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  • Flightseeing & Heli-Tourism

    Cayman Islands Helicopters Hopes to Reopen Helipad

    A business offering helicopter rides to tourists could be given the all-clear to return to George Town waterfront in the latest legal twist in a battle with downtown business owners.

    Cayman Islands Helicopters, which also offers sightseeing flights from the airport, was forced to suspend operations at its waterfront helipad in June last year after a judge ruled the site was unsafe.

    ​Cayman Islands Astar

    That decision was overturned Wednesday by the Court of Appeal, potentially paving the way for the business to return to the location, where it had hoped to attract cruise tourists arriving at the Royal Watler dock.

    Chief Justice Anthony Smellie, in his ruling last year, pointed to flaws in the decision of the Civil Aviation Authority to grant an aerodrome certificate for the heliport.

    He advised the authority to reconsider its decision in light of his determination that the heliport was not in compliance with regulations and “may not be considered safe.” The Civil Aviation Authority suspended the aerodrome certificate, but appealed the judge’s ruling.

    In a lengthy judgment, made public on Wednesday following a two-day hearing in November last year, Sir Anthony Campbell upheld the appeal and dismissed an application for the certificate to be quashed.

    “In arriving at the decision to grant a certificate, the authority did not, at any stage, act unreasonably,” Sir Anthony wrote.

    The judgment vindicates the Civil Aviation Authority’s initial decision to grant a certificate to the heliport.

    The aviation authority said in a statement following the ruling that it was “pleased with the outcome of the appeal and the decision of the Court, as it validates the high standards and best practices that underscore the regulatory functions of the Authority. As aviation safety regulators, we remain steadfastly committed to the safety oversight of all aviation operations in the islands.”

    The initial ruling followed an application for judicial review from Axis International Ltd., which owns an office building close to the site and had complained of noise nuisance and safety concerns.

    The chief justice had accepted some of those concerns. But the appeals court decided that issues like noise nuisance fell within the remit of the Central Planning Authority, not the aviation body, and should have had no bearing on the decision.

    On the issue of safety, Sir Anthony suggested that the aviation authority had considered the deviations from the regulations, which are guidelines rather than legal requirements, and had reasonable justification to grant the certificate.

    Justice Smellie, in his original ruling, said the Civil Aviation Authority had failed to ensure compliance with the Overseas Territories Aviation Requirements or to demonstrate that it has ensured an equivalent level of safety to justify deviating from those guidelines.

    Issues raised included that the final approach and take-off area of the heliport is not properly marked, part of the safety area is over the sea, and no limitations are imposed for operating with tailwinds in excess of 17 knots.

    But the Court of Appeal decided that the Civil Aviation Authority had considered these factors and had the necessary evidence before it to come to the conclusion that the aerodrome was safe: “It was open to the Authority to be satisfied on the information before it that (Cayman Islands) Helicopters had complied with the conditions of Article 105 of the ANOTO for the grant of a certificate,” wrote Sir Anthony.

  • #2
    Cayman Islands Helipad Saga Not Over Yet

    A helicopter pilot offering scenic flights to tourists aims to be back in George Town this month following a legal victory in his battle with neighboring businesses.

    But the row surrounding the downtown helipad does not appear to be over yet.

    A new court hearing is scheduled for May, with opponents of the venture turning their attention to the issue of noise nuisance in an effort to have planning permission overturned.

    Cayman Islands Astar VP-CIH at the disputed George Town helipad

    Jerome Begot, owner of Cayman Islands Helicopters, said he was happy that a panel of Appeals Court judges had quashed a ruling that his helipad could be considered “unsafe,” describing it as a “logical decision.”

    But he said being out of the capital, with its ready access to a steady supply of cruise ship tourists, had hurt his business.

    “It has cost me a lot not being downtown. If you are selling ice cream at the cruise terminal and tomorrow you’re told you have to go to Frank Sound, you’re not going to make as much,” said Mr. Begot, who also offers flights from the airport.

    The Civil Aviation Authority suspended his airdrome license in George Town after the initial ruling, which followed a court challenge by Axis International, the owner of a property close to the helipad.

