KATE SARSFIELD / LONDON
But regulatory hurdles must be overcome before single-engined turboprop can operate special missions in the region
ExecuJet Middle East and Pilatus Aircraft of Switzerland are investigating the potential market in the Middle East for deploying the PC-12 single-engined turboprop in special-mission roles.
ExecuJet's Dubai-based operation, which was appointed a PC-12 distributor for the region late last year, says it has received tremendous interest from potential partners, for cargo, search and rescue and medical evacuation services, but regulatory hurdles are stalling operational implementation of the aircraft in these roles.
Horm Irani, ExecuJet Middle East managing director, says: "The regulatory authorities do not look kindly on a foreign operator coming in and providing these types of services, but we are working to get this cleared up." There are numerous opportunities for special-mission support in the Middle East, Irani suggests, "particularly in Iraq, which is opening up very quickly".
Despite this, Irani says the market remains relatively untapped. Abu Dhabi-based charter company Royal Jet, a joint venture between Abu Dhabi Aviation and the Amiri Flight, says it is the only operator in the region to offer a dedicated medevac aircraft, a Gulfstream G300, under its successful Royal Med programme.
To keep pace with demand, Royal Jet is expected to add a second aircraft this year and Irani says the PC-12 would complement this programme.
He adds: "The PC-12 offers both cost efficiency and performance. Its ability to operate from unpaved runways makes it ideally suited to the Middle East market."
Three PC-12s are based in this region. ExecuJet has a demonstrator and manages a second aircraft for a Kuwaiti national. This aircraft will be available for charter through ExecuJet in the next few weeks, Irani says, giving the type vital market exposure. A third aircraft is based in Cairo, Egypt.
Source: Flight International