Govt. embraces Helicopter company
Caretaker Prime Minister, Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi, has thrown his support behind the Samoa Helicopters Company, cementing the government’s endorsement for the new investors to proceed with its operations to provide medical evacuation and search and rescue operations.
Meeting the Company’s Principal and founder, Rodger McCutcheon, this week the Prime Minister did not hesitate in granting the government’s full approval.
“When it comes to private investments where lives will be saved then government must take decisive action,” said Tuilaepa. “It is utter nonsense and ridiculous for any government to discard a service of this nature.
“You have the government’s blessing and support. And I urge you to proceed with full speed,” the Prime Minister reiterated to McCutcheon.
“Incidentally,” noted Tuilaepa, “didn’t the Opposition Party a few weeks back promised to launch a similar operation if they are elected into office in their vain attempts to lure voters?
“And even if they (Opposition) by a miracle is elected as the new government, where in the world would they secure a fully privately funded investment like the Samoa Helicopters initiative.
“I have been informed that the helicopter venture’s initial capital investment is in the neighbourhood of $5 million tala without a sene from government except for the normal concessions afforded by law for overseas companies to invest in Samoa.
“And to set the record straight, the helicopter project has been in the government’s thinking tank for years.
“And unknown to the Opposition, government has been silently negotiating with the investors long ago through the Chief Executive of Tourism Authority, Papali’i Sonja Hunter.
“Again, the general elections was never in the equation when the proposal was initiated and the timing reaffirms what I have been preaching to the opposition again and again to stop picking up my administration’s leftovers.
“Government cannot afford to wait until lives are lost and I urged Samoa Helicopters to start operations as soon as possible.”
Samoa Helicopters in the meantime has acquired the necessary business licenses; permits and have also attained the necessary civil aviation requirements to start operation in the country.
With its Eurocopter AS350 helicopter on island and equipped with the impeccable years of experience, Samoa Helicopters has the capacity to conduct search and rescue operations and carry out medical evacuation missions not only domestically, but to neighboring countries that includes, American Samoa, Tokelau, Wallis and Futuna.
Said the company founder and Chief Crewman McCutcheon; “I am passionate about saving Samoan lives. The first of two helicopters for Samoa was carefully chosen for its safety, reliability, passenger comfort and its versatility.
“We have the best pilots and engineers coming to Samoa who will make the Samoan helicopter operation as good as any in the world.
“And as a bonus we have brought with us all the emergency equipment, stretcher kit, life rafts to drop to people in trouble in the water, and even a fire fighting bucket.
“Our safety record and quality of presentation and maintenance meets the very highest standards, and we bring this standard to Samoa in the hope of making a successful valuable contribution to Samoa’s transport and tourism infrastructure.
The helicopter, which is now on island, according to McCutcheon “is the highly regarded Eurocopter AS350 made by Airbus”.
“It can perform rescue and medical emergency work, and also a very comfortable tourist and VIP transport helicopter with great views from any of the 5 passenger seats, it has 3.5 hours endurance.”
From Apia to the Faleolo International Airport, the Eurocopter can fly there in 7 minutes and to Salelologa in 15 minutes.
“The Samoa service is backed up from Australia, where the company has 20 helicopters at their disposal. Our motto is “Saving Samoan lives”, and we will be available to anyone in Samoa who needs our lifesaving speed direct to hospital from right across Samoa and also Tokelau and American Samoa and Wallis and Futuna.”
With 35 years in the aviation industry and having flown solo since he was 16 years old, McCutcheon is buoyant by the support from local government CEO’s and staff, and the Prime Minister who has also more than helpful and supportive of the helicopters life saving abilities for all Samoans, he very quickly understood the benefits of our work for the people of Samoa.”
Added Aviation Consultant David Tohi;
“The investor’s safety record and quality of presentation and maintenance meets the very highest standards, and they are bringing this standard to Samoa in the hope of making a successful valuable contribution to Samoa’s transport and tourism infrastructure.”
“We are looking forward to being a valued member of the Samoan community, and as the founder of the Samoa Rescue and Tourism Helicopter operation, I am delighted to have made the decision to move the helicopter to Samoa from Tonga, where we were told we could not fly for at least 3 to 4 months because Tonga has higher aviation safety standards,” echoed McCutcheon
“By the way, the Samoan Aviation Authorities have also accepted our 25 plus years of helicopter experience and we will be flying in Samoa, and ready to save lives, within a week.”