The Helicopter Company (THC) has taken delivery of its first Airbus ACH160 helicopter. The aircraft is the first of six to be supplied by Airbus Corporate Helicopters in ACH160 Line configuration and will enter into corporate aviation services with Red Sea Global, which becomes the Middle East launch customer of the ACH160.
Additionally, THC has ordered a further four ACH160s with an option for four more, taking its total commitments to 10 ACH160s, on top of the 10 H125 and five H145 helicopters already delivered and a further 15 H145 helicopters to be delivered across 2023 and 2024.
CEO of THC Arnaud Martinez says: “THC is thrilled to receive our first ACH160 to immediately be deployed for corporate transport services with Red Sea Global on the west coast of Saudi Arabia.”
Airbus Helicopters CEO Bruno Even adds: “I am delighted to see the success of THC in building the commercial helicopter sector in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and honoured by the expression of confidence represented by its new orders. And I congratulate Red Sea Global in putting into service in the Middle East the world's most technologically advanced helicopter with its outstanding levels of comfort and safety.”
Red Sea Global is the developer behind two of the world's most ambitious regenerative tourism projects, the Red Sea and Amaala developments on the west coast of Saudi Arabia.
THC is at the forefront of developing commercial helicopter services in the Kingdom and has already introduced the H145 into service for emergency medical services and deployed both the H145 and H125 in support of the Dakar Rally.
The company has also entered into an agreement with SkyTrac Systems to enable Low Earth Orbit (LEO) satellite, 4G/LTE cellular and Wi-Fi connectivity as well as advanced mission capabilities for its entire fleet of Airbus and Leonardo helicopters. The partnership will provide THC with a truly connected aircraft in an all-in-one platform for connectivity, communications, data-driven operational insights, engineering and client support, and pilot situational awareness.
In addition to reliable, low latency connectivity, SkyTrac will provide THC's fleet with mission-critical capabilities, including SkyWeb automated flight following and mission monitoring, SAFR flight data monitoring (FDM), real-time HUMS (RT HUMS) alerting, Iridium satellite push-to-talk (PTT) communications, voice and text messaging, as well as the SkyTrac inflight iOS application used by pilots to enhance cockpit situational awareness with real-time weather detection, Marine AIS, NOTAM alerts and geo-referencing capabilities.
Launching services in 2019, THC was established to activate new industries in the Kingdom that support the realisation of Vision 2030, a unique, transformative economic and social reform blueprint set to open Saudi Arabia up to the world. THC offers aerial work for construction projects, filmography, surveying, private charters, search-and-rescue and tourism. Additionally, it has been mandated to rapidly develop a comprehensive nationwide helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) sector within three years. The programme, dubbed Saudi Air Ambulance, will operate with 23 bases, of which 13 are in progress of being established.
SkyTrac, operating in virtually every category of aviation, including aerial firefighting, commercial air transport, business aviation, emergency services, general aviation, law enforcement, oil and gas, scientific exploration and unmanned aviation, was the ideal choice for THC's varied operational requirements.
“We selected SkyTrac for its ability to provide in-country support, its comprehensive product and capability offerings, and ongoing commitment to innovation,” says THC chief technical operations officer Philip Markham. “SkyTrac has a long history serving numerous segments of aviation, and we believe its commitment to long-term partnerships is what sets it apart from other firms.”
A critical piece of Vision 2030, THC will be relied upon for a multitude of transformational projects requiring the highest levels of safety and operational excellence. THC will support many infrastructure projects across the Kingdom, including the Al Ula, NEOM and Red Sea regions. One such project will cover 26,500 sq km and extend 460 km along the coast of the Red Sea. The project, estimated at $500 billion and wholly owned by the PIF, will require the support of THC to charter staff, construction materials and other resources.
THC will also support projects that set new standards in regenerative tourism and sustainable development, which will require their own dedicated airport, easily accessible year-round to visitors from around the world. Similarly, THC will support programmes established to protect and safeguard the region of outstanding natural and cultural significance in northwest Saudi Arabia.
Vision 2030's plans require THC to aggressively scale, which has spurred recent orders, including 20 Airbus H145, six Airbus H160 and 16 Leonardo AW139 helicopters, as announced at the Helicopter Association International's 2022 Heli Expo. In response to these fleet expansions, SkyTrac will establish in-country support for what will be the world's fastest-growing multi-industry operator.
“Our inclusion in the Kingdom's aerospace operations is a testament to the capabilities of SkyTrac's fully integrated systems and the company's growing reputation as a global platform for connectivity,” mentions Jan van der Heul, VP of sales and marketing, SkyTrac. “We are honoured to support THC fleet-wide with SkyTrac intelligent connectivity and mission capabilities.”