BAN's World GazetteerSpain
Spanish firefighting specialist Helibravo has invested in an AS350B3e Squirrel to assist its emergency operations. “The AS350B3e is by far the helicopter that best suits our needs in the intensive firefighting campaign,” says md Nicolás Tamame Amigues, who believes that the Squirrel has a low operation cost and is a reliable machine. “Eurocopter has updated one of the best helicopters around, and we strongly believe that we can increase the presence of these helicopters in the aerial works market.”
Amigues does say that Helibravo encountered tail rotor problems with its previous AS350B3e, but that this was solved eventually. The company has experienced no problems with the current aircraft and Amigues is pleased with the way it is performing.
Squirrels are proving popular in the aerial work industry and Amigues says it is easy to see why: “Squirrels are good for almost every type of aerial work, and they are the best for some type of operations. There is no other helicopter with its versatility. We use it for fire fighting flights, external loads, aerial photography, and it is adept at all of these.”
According to Amigues, subtle differences in specification are valuable: “There are not many differences, but between them, the different engine (Turbomeca Arriel 2D) is the part I appreciate the most. The last Arriel was a great engine, but this one is even better. We can see the difference and I personally have the feeling that this engine could even give more power with a smaller cost, in consumption and in maintenance costs.”
Amigues hopes that the latest helicopter will help Helibravo reduce costs and improve its performance, given the difficult situation in Spain currently. “We are focusing our efforts in improving the service we give to our customers, by increasing safety with no price increase, with new helicopters. Last year we purchased our first AS350B3e, we continued this year and we want to keep on working this way,” he adds.
“At Helibravo we have made, and continue to make, a strong investment in our fleet and our staff, and we are right now looking for a new operations headquarters location.”
Amigues feels that Spain's troubled economic situation will be a major obstacle, yet affirms that the company has the infrastructure and careful planning to negotiate its way through: “In Spain, the situation is really difficult. Finding good financing from banks is almost impossible, and we are forced to a cost reduction philosophy. We will never decrease our safety standards but, as I said, the situation is hard.
“Our clients need us to adapt to new requirements, a product of the economic situation. We have to be as flexible as possible because we are all in the same situation. In my opinion we will have to adapt to these new needs without any decrease in safety.”