Caption: From left are Capt Philip Emeck, chief engineer Stanley Joe and Capt James Pima being welcomed by National Aviation Services acting CEO Capt James Imaka at the NAS hangar last Friday.-Picture by MALUM NALU
By MALUM NALU
Another proud moment in Papua New Guinea aviation history was created last Friday with the arrival of a Bell 407 helicopter at Jackson International Airport.
It heralded the birth of PNG's second 100% nationally-owned company involved in helicopters, Heli Solutions.
Champagne was sprayed and there were hugs and congratulations all around as the all PNG crew of captains James Pima and Philip Emeck, together with chief engineer Stanley Joe, arrived with the K7 million helicopter after a 16-hour flight from Sydney, Australia.
The flight took them through Brisbane, Cairns, Daru and Kerema before arriving in Port Moresby at 4.30pm.
Former PNG Defence Force pilots Pima and Emeck, both from Mendi in Southern Highlands, together with Joe, from Madang, are proud owners of the VIP-configured seven-seater, that can carry 1.5 tonnes and has a cruising speed of 130 knots.
It has telephone, stereo, air-conditioning, tinted glass and refrigerator for its anticipated VIP clientele, and had only clocked up 400 hours when bought by Heli Solutions.
Pima and Emeck, after leaving the army, worked for other aviation companies, including another local aviation firm, Helifix, before setting up Heli Solutions.
Emeck thanked all their family members and friends for their support, and especially Westpac for its faith in helping them to buy the helicopter.
They anticipate buying another one or two more helicopters in the very near future to boost up their fleet.
Because Heli Solutions does not have an air-operating certificate from Civil Aviation Safety Authority, it will in the interim operate under another nationally-owned aviation firm, National Aviation Services, until such time that it obtains its own.
NAS is owned and operated by former PNGDF brigadier general and former politician, Ted Diro, who was not present for last Friday's arrival.
Acting CEO of NAS, former PNGDF pilot John Imaka, said aviation was booming in PNG with the mining, oil and gas projects, however, only a few nationals were direct participants in it.
Imaka said NAS was only too pleased to help Heli Solutions because it was an all-PNG company helping another all-PNG company in the highly-regulated aviation industry.
Koroba-Kopiago MP, John Kekeno, said it was a proud moment for Southern Highlands and PNG with the arrival of a helicopter, which was owned and operated by an all-PNG crew.