Wednesday, August 16, 2017

2011, The Arab Spring.

Rarely do events on the ground not have some bearing on flight operations. The rapid escalation of rebellion in Libya was no exception.

Hot on the heels of unrest in Egypt, the movement to overthrow Libya’s leader gained momentum quickly. Sporadic protests gave way to a measured insurgency, and countries around the globe put plans in place to evacuate their citizens. World Air Ops was at the heart of it.

For one such flight, our client was a Dutch charter operator contracted to evacuate several hundred Dutch citizens from numerous sites around the country. The aircraft was ready to fly from Malta, the hurdle: obtaining a Landing Permit. Normally, permits are run of the mill work. We organise overflight, landing, diplomatic, military, charter, and special permits around the world every day as part of our flight operations, without issue. Short notice is also no stranger to us.

For a country entering a state of war though, the rules change – but our ethos is that whatever can be done, will be done. Our regular contacts on the ground in Tripoli were fast dwindling, and the situation changing by the hour. The CAA had closed, the UK Embassy, the US Embassy both left the country. NATO supported us but had no authority. We needed approval from a Libyan government that was concerned with other matters. The task was difficult, but the job got done.

“World Air Ops managed to arrange landing permits for our flight by combining the influences of several foreign embassies. None of these embassies had managed to arrange for landing permits on their own. The staff of World Air Ops did not stop working that night until the permits had actually been issued. On behalf of our company, and the people involved in this Libya project, I’d like to thank you for your perseverance and ability to deliver the impossible.” Michel Sneekes, Director Ground Operations, Denim Air ACMI.

An exciting helicopter ferry from Indonesia to Antarctica and back home again. Planes, Boats, Trucks, and an Earthquake made this one of the more interesting projects our team has worked on.

Lyttleton Port, New Zealand. Our client’s heavy-lifting helicopter sits peacefully aboard an Icebreaker. In ten minutes time, an explosive 6.3 magnitude earthquake will hit, with an epi-centre just 2 kilometres from here.

Perched aboard the R.V. Araon, a mammoth ice breaking ship belonging to the Korean Polar Research Institute, Kamov Ka-32 HL9470 was probably in the best place to withstand the oncoming quake.

Nonetheless, for World Air Ops, the aftermath presented some significant hurdles. Mark Zee, Director of Flight Operations at World Air Ops explains: “For an unusual flight, things were routine. Our task was to manage the entire journey of the helicopter, being repositioned from Antarctica to Indonesia (World Air Ops also provided the helicopter ferry from Indonesia to Antarctica). The Kamov had just arrived in port near Christchurch, completing a week long sailing from the Ice, and we were planning the final stages of it’s flight across New Zealand. The earthquake changed all our plans. Once we had established that everyone involved was ok, we were relieved, but the ship was sailing for a new port further South, and we only had hours to organise a long list of tasks to keep the mission on schedule. Fuel, landing permissions, customs clearance, flight plans – and most difficult of all, finding a replacement com/nav pilot that had been arranged for Christchurch.”

When asked about the outcome of the trip, Mr. Zee further states, “We did it though, and the achievement was very satisfying. From there, we put the helicopter back on a ship and sailed it to Papua New Guinea, where we achieved another milestone: the first helicopter departure from Port Moresby port. That was achieved by several days of negotiation with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and the Port Management. It was almost more difficult than the arrangements in New Zealand, but it saved the client around $20,000 in trucking fees, so it was worth the long hours put in to it. Given the challenges, the Kamov trip was one of our most rewarding missions.”

The World Air Ops team thrives with this sort of mission support which requires imaginative and out of the box thinking. We invite you to bring us your unique challenges and see how we best address them to save you time and money.

When Viking Air purchased the production rights for the DHC6 Twin Otter in 2006, an iconic aircraft was reborn, and the first new 400 series Twin Otter rolled out of the factory last year.

Working with a customer like Viking is great. The DHC6 delivery flights are quite different to any other; each one has its own set of challenges. And for an aircraft like the Twin Otter, the wide variety of operators that have ordered the aircraft means going somewhere new every time.

For a recent delivery flight to Peru, World Air Ops was already quite familiar. “We get a lot of traffic to South America – Peru, Chile, Argentina, Brazil, are the most popular. We know the environment well, so it’s great to apply our knowledge for the clients’ benefit”, says World Air Ops CEO, John Clark. “The Twin Otter is a short range aircraft, so stops are more frequent, meaning that we have to pay particular attention to arrangements on the ground. It’s ultimately very rewarding to know you’ve made the trip cost-effective and efficient for the client.”

Planning the trip was an absolute pleasure. The Lockheed L-1011 Tri-Star is a special aircraft, both unique and beautiful. The privilege of being involved at the end of this historic airliners’ career was a rare opportunity.

Dusting off its desert coat, L-1011 msn 1242 was prepared for what was most likely its final charter flight. World Air Ops was given the task of route selection, flight planning, and arranging ground support for a trip half way around the world – Central America to Europe, back across the Atlantic, and on to Tahiti.

The trip was not without its challenges. First, loading the flight planning system with accurate performance data took some work. What Lockheed published in 1968 when the aircraft was shiny and new was a far cry from the real world performance these days, so tech logs and aircraft records were reviewed to get accurate fuel burn figures. The initial departure from Central America was delayed a number of times due to maintenance issues, so Flight Plans had to be re-calculated and re-filed several times.

During fuelling on the stop-over to Tahiti, the tanker went dry, and no more fuel was available. So, another stop had to be put in place last minute in El Salvador, and a new set of plans, permits, and handling arrangements had to be made while the passengers waited. Dealing with the unforeseen hitches is all in a day’s work, and this particular job brought the team at World Air Ops great credit and customer satisfaction.


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