-A. PAPA, KATHMANDU
Two Private helicopter operators of Nepal, Simrik Air and Altitude Air, are gearing up for a fierce battle with both of them racing to induct brand new H125 (AS350 B3e) series Airbus Helicopter into their fleet by this season.
According to the Highly placed source, the estimated cost of the helicopter is Nrs 310 million and is manufactured by Airbus Helicopter Company. Both the aircraft had been spotted at Airbus Helicopter Facility at Singapore. The aircraft is anticipated to be ferried to Nepal very soon after the acceptance process with the airline company.
Both the airline are presently operating H125 (AS350B3e) series Airbus Helicopter in Nepalese territory. The AS 350 B3e is powered by a Turbomeca Arriel 2B turboshaft engine and is well known for its capacity to fly at the high altitude about (23,000 feet AMSL) all over the world. The chopper has also proved its capability in Nepal especially in mountain regions. It has the capacity of 6 seats excluding pilot and performs flawlessly in Aerial Sightseeing, Mountain Flights, Rescue Evacuation, Corporate Charter, Sling Operations, High altitude operations, and other special adventure missions.
Likewise, Summit Helicopter and Kailash Helicopter also had plans to take delivery of one each H125, the most versatile machine in its category, by this season.
Airbus Helicopter says that they have delivered 20 H125 choppers to Nepalese helicopter operators over the past five or six years. Although AS350 series helicopters have been flying in Nepal for a number of years, the first H125 was delivered here in 2012.
Airbus received milestone from Nepal as the customers form the country including Nepalese Army, Shree Airlines, Manang Air, Simrik Air, Summit Helicopters (Formerly Fishtail Air), Air Dynasty, Mountain Helicopters, Altitude Air and Heli Everest collectively had already logged more than 50,000 flying hours with their combine H125 choppers.
These airbus helicopters are capable of flying in high altitudes which is suitable for Nepal as the country is full of mountains and hills.
When the unfavorable weather conditions cancel the majority of STOL flights, the helicopter ramp at Tribhuvan International Airport seems buzzing proving that Nepal’s helicopter is some of the busiest in the world.
Helicopter Operators of Nepal are busy these days carrying lots of tourists to their trekking destinations. Besides, rescue and cargo operation is where the helicopters are always busy.
Francois Bazin, head of Sales, Support, and Marketing for Airbus Helicopters India said, “In Nepal, the number of hours per helicopter [per year] is close to what we see in oil-and-gas. They’re flying sometimes up to 1,000 hours per machine. Considering that they are not flying all year long, but maybe six to eight months [out of the year], this is a stunning number which requires stunning people; stunning pilots and stunning engineers.”
Among original equipment manufacturers, Airbus Helicopters has unique insight into Nepal’s civil helicopter market because it dominates that market so completely. According to the report, close to 85 percent of the light single-engine helicopters in Nepal are Airbus products. Most of those aircraft are the latest evolution of the AS350 series: the AS350 B3e, now known as the H125 which is capable of reaching much higher than the base camp of The Everest.