Yesterday, on publication of a UK PAC Report on St Helena Airport, DFID responded to media requests for comment by saying:
“One of the first things the Secretary of State did this summer was to take concrete actions to get the Airport up and running and to ensure the lessons from this project are learnt. We are already seeing the results.
“An external expert was brought in to review evidence of DFID’s actions while an independent panel has been tasked with finding a solution to challenges presented by wind shear.
“Following this work, St Helena Government has now released a tender for air services for a three year period to provide the best possible air service for the Island.
“18 flights have successfully landed so far – including three vital medevac flights. More flights are due next week. To uphold our duty to the island an extension of the Royal Mail Ship service will provide guaranteed access in the meantime.
“The Secretary of State is clear: we will deliver on what we promised for the Island and we will identify failures to ensure they are held to account, redressed and not repeated.”
In addition, St Helena Government observes the following:
- The UK PAC report was unable to take into account progress made at the Airport in recent weeks
- During this time, two large aircraft have successfully operated trial flights into the Airport, landing from both directions
- These were an Avro RJ100 jet aircraft operated by Tronos Jet Maintenance, and an Embraer ERJ-190-100 jet aircraft operated by Embraer Commercial Aviation
- Further trials with another large aircraft are expected shortly
- In addition, on 7 December 2016 SHG commenced a procurement exercise for regular scheduled air services
- SHG intends to appoint an operator or operators using an aircraft capable of landing on the southern approach (Runway 02), which involves a tailwind component
- This will be for a period of time, while we continue to explore the potential for scheduled services into the northern approach (Runway 20)
- And in order to continue to provide security of access to St Helena, SHG also announced an extension of the RMS St Helena service beyond 1 July 2017. Once scheduled commercial air services are fully established, the RMS will no longer be necessary and this service will terminate
St Helena Government also notes that the NAO report of 9 June 2016 – on which the UK PAC based its inquiry – contained a number of positive comments. SHG and DFID welcomed the NAO report and its focus on the objectives for investment in St Helena Airport, including increasing tourism, and economic and population growth – all designed to move St Helena towards financial self-sufficiency.
The NAO report also pointed out that estimating the likely costs and benefits of a project such as this is an inherently difficult task, particularly with a limited number of precedents for building an airport in such a remote location.
Meanwhile, work continues to mitigate the challenges of wind shear at St Helena Airport. We have always said that getting this right will take some time, and we are making steady progress.
15 December 2016
A Lockheed Martin C130J Hercules technical flight (aircraft pictured), operated by the Royal Air Force (RAF) and commissioned by DFID, is expected to arrive at St Helena Airport on Sunday 18 December 2016 at approximately 4.30pm local time. The aircraft arrives from Ascension Island, and on Monday morning, 19 December, is expected to return to Ascension.
The C130J aircraft will conduct an assessment of the operating and landing conditions at St Helena Airport. The crew, consisting of RAF pilots and aircraft technicians, will not be conducting any media activity whilst on St Helena, and will subsequently provide a flight report.
The Terminal building will not be open to the public on this occasion.
15 December 2016
An Embraer ERJ-190-100 jet aircraft (picture inset) – operated by Embraer Commercial Aviation, carrying three crew and flying from Recife, Brazil – is scheduled to arrive at St Helena Airport on Tuesday 29 November 2016, at approximately 3.55pm local time. As normal, this arrival time is subject to possible change due to weather and other factors.
The purpose of the flight is a non-commercial trial flight.
The Embraer aircraft will depart on Thursday 1 December at around 9am – bound for Recife – having completed some landings, take-offs and circuits at St Helena Airport.
The Embraer flight will provide the Airport with additional real time data and a pilot’s report – all part of building a more comprehensive picture of the conditions at St Helena Airport under which we will be asking a scheduled air service to operate.
This Embraer aircraft is one of a number of potential solutions to operating regular flights to St Helena.
Final confirmation of the flight and timings will be provided on Monday – listen out on local radio.
Note to Public
The public is reminded that, because of the siting of sensitive Light Detection & Ranging equipment (LIDAR), Mole Spider Hill is currently out of bounds until further notice.
Also, due to the small crew on board this flight, the Terminal Building will not be open on this occasion.
However, normal arrangements for public viewing will apply, with Horse Point, Millennium Forest, Bradley’s and Woody Ridge areas all accessible.
Please drive and park responsibly.
25 November 2016
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