THC buys into Saudi Arabian growth

The Helicopter Company (THC), Saudi Arabia’s first and only commercial rotorcraft operator, has signed agreements for 43 new aircraft with options on a further 20.

Done deal: THC and Leonardo agreed to add 16 AW139s to the fleet, augmenting seven existing AW139 aircraft. Picture: Leonardo.

On the first day of HAI Heli-Expo 2022, in Dallas, Texas, THC announced that it had

placed an order with Leonardo for 16 Leonardo AW139s and a single AW109 Trekker, with an option for six more AW139s.

Late last year the company had placed an order with Airbus Helicopters for 20 five-bladed H145D3s and six ACH160s, with an option for ten more H145s and four ACH160s.

The ACH160 is a luxury corporate version of the basic H160 helicopter. THC had previously signed an agreement to buy 10 single-engine H125s in August 2020.

An Airbus H145 full flight simulator (FFS) and a Leonardo AW139 phase 8 FFS will be supplied to THC as part of the respective helicopter deals.

It is expected that the first AW139s will be delivered this month and that the first H145 will enter service in July. The remaining rotorcraft will be delivered in batches over the next two years.

These new helicopters will allow THC, which has been flying since mid-2019, to continue expanding its activities in Saudi Arabia.

THC was established by the Saudi Public Investment Fund as part of its strategy to activate new sectors in Saudi Arabia that support the realisation of the kingdom’s vision 2030 campaign to diversify the country’s economy away from oil.

Thus, THC operates tourism, aerial work, medevac, search-and-rescue and VIP transport flights, as well as supporting the oil and gas industry.

The AW139s, in particular, will support plans to develop an air ambulance service in the country over the next three years.

The new Saudi helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) will be operated in partnership with Saudi Red Crescent and will be called Saudi Air Ambulance. It will operate from 23 bases covering 90% of the population. Much of the infrastructure to support the service is being built from scratch.

Arnaud Martinez, THC’s chief executive officer, said that the service will start off with daytime operations but will eventually also operate at night using night vision goggles.

Jon Lake

Jon Lake

Jon is defence editor for both Arabian and African Aerospace magazines.