Kazan cashes in with Daily Air commitment for eight Mi-17s Taiwan's largest scheduled passenger helicopter service, Daily Air, has ordered eight 28-seat Kazan Mi-17 helicopters, and two Mi-17 MTV transports, to add to its existing five-strong fleet.

Pending certification by the country's Civil Aeronautics Association (CAA), Daily Air's first two Mi-17s will arrive in March 1998, and one will arrive every two months following. Daily Air director Chris Hsu says that the price of the Mi-17s, at $5 million an aircraft, was the deciding factor. "US and other Western helicopters cost too much," he says.

The operator's rapid expansion plans are the result of Taiwan's CAA lifting a ban at the beginning of the year on passenger helicopter services. Daily Air received the first operating licence on 1 June.

Daily Air plans to fly the congested 30km (16nm) route between Taipei's domestic Sungshan Airport and Chiang Kai Shek International Airport, and to Hsinchu in Taiwan's electronics-manufacturing district, as well as to Ilan on the east coast. All destinations are within 30min by helicopter. Ilan and Hsinchu have no airline service.

Daily Air will use its smaller Bell 412s and 430s and Kawasaki BK117 for VIP services. It has launched a VIP club, whose members get 13h of flying time a month for an annual cost of $140,000.

Five scheduled passenger flights are being operated from the eastern city of Taitung to Green Island, off the east coast.

A second company, Asia Pacific, has four helicopters: two Bell 412s, one Bell 206, and one Eurocopter AS350. It wants to acquire more helicopters, and has been talking to Aviastar Asia, which represents Mil and other Russian manufacturers in Asia. Far Eastern Air Transport, Taiwan's largest domestic airline, has obtained a licence but has not yet ordered helicopters.

Eight other companies have applied for passenger helicopter licences, and all of them are watching Daily Air and Asia Pacific.


Source: Flight International