Farnborough, UK-based Gama Aviation has launched an initiative to enter the helicopter special missions market, having been inspired by taking over the rotary element of the Scottish air ambulance—something that saw it purchasing three Airbus Helicopters H145s.
Earlier this week, it presented the third “spare” aircraft in Gama colors that can support two new H145s in the color scheme of the Scottish Ambulance Service under a contract for NHS Scotland, while also exploring “other roles,” said Mark Gascoigne, managing director Europe Air for Gama. This could include windfarm support and VVIP work, he said, adding the company is also speaking with other HEMS operators and is interested in managing helicopters for corporations and private individuals.
Having taken on the helicopter side of its long-standing contract in Scotland (for which it also provides the fixed-wing element with two King Air 200Cs), after being dissatisfied with subcontractor Babcock, Gama saw an opportunity to enter the market for managing helicopters, too. It is required to operate the H145 type another three years under the current contract.
The two main Scottish H145s will start operations on June 1 out of Glasgow and Inverness Airports and nine new crews are currently completing training on the H145. A maintenance base has been set up at Glasgow Airport, where Gama has an FBO, and a new hangar is being built at Inverness Airport.
“This is part of a $20 million investment for us,” said Gascoigne. “We’re entering the rotary special missions market as a new player as we have the experience and the passion to make a difference.” The three first helicopters have been funded through HSBC, drawing on the influence of Gama shareholder Hutchison Whampoa.
Gama head of rotary operations Capt. Andrew Lister said the three new H145s were fitted with an Aerolite air medical interior, Trakka searchlight, and six belly-mounted LED lights.