He said it was important for the state-owned aviation company to upgrade its technical competence and facilities in tandem with changing times through the beefing up of its twin-engine helicopter fleet from the current three fixed-wing aircraft and 11 helicopters, including four twin-engine ones.
I am happy to see that Hornbill Skyways has switched to twin-engine helicopters to enable us to overcome unforeseen circumstances caused by bad weather and to access the mountainous regions of Sarawak, especially during certain times of the year when the rain and wind patterns can be challenging and may interrupt our services for long, he said at the Hornbill Skyways 30th anniversary dinner here.
Established in 1977 as a private entity, Hornbill Skyways was taken over by the Sarawak government through share acquisition by Yayasan Sarawak and the Sarawak Timber Development Corporation in 1985.
Taib said the company notching more than 130,000 flying hours to date was a considerable achievement in penetrating the most remote areas to provide medical services and other facilities to the rural people, including the semi-nomadic Penans as part of nation-building efforts.
It had also contributed in forging links to benefit the people such as providing air services for a total of 10 state and parliamentary elections since 1986 to ensure that the Election Commission could conduct the elections properly, even if it meant flying to one longhouse with only one voter, he said.
Earlier, Hornbill Skyways executive chairman Aidan Wing said the company planned to collaborate with the Integrated Training School (ITs) in Ipoh to train helicopter pilots and the Malaysian Institute of Aviation Technology (Miat) in Dengkil as well as the Aviation Training Centre (ACT) in Subang for aircraft maintenance courses with the assistance of Yayasan Sarawak.
He said it also collaborated with other aviation operators in technical assistance for maintenance and training purposes, besides looking forward to work together with Malaysia Airlines subsidiary FireFly to strengthen the provision of rural air services.
Plans are also underway to upgrade the companys fixed wing fleet by providing bigger aircraft to capture the vast opportunities offered by the growing economic development in the BIMPEAGA (Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines East Asean Growth Area) as well as providing air services for offshore operations, especially in Sarawak.
In terms of flight safety, he said constant surveillance was done by the Department of Civil Aviation through yearly audit and subsequent spot checks throughout the year, which would determine the issuance of the Air Operating Certificate, the licence to operate. Bernama.