity appointed AW139 Maintenance Centre by Leonardo
- Leonardo delivers its 1,000th AW139 helicopter
- Russian operator Skypro adds fourth AW139
- Omni reaches over 100,000 hours flown in AW139 aircraft
- Era sets major AW139 operational milestone
- SPECTO Aerospace appointed helicopter Blade Repair Centre
- Wiking signs for two AW139s
- Leonardo working with Suzuyo on first AW139 Level D Full Flight Simulator in Japan
- Italian National Fire Corps orders five more AW139s
- Leonardo and the Italian National Fire Corps announce a major step
- P&WC adds Designated Maintenance Facility in China for AW139 operators
- Weststar AW139 and AW169 orders
- Coptersafety appoints a new full-time flight instructor
- Caverton Helicopters picks Thales for AW139 simulator