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    Helicopters are in the news at the moment here in Ireland with the potential introduction of a scheduled helicopter service to the Aran Islands causing considerable controversy.

    See news story here.

    The air service linking the three Aran Islands with the Irish mainland has been in place since 1970 using the Britten-Norman Islander. The service has been operated by Aer Arann which later became Aer Arann Islands. The more recent commuter airline also entitled Aer Arann has since been acquired by Stobart and flies the commuter routes for Aer Lingus.

    Currently Aer Arann Islands operate three Islanders on the route from Inverin Airport west of Galway City. The service is partly-funded by the Irish Government. The new contract receives a subvention of €900,000 per year for the next four years, down from €1.3m per annum up to now. That contract has seen Galway-based company Executive Helicopters emerging as the preferred bidder. They will start operations in October 2015 from Galway Airport. However, according to quotes from some Government Ministers, the contract has not yet been signed! The news that Aer Arann Islands are to loose the contract has been met with huge opposition from the people of the Aran Islands. The situation is further complicated by the fact that the airport licence for Galway Airport is up for renewal in December 2015 and it is not known if the licence will be renewed. The airport is a relatively large, well-equipped, regional airport but no longer has any scheduled fixed-wing service operating from there. Local flying clubs and the occasional visitor are the only traffic at the moment, as far as I know. As a result its continued operation is constantly in doubt. It will be interesting to see how this contract is finalised and if indeed the contract will move from Aer Arann Islands to Executive Helicopters.

    The proposed type for this contract is unknown but the contract calls for an eight-seater aircraft. Given that they operate Eurocopter machinery, my guess is that they will go for something like the AS365N. They had a Bell 222 at one time but I don't known if it is still in operation.

    I'm not sure who I'm shouting for in this competition. My first memory of anything aviation-related is of the Islander passing over my house and disappearing over the horizon as a young kid. The sound of the Islander became so familiar. I also had my first ever flight in an Islander in the early 1980's. It would be a shame to see the faithful old Islander disappear.

    500 Fan.

  • #2
    The start-up date for the new helicopter service to the Aran Islands has now been put back to February 2016. It seems the issue concerning the future of Galway Airport and the renewal of the Airport Licence needs to be clarified, thus the Feb 2016 date. It also appears that the contract for this service has not yet been signed.

    500 Fan.


    • #3
      500 Fan .. a super warm welcome to the 'club'.

      Sorry for the delayed response but .. the site has been down for the past 10 days or so as a result of another 'upgrade'.

      Doesn't seem to make commercial sense using 'blitterblats' (as much as I love them) when airstrips are available for (as you know) there isn't really any competition (when it comes to operating costs) between 'planks' and rotorcraft.

      ps: Look out for some 500 photos on the Nostalgia Thread soon!


      • #4
        Dáithí Ó Sé Flies in to Malahide Castle

        Dáithí Ó Sé brought a license to thrill to the RTÉ Rose of Tralee launch when he was helicoptered into Malahide Castle to meet all 64 hopeful Roses for the first time ahead of this year’s 2017 Rose of Tralee International Festival.

        Dáithí’s dramatic aerial entrance, courtesy of a former Rose of Tralee escort and pilot Ted Robinson, ensured that the Rose of Tralee festival started in style.

        Dáithí Ó Sé landing at Malahide Castle courtesy of EI-POK being flown by Ted Robinson

        EI-POK at Malahide Castle on 15th August 2017

        Dáithí Ó Sé being 'chased' by Rose of Tralee contestants


        • #5
          Heli Ops Names Sea King after Dara Fitzpatrick

          UK based Heli-Operations has named its latest helicopter after Captain Dara Fitzpatrick, who died in the Rescue 116 tragedy earlier this year.

          Fitzpatrick was one of four crew members who died in the crash at Blacksod in Co Mayo earlier this year. Her body was recovered shortly afterwards.

          Heli Operations said it had a long working relationship supporting the Irish Coast Guard, and many of its crews had worked with Dara Fitzpatrick.

          Sea King ZA166 at Culdrose after her overhaul and repaint at the end of November 2017