    But Mr. Begot is hopeful that his license will be restored within the next few weeks, following the successful appeal, which was brought by the CAA.

    How long he is allowed to remain in the capital could depend on the outcome of another court challenge, this time from another of his neighbors on the waterfront.

    Coastal Two, another business that owns property on the waterfront, is asking for a review of the Planning Appeals Tribunal’s decision not to hear its appeal against the Central Planning Authority’s decision to grant permission for the helipad in the first place.

    Coastal Two had complained about excessive noise from the helicopter, suggesting it made face-to-face and telephone conversations impossible inside its building and even caused the desks to vibrate.

    But the company did not file an appeal within the 14-day limit, and the Planning Appeals Tribunal rejected an application for an extension of time, allowed under the law in some cases.

    Coastal Two asked for a Judicial Review of that decision, and a court date has been set for May 20.

    Mr. Begot believes he has nothing to fear from the court challenge and said he was looking forward to being back in George Town again.

    “I would be very surprised if that came to anything. They were way out of time,” he said.

    “I didn’t do anything wrong. Everybody says it is a good business and people were very happy with us.”

    He said the helipad is scheduled for another inspection this month and some administrative details need to be sorted out. But he expects to reopen “within three weeks.”

    The CAA declined to comment beyond its initial statement welcoming the Appeals Court decision that it had been correct to grant an airdrome license to the helipad.;-noise-cited/


    • #3
      Victory at Last for Cayman Islands Helicopters over George Town Helipad

      The civil aviation authority of the Cayman Islands (a branch of the British CAA) and Cayman Islands Helicopters have won their appeal against a previous justice decision that forced the sightseeing flight operator to suspend operations from a helipad conveniently located near a cruise-ship terminal in George Town. As of April 8, the CAA still had to validate the certificate again, almost one year after it had been suspended.

      Cayman Islands Astar VP-CIH - now likely to be able to use the company's cruise ship terminal helipad once again ​

      In granting an aerodrome certificate to the helipad, “the CAA did not at any stage act unreasonably,” the court of appeals judgment reads. Axis, a local business, had raised nuisance and safety concerns to challenge the validity of the certificate.

      The original ruling cited acoustic nuisance and concluded that it was “manifestly unreasonable of the CAA not to have regard to the impact of nuisance upon adjacent properties,” namely Axis, which was complaining about noise and vibration. But the court of appeal agreed with the CAA that this was outside its remit and rather an issue for the Central Planning Authority. “The CAA was not required to take account of nuisance in deciding whether to grant a certificate,” it said.

      In addition to concerns about noise, Axis also raised safety concerns: that the approach path is not free of obstacles, part of the safety area is over the sea, and no limitations are imposed for operating with tailwinds in excess of 17 knots.

      The court of appeal did acknowledge there were errors in the manual Cayman Helicopters provided to the CAA. However, it dismissed all the safety concerns. While acknowledging that imposing a limit on takeoff in a tailwind has to be regarded as important, it also said that such an omission can be corrected easily by a revision of the manual. Therefore, “it would not require the setting aside of the certificate,” the judgment reads.


      • #4
        Sundance Helicopters Takes Delivery of Latest EC130

        Sundance have taken delivery of their lastest EC130B helicopter, N216SH, which arrived on 7th May 2014 wearing the company's new colours.

        Sundance Helicopters EC130B N216SH arrives in Nevada on 7th May 2014 wearing the company's new livery

        To learn more about Sundance's new livery, see here.


        • #5
          Maverick Named Best Air Tour Operator of 2014

          Maverick Helicopters has once again been named Concierge Choice Award winner for Best Tour Company in Las Vegas by the Southern Nevada Hotel Concierge Association (SNHCA). The 2014 win marks the fifth consecutive year that Maverick Helicopters has received this prestigious award.

          Some of Maverick's EC130's operating in the Grand Canyon

          SNHCA, which was established in 1990, is an association of more than 300 professional hotel concierge dedicated to providing the highest level of service to Las Vegas visitors. The Best Air Tour Company award was presented to Maverick Helicopters for its quality tours of Las Vegas and the Grand Canyon, and for making a positive impression upon concierge throughout the city.

