Single engine helicopter safe and befitting for Bhutan
During the question and answer session in the sixth session of 2nd Parliament last Friday, the member from Panbang constituency MP Dorji Wangdi questioned the Minister for Information & Communications on the issues related to the arrival of a new government helicopter. The cost of the helicopter, safety issues and modality of its operation was also questioned.
In response to his question, the Minister for Information and Communication, Lyonpo D.N Dhungyel informed with regard to the safety of the helicopter that the government is working on it. He added that the helicopter that they have purchased is with single engine. Besides that he informed that experts were also consulted who expressed that the single engine helicopter is safe and most befitting for geographical conditions of Bhutan.
“If we purchased helicopter with double engine, it is very important to find out whether it will be suitable for our geographical condition of Bhutan,” Lyonpo said. He cited an example that few years ago during the time of election in Lunana where the time arises to use helicopter. During that time the double engine helicopter could not land up. Therefore, government has to use single engine helicopter from Nepal.
He added that the helicopter was purchased at the cost of Nu. 240 million and would incur around Nu.160, 000 per hour while on air.
Clarifying on the supplementary questions from the floor, Lyonpo expressed that the helicopter services will mainly compliment emergency services. Besides that the helicopters will be made available on hire for tourism purposes and reaching construction materials to remote areas while public service will remain the priority. If the helicopter is hired for tourism purposes, it will be cost US$ 5000 per hour and if it is hired by national tourist and the civil servant, it will be cost Nu.1, 62,000.
He also informed that, 47 locations around the country were identified as helipads and feasible locations in Gewogs were also being identified.
Further Lyonpo added that Bhutan Helicopter Services Limited which is a state owned enterprise will be managing the operation of the helicopters.
Lyonpo Damcho Dorji, the Ministry for Foreign Affairs also added with regards to the double and single engine, as the expert says that we cannot trust solely on engine. There are many ways to create problem. The reason for having double engine is used for carrying heavy load.
Lyonpo added that, in general as expert say that even if helicopter is having with double engine, for helicopter if one engine fails there will be problems. He added that, we have to look at the cost also as the double engine is costing double for the double engine than the single engine.
Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk, the Minister for Economic Affairs said that for the safety of the helicopter that from government side that they kept the cost of the helicopter aside, but they also looked at the safety of the helicopter. He added that the as expert says that pilot error occur mainly with the double engine but not much with the single engine. That’s way; we purchased the helicopter with the single engine.
Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay launched the first helicopter an Airbus H130 of the Royal Bhutan Helicopter Services last Thursday. The second aircraft, also a H130, is expected to arrive by May next year.