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Flying in Mozambique

Mozambique B206

The civil war in Mozambique ended in 1992. About one million people were killed and five million were displaced before the fifteen year war ended.  Then, in 1994, Mozambique had its first multiparty elections and a period of peace was achieved.
In the last decade Mozambique has experienced remarkable growth with an average GDP expansion of 7% per annum and it is expected to grow more in the future as recent discoveries of natural gas reserves offshore start being developed into production fields. Estimates show that Mozambique could become one of the world’s leading producers and exporters of natural gas within the next decade.
This expansion has inevitably led to the growth of transport and infrastructure companies such as OHI Helicopters Mozambique, which was created in January 2013 and has as its main activity the provision of transport services by helicopter to onshore and offshore locations. The parent OHI (Omni Helicopter International) is a Portuguese company based in Lisbon and is one of the largest aviation companies in Portugal.
Helicopters are also used extensively in the floods that frequently affect Mozambique.The bad floods in 2000 and 2007, both involved large rescues by South African and local military helicopters. Recently, though, there has been some use of civilian helicopters even while the dependance on foreign military aid continues. In 2015, South Africa sent three helicopters to deal with the flooding in the central Mozambican province of Zambezia. Quoted from the online publication Defence Web, in January 2015, the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) Joint Operations spokesman, Captain Jaco Theunissen said that “an Agusta A109 from 17 Squadron will join the pair of 19 Squadron Oryx medium transport helicopters in the airborne command and control role”.
There was a fourteen day operation which saw the SANDF deploy a total of about 170 airmen, divers and medical staff.
There are also a growing number of smaller helicopter companies dedicated to aero medical, VIP and tourism such as Makond Air Services, who delivered us to our destination of Machangulo. Makond Air Services fly Bell series helicopters including the JetRanger, LongRanger and have the use of a Bell 212. The majority of their work is tourism or VIP, with some air medical transport. They also had pilots involved in the flood rescues in the last few years using the Bell 212. The majority of their pilots are from South Africa.
Owing to the recent growth of helicopters in the country, many of the helicopters are off-shoots of companies based outside Mozambique, the major one of which is South Africa. However, all the companies that we spoke to said that the potential for growth in Mozambique was phenomenal and that there was considerable interest amongst locally based councils as well as the national government in getting helicopter companies and pilots based inside the country.
As the oil price wavers Mozambique waits to see how their production will be received. However, in the long term as oil prices rise and all the concomitant industries increase in value, so Mozambique can expect its future to be properous and to contain many helicopters.


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