The proving flight was for Airlink to demonstrate to the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) operational proficiency in terms of ETOPS (Extended Range Twin Engine Operations) requirements. This is a routine exercise for new air services, and part of the preparations for introducing an air service on a new route.
A two-day programme was prepared to cover training and audits at St Helena Airport as well as various discussions with key stakeholder’s on-Island. During their visit, Airlink was able to assess Air Traffic Control, communications & navigation systems, emergency services, Rescue & Fire Fighting Services, Ground Handling Services, Passenger Assistance, terminal building facilities, and security.
As part of the training programme, Airlink carried out a total of 13 flight trials at St Helena Airport on Monday afternoon
Head of Operations at St Helena Airport, Gwyneth Howell, said:
“The audits and training on Airlink’s systems and procedures at the Airport have gone very well over the past couple of days and the Basil Read Airport Operations Team is excited and ready for Airlink’s scheduled flights to commence.”
Alongside the training and audits, there has been a great deal of work underway on the practical planning for the commencement of the air service and the opportunities for tourism development that the air service will bring.
Airport Director, Janet Lawrence, said:
“The proving flight has brought together the different specialisms from SACAA, Airlink, St Helena Airport, potential tour operators and those working in the tourism sector. My thanks to everyone who made the visit a success. The reality of a regular scheduled air service and the opportunities it will offer the Island is fast approaching.”
At a reception held at Plantation House on Monday evening, Governor Lisa Phillips welcomed to St Helena personnel arriving on Airlink’s proving flight to the Island.
Guests at the reception included the CEO of Airlink, Rodger Foster, members of Airlink’s marketing and ground operations team, the two flight crews that will operate the St Helena route, representatives from the South African Civil Aviation Authority, tour operators New Frontiers and African Ample Assistance, and Mantis.
In his opening speech, Governor Lisa said:
“The proving flight is a precondition for the scheduled commercial air service to St Helena and today moves us one step closer to Airlink commencing flights to the Island.
“I hope that we will not only ‘prove’ to colleagues in the South African Civil Aviation Authority that the Airport operation is technically very capable. But also that we will ‘prove’ what a special place St Helena is.
“We are very keen to start passenger services as quickly as possible, though recognise this cannot happen until all the regulatory approvals are in place. To the tour operators and marketing managers, we are looking to you to bring us the ‘right’ people. This means tourists who will appreciate what we have and who will tell their friends. St Helena needs investors who have ethical approaches and who will consider what they can put into the Island, not what they can take out.
“I’m sure this will be the start of many successful partnerships. There is palpable enthusiasm on the Island for the next step in St Helena’s history – one that will ultimately bring a better standard of living and a better future for everyone who lives here.”
Rodger Foster thanked Governor Lisa and all on St Helena for the warm welcome to the Island. He spoke of how pleased he was with his team and the teams at St Helena Airport and within SHG and St Helena Tourism for their hard work in preparing for Mondays flight.
Rodger was positive about the air service that Airlink would provide for the Island and was hopeful that there would be an announcement shortly regarding a commencement date for scheduled air services and ticket fares.
Video of the first landing of Airlinks E190 at St Helena
Thanks to Bob St Helena and the St Helena Gouverment