Since the end of the second world war, helicopters have played a vital role in firefighting, law enforcement, emergency medical services, search and rescue, agricultural crop spraying, mosquito control, powerline operation, and cargo delivery. With the increasing popularity of helicopters as the perfect tools to complete the above missions, the need for helicopter training schools has never been bigger.
The use of helicopters for special missions in Asia-Pacific had been quite limited, but in the past 20-years governments around the region, as well as the public, have gradually grown towards seeing how practical the use of a helicopter can be for certain missions.
In China, the government established the Ministry of Emergency Management, which uses a fleet of helicopters to react to natural disasters like floods, typhoons, and earthquakes. In Australia, helicopters are widely used in EMS and Search and Rescue roles, but unlike in mainland China, they are mainly operated be the state governments, with some support coming from voluntary organizations. This is the most common way to manage special mission helicopters in Asia-Pacific, as the centralized management by the government, alongside support from the public, helps guarantee both efficiency and quality.
Currently, most pilots find themselves approaching companies with a view to building up their experience through general charter work, tourism support and power line inspections. Aerial agriculture is a growing area in Australia, especially in areas where crops are grown in challenging terrain. There is also growth in more sophisticated operations, including EMS, SAR, and marine pilot transfer operations.
With increased demand and growing opportunities, there are more and more helicopter training schools in Asia-Pacific offering special mission training courses to cultivate helicopter pilots for governments and non-profit organizations, such as The Red Cross.
Across Asia-Pacific, EMS training courses are the most popular type of special mission courses, with 17 schools offering this type of training. Firefighting and then SAR training courses come next. Among these different missions, SAR is the most difficult and challenging course. The number of schools that offered law enforcement and powerline courses were lower, as the training schools that offered these courses are mainly operated by governments.
In mainland China, Avion Pacific Limited was the first company that offered special mission training, which it began in 2011. Before 2018, Avion Pacific trainees were sent to Hong Kong or the United States for practical flight training. In 2018, the subsidiary company of Avion Pacific, Kings Aviation, set up a base in Yangjiang Heshan Airport for trainees to take special mission flying courses inside mainland China.
As the need for special mission training is growing across Asia- Pacific, it is expected that more training schools will be needed to provide special mission courses.
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