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Babcock Mission Critical Services Espana

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Safety is paramount as Inaer prepares for fire fighting duties in Spain
Spanish helicopter operator Inaer is gearing up for a busy summer of fire fighting, and once again will be allocating around 80 aircraft to the role.

Spanish helicopter operator Inaer is gearing up for a busy summer of fire fighting, and once again will be allocating around 80 aircraft to the role.

Government contracts have traditionally been viewed as reliable business, but recent financial crises have strained the system. “Even though both the regional and central government are trying to maintain current operations, during 2011 and 2012 there have been cuts in the budgets of some emergency services, base closures, and operating reductions,” says Lorena Rodrigo of Inaer. “However, if we look at fire fighting for example, the terrible fires we witnessed in 2012, with more than one million acres burned, more than proved the need to expand the budgets allocated to the prevention and extinguishing of fires in Spain.

“Since 2011, the biggest problem we have faced is the increase in late payments from the government, a situation which has generated significant liquidity stress and has also had a direct impact on our ability to meet Spain's fire fighting needs.”

Inaer is continuing to innovate to meet this challenging environment. It has conducted a thorough internal reorganisation of its structure in Spain, which is nearing completion, which has provided the company with a new management team committed to operational excellence and safety as a number one priority. “It is a new form of management, adapted to the current needs of the company and enabling it to face the challenges that the future brings and develop our work within the criteria of operational excellence, quality, efficiency and ultimately the safety of our operations and services,” says Rodrigo.

In 2012 Inaer completed more than 45,611 flight hours, assisted 6,650 people in emergency situations and participated in the extinguishing of more than 5,000 fires in Spain. However, perhaps the most important milestone of the year was the creation of Avincis Mission-Critical Services, which brings together 13 operators in 10 countries.

Along with Bond in the UK and Norsk Helikopterservice, Inaer benefits from being part of the major Avincis holding company which has spent over €400m in the past five years on new aircraft. The most recently placed order is for ten EC145 T2 helicopters for emergency medical service work. Deliveries of these will begin in the first half of 2014.

The company headquarters are located at the Mutxamel aerodrome in Alicante, and it has a total of 73 operational bases, with that figure almost doubling during the fire fighting season.

It operates aircraft maintenance centres in Alicante, Albacete, Seville and Salamanca, with a further 22 maintenance bases located throughout Spain.

Recent missions have involved a birth on board a HEMS helicopter, aiding a shipwrecked fishing boat in adverse weather conditions, assisting hikers lost in the mountains, rescuing a fisherman caught among rocks and devastating fires that involved 30 aircraft at one time, similar to those last year.

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