Denel to run choppers for TNPA

2014-04-03 00:00

DENEL Aviation have been awarded a R65 million contract to run the helicopter ship-to-shore operations from the Durban harbour.

Chief executive of Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA), Tau Morwe announced the awarding of the TNPA helicopter tender at a briefing held at the Chief Albert Luthuli International Conference Centre in Durban yesterday morning.

After a what he described as a “rigorous, open tender programme”, Morwe said TNPA awarded the contract to Denel Aviation and that it had come into operation on April 1.

Describing Denel Aviation as global player in aviation in the civil and military aircraft sector, Denel Aviation CEO Mike Kgobe said the company was looking to become the “principal aviation partner with government and state-owned companies … this [contract] is a step in that direction”.

The ship-to-shore operation in which maritime pilots are ferried from the base station in Durban harbour out to ships at sea was previously run by Acher Aviation, a specialist operator in the field of ship-to-shore service, who held the contract for the last 17 years.

Chief Harbour Master Rufus Lekala said the contract was awarded in line with government’s drive to create jobs and Section 11 of the National Ports Act of 2005, which mandates TNPA to ensure that historically disadvantaged individuals are able to play a role in the national port system.

The training of helicopter pilots and engineers for the ship-to-shore service was one of the TNPA’s transformation initiatives. “We have the helicopters and we have the hangars,” Lekala said.

“We looked for candidates from previously disadvantaged communities and we played the role of a change agent.”

There were over 6 000 initial applicants. This number was whittled down to 100 and finally 24 were selected — 18 pilots and six engineers.

The pilots are now fully qualified and licensed while the engineers still have a further two years of their training programme to complete.

The pilots will now begin their ship-to-shore training under experienced pilots.

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