The Aga Khan Development Network has now taken delivery of all four AB139 helicopters for use in south and central Asia. The first helicopter was delivered in a hand-over ceremony last October and the remaining three were conveyed in spring 2005.
They will replace two Bell 412s that the AKDN has been using since 1988 and which will now be retired. The AB139s will operate in the remote and mountainous regions of south and central Asia to ferry personnel and materials for the construction of the three campuses of the University of Central Asia.
The helicopters will be based in Bishkek in the Kyrgyz Republic, Islamabad in Pakistan, and Dushanbe in Tajikistan. Operations in Bishkek have been suspended temporarily however, due to the country’s political unrest, a spokesperson for the AKDN said. The helicopter will be temporarily stationed in Dushanbe until the situation improves.
The AB139 was chosen for its reliability and performance in difficult conditions – such as extreme temperatures and high altitudes – and a number of other factors, including its vertical lift capability and energy-absorbing landing gear.
“Our experience in the northern areas of Pakistan shows that the logistical efficiencies gained from the use of helicopters have had a positive impact on the beneficiaries – the poor in remote, high mountain areas – in terms of the speed, efficiency and quality of development activities,” said His Highness the Aga Khan, AKDN’s founder and chairman.
The pilots were trained by Agusta and the AKDN. Flight training took place in Pakistan.