AgustaWestland Chairman Says New Scilly Helicopter Link Is Viable Option

Chairman of AgustaWestland, Graham Cole.

Chairman of AgustaWestland, Graham Cole.

The Chairman of AgustaWestland believes a new helicopter link from Penzance is “perfectly possible” and he says his company would not be offering aircraft if he didn’t feel it had a good chance of success.

Graham Cole says an independent report produced by business analysts at PriceWaterhouseCoopers shows that the link from Penzance could be viable with competitive and affordable ticket prices.

He says they’re keen to showcase their new state-of-the-art AW189 helicopters on the route, adding that it will be a chance for people to see an aircraft that’s made in Britain and operated in Britain.

And the performance looks impressive. Graham says the helicopter could make the crossing from Penzance in around 14 minutes and fly in more adverse conditions than the fixed-wing planes, including low visibility.

Although they only carry 16 passengers, the speed, and having two aircraft on the route could ensure sufficient capacity.

There’s still some work to do on the numbers, he says, and he’s asked for further information on what a second aircraft could do during the quieter winter months.

Graham stressed that AgustaWestland are helicopter manufacturers and not operators. He says there are two companies interested in running the service and it will now be down to them to see if they can make it work.

There are no clear dates yet, because there’s still work to do on identifying a heliport site. And once the decision to go ahead is made, it will take around 12 months to build the helicopters.

Graham says most people he’s spoken to are “highly enthusiastic” about getting the helicopter service to Scilly back.

And he appreciates that some people on the islands might be thinking, “we’ve been here before and it’ll never happen” but he says that’s not his view.

He says many people are pushing the project forward as quickly as possible, including Scilly’s MP Andrew George.

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