With some long-awaited relaxation of the rules governing helicopter operations in China, prospects for the rotorcraft industry at last seem to be firming up. Last year the entire fleet (465 helicopters, 424 based in Mainland China) grew by 20 percent, according to the Asian Sky Group, which in February published the latest edition of its Greater China Civil Helicopter Fleet Report.
Government Flying Service
Two German police-operated helicopters returning from a training mission collided near the ground in Berlin while landing on March 21. Both were Eurocopter models, one an AS332L1 Super Puma and the other an EC155B1. The pilot of the Super Puma lost ground reference in blowing snow and struck the smaller helicopter, killing the pilot of the EC155. Seven people on the ground were also injured–four seriously–mostly by flying debris. The two helicopters were participating in a police exercise being held near Berlin’s downtown Olympic Stadium.
“Kowloon City used to be the place for dinner before flying from Kai Tak Airport. Now it’s quiet,” says Victor Lau, a helicopter pilot with the Government Flying Service (GFS) of China’s Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong (HKSAR). In July 1998, the GFS was the first tenant of the abandoned Kai Tak Airport to move 45 minutes west to the new Chek Lap Kok (CLK) Airport on Lantau Island.
Eurocopter and an unnamed UK operator have proposed leasing civil EC 225 medium-lift helicopters to the British Ministry of Defence as an interim solution to bridge the gap in capability aggravated by the British armed forces’ engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq. The plan would provide new, high-performance helicopters to the armed forces as an alternative to upgrading and maintaining older helicopters now in service.