          “We are thrilled to receive this award from the Southern Nevada Hotel Concierge Association,” said Greg Rochna, CEO of Maverick Aviation Group, parent company of Maverick Helicopters. “We strive to provide first class helicopter experiences for our guests. Receiving this award means our team’s hard work is paying off.”


          • #6
            Helicopter Flights Over the Victoria Falls

            Based in Livingstone on the Zambian side of Victoria Falls (the falls form a border between Zambia and Zimbabwe), United Air Charters introduced 20-minute flights in a "Huey" helicopter -- the widely used military helicopter -- in 2013 as a radical way to experience Africa's largest waterfall.

            With fully open side doors, the 13-passenger Huey zigzags above the Zambezi River before rapidly rising up and over the Victoria Falls

            With fully open side doors, the 13-passenger Huey zigzags through the 125-meter-high (410 foot) rock walls of Batoka Gorge, skimming close to rapids that make this stretch of the Zambezi one of the continent's best for whitewater rafting.

            Upon reaching the violent clash of water and rock called Oblivion, the chopper rapidly rises up and over Mosi-oa-Tunya ("The Smoke that Thunders") at the falls.

            United Air Charters Huey tours over the falls with an open door are $175 per person for 15 minutes and $330 per person for 30 minutes.


            • #7
              Vietnam Helicopter Corporation Promotes Sightseeing Tours

              Hanoi based Vietnam Helicopter Corporation is promoting a range of new sightseeing tours by helicopter. Sights include Halong Bay, Cham Island and Danag and are aimed at boosting flightseeing activity within the country.

              EC155 being used to promote flightseeing in Vietnam




              • #8
                Germany's Rotorflug Offers Tourist Flights in Malllorca



                • #9
                  Check out Over The Top's latest video:



                  • #10

                    Airbus To Cultivate Myanmar Market

                    Tourist helicopters could be available in Myanmar if Airbus Helicopters proceed with plans to roll out helicopter rental services.

                    Lionel Sinai-Sinelnikoff, vice president and commercial director of Airbus Helicopters Southeast Asia, said Airbus is aiming to bring in a number of helicopters to Myanmar before the end of 2014 in an attempt to cultivate scenic and charter flights.

                    “Our first target (in importing helicopters) ss Myanmar’s rapidly growing oil and gas industry. But we also hope that soon a few helicopters will come for tourism as well,” he said to TTG Asia e-Daily.

                    “If passengers want to go to a place which is quite far or difficult to get to, they can fly over or stop somewhere to enjoy a picnic or an excursion. This type of service is only offered by hot air balloons with limited capabilities right now in Myanmar. So we would like to develop these services but with helicopters instead.”

                    “The idea for tourism is that visitors can book helicopters through the hotel or travel agencies, and take a helicopter to their desired destinations.”

                    Sinai-Sinelnikoff said an official announcement would be made in future.


                    • #11
                      Air Methods Investment in Tourism Paying-Off

                      Denver-based Air Methods took a major departure from its core business model when it acquired Sundance Helicopters of Las Vegas for $44 million at the end of 2012.

                      The global leader in air medical transport made its first foray into air tourism when it bought the 28-year-old company that flies 16 different Grand Canyon tours with its fleet of 25 aircraft.

                      Air Methods then proceeded to make major investments in the Las Vegas operation to separate itself from the rest of the air tour pack.

                      In March, the company announced that it was converting its entire fleet to the Airbus Industries-manufactured Eurocopter EC130 T2, considered the gold standard in flightseeing helicopters. It’s the quietest helicopter of its class and exceeds environmental noise standards for the airspace over Grand Canyon National Park.

                      One of Sundance's EC130T2's over the Grand Canyon

                      At the same time, the company unveiled a new corporate logo and aircraft color scheme involving a unique application of chrome, gold and silver.

                      Two months after the helicopter deal, the company opened its refurbished 13,000-square-foot terminal on the west side of McCarran International Airport with a $2.5 million, 2,000-square-foot expansion.

                      So far, the investments have paid off. The company’s tour numbers are up by 10 percent from the previous year with McCarran officials indicating that Sundance carried 190,870 passengers in 2013.

                      On Tuesday August 26th, Sundance will debut its new
             website. Company officials are convinced the revamped site raises the bar for air tour sales and marketing with its use videos and photography, some of which were shot by Sundance CEO Bob Engelbrecht. “We really wanted to put together an immersive website, something that people could feel the experience as well as see it,” said Jeremy Irwin, chief creative officer of Agency Zero. “We wanted to show an emotional side of being there in the canyon.”

                      From the start of the three-minute video montage that serves as welcome to an easy-to-navigate window that enables viewers to choose their tour with the help of 10- to 15-second video vignettes, the site is unlike any airtour website in the market.

                      Windows on tour screens show photographs and locator maps of every tour option. Menus enable customers to choose the experiences they want to have and guide them to the tour that includes those experiences.

                      The site also emphasizes the company’s safety record, showcases the employees, provides for customer feedback and displays career opportunities with the company.
                      The site was produced by Denver-based Agency Zero.​

                      “We pride ourselves in our variety,” Engelbrecht said. “In addition to our multiple Grand Canyon tours, we have sunset tours and rides above the Strip. We also transport wedding parties for ceremonies at Valley of Fire (State Park).”

                      Sundance has a 25-year agreement with the Hualapai Indian Tribe of northwestern Arizona and partners with it on trips to Grand Canyon West, the tribe’s Grand Canyon Skywalk attraction, raft trips on the Colorado River and picnic flights within the canyon’s walls.

                      The company also holds several government contracts, works with film producers for aerial shots of Las Vegas.

                      Sundance has transported 4 million passengers to the Grand Canyon in its history, has 175 employees and has a $50 million annual economic impact on Southern Nevada.

                      Encouraged with its successful leap into air tours, publicly traded Air Methods acquired Blue Hawaiian Helicopters in late 2013.


                      • #12

                        Chicago Helicopter Operator to Open Private Heliport

                        Chicago’s premier helicopter tour and transportation company, Chicago Helicopter Experience (CHE), will unveil the first and only private heliport in Chicago – set to open late fall 2014. The new C.H.E. Chicago Heliport is located at 2420 S. Halsted, with convenient access from the EL Orange line and the river with its own water taxi dock.

                        The heliport is owned and operated by Chicago Helicopter Experience, who will use it as the main location for its flight operations. The C.H.E. Chicago Heliport is composed of a 17,500 square foot hangar building, two-story 16,800 square foot terminal building, fuel farm, water taxi dock, and parking pads for up to 14 helicopters – all located on five acres along the Chicago river just south of the Loop (city center).

                        Chicago Helicopter Tours EC130

                        “With our new Chicago heliport, we can provide Chicago residents and visitors with a completely unique and un-matched tour experience,” said CHE Founder and CEO, Trevor Heffernan. “As the only privately owned and operated heliport in Chicago, we own the land, the facility, and the aircraft. Therefore we can significantly cut excess costs and offer our customers the best experience at the best price point.”

                        The state-of-the-art facility, which will be used primarily for tours, maintains an ideal downtown location in the heart of city, close to multiple forms of public transportation. CHE is the only tour operator in Chicago to operate a fleet of the renowned quiet and eco-friendly Airbus EC 130’s – providing passengers with an unparalleled, epic tour experience.

                        Chicago Helicopter Experience is Chicago’s leading and largest helicopter tour provider. The daytime helicopter experience offers the ultimate tour of Chicago with stunning sky views of the city’s world famous architecture, iconic skyline and beautiful Lake Michigan. For that romantic occasion or just for a unique tour option, CHE offers twilight tours – an incredible way to see Chicago during the magic hour as the sun sets, casting a gorgeous golden light over the city and lake. The CHE night helicopter tours are an unforgettable way to marvel at Chicago’s most famous landmarks as they light up the skyline.

                        CHE founder, Trevor Heffernan has grown the company from a personal vision – to Chicago’s leading helicopter touring company in three years. Moving CHE to its own facility in Chicago will allow the company to continue to grow at a high rate as it expands in the Chicago market.