Airbus Helicopters, January 23, 2015 - by Beata Cece - In December 2014, Malaysia experienced its worst flooding in decades. More than 200,000 people were evacuated from their homes.
Cut off from food supplies as rising floodwaters prevented almost all land transport, they desperately waited for help. It arrived in the air: thanks to many Malaysian helicopter operators including APL, with its AS350 B3e and EC135 T2e.
After days of torrential rain, villages and towns on the east coast of the Peninsula of Malaysia, were submerged under an unstoppable muddy brown tide. The state of Kelantan was hit especially hard: The National Security Council (NSC) confirmed that the massive flood was the worst in the history of the state. A total of 2,300 homes were wiped out and 100,000 people had to evacuate their homes. As many roads and railway lines lay under water, displaced families and in some cases whole villages were unable to receive food or water.
Enter the Airbus Helicopters fleet in Malaysia: Around 10 local operators deployed their Airbus Helicopters aircraft, ranging from the lightweight AS350 B3e and EC120 B, to the medium EC155 and the heavy EC725, among many others.
The Royal Malaysian Air Force, for example, deployed five of its EC725s along with other assets to conduct flood rescue and relief operations. And Aerial Power Lines Sdn Bhd (APL), an Airbus Helicopters customer which received its AS350 B3e and EC135 T2 light helicopters only six months before the flood, also brought relief supplies to communities in need.
"Flood victims were asking for the 'yellow helicopters' as they were the most visible platform at the height of the flood tragedy. We penetrated isolated villages that were not accessible by boats, trucks, or any other machine,” recalls Wan Izani, CEO of APL.
APL manages and operates helicopters for power line operations and other related aviation businesses. During the flooding it demonstrated its capabilities in relief missions, using its two Airbus Helicopters aircraft to transport approximately 16 tons of food and water into rural areas of the state of Kelantan.
The AS350 B3e is designed by Airbus Helicopters to carry out demanding missions in the most extreme weather and geographical conditions, thanks to its exceptional lifting capability, high endurance, extended range and fast cruise speed. The EC135 T2 likewise offers high endurance and extended range and can carry more payload over longer distances than any aircraft in its class.
“Our pilots, crew and the machines demonstrated great precision flying, hover capabilities and versatility to accommodate different types of equipment, food, cargo and passengers in confined areas. Larger helicopters couldn't do this. The AS350 B3e and EC135 T2e made us proud. Our machines and our true passion for people helped us save lives," said Wan Izani.
APL, in collaboration with government agencies and NGOs, is continuing to deliver food and other basic needs to remote areas of the region. “We are also ready to perform MEDEVAC missions,” explains Wan Izani. “We are concentrating on places where landing sites are limited to a confined area and larger helicopters cannot land. Given the scale of the problems, we will continue to help for as long as required.”
Other Malaysian operators who took part in the flood relief effort included Helistar, Royal Malaysian Police (RMP), PLUS, Weststar, MMEA, the Malaysian Navy, Danga Bay, Sunway, Shapadu and MHS.