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Portugal strengthens fire-fighting helicopter fleet

Proteção Civil is considering chartering two Kamov 32As

Two weeks after the activation of the seasonal firