Slow liftoff for helicopter association as market grows

The Myanmar Helicopter Association was launched last week at the Heliops Myanmar Conference and Exhibition in Yangon, with a view to developing helicopter operations across the country.

The newly formed association will be led by U Tin Aye, who aims to take on negotiatons between international companies and the Myanmar government to facilitate development of the business.

“The main purpose of the association is to advance helicopter operations in Myanmar, which has a lot of offshore and onshore operations. We think this could become the biggest helicopter market in South East Asia,” said Frank Boland from Global Integrated Service Ltd, during the May 7 to 8 Heliops Myanmar conference held in Yangon.

In Myanmar, most of the helicopters are currently owned by the military. In the future, the association hopes that more helicopters will be used in business, and for search and rescue missions. Companies are also very interested in the use of helicopters for Myanmar’s offshore businesses and for use in tourism.

“To develop the business in Myanmar, we need money and technology. Investors hope to run a scheduled helicopter service in addition to charter helicopters, as the market develops,” said U Htun Tint Aye, director at Air Mandalay Limited.

‘’We have formed a helicopter association but we can do nothing right now. Helicopters are so expensive, and nobody can land in Myanmar. We need helicopters and pilots, and permission from the government.”
Ultimately, the success of the industry hinges on whether or not the government decides to support it, he said. In addition, it is important to ensure that it benefits the Myanmar people.

“Foreign companies can help with technology, but they shouldn’t do this without involving Myanmar citizens,” he said.

He suggested that if foreign firms wanted to operate helicopters, the government could allow joint ventures with local companies, with a 51-49 percent shareholding structure.

“As I know, most of the companies are interested in offshore and tourism. Helicopter operations can be developed in Myanmar. But we must do it systematically,” said director general U Win Swe Tun from the Ministry of Transport’s Department of Civil Aviation.

Helicopters are useful in the mountain regions, and would be necessary for rescue operations during a natural disaster. But this task is currently assigned to the army, he said.

“The army does not need to follow the rules and regulations of civil air transportation. If companies enter into the helicopter business, they will need to follow the regulations, whether they are flying charter or scheduled services,” said U Win Swe Tun.

There is also a need to build supporting infrastructure, as Myanmar has insufficient airstrips to support a developed helicopter industry, he said.

“We hope this industry will develop very quickly, and believe it will probably change over the next three or four years,” said Mr Boland.

Source: Myanmar Times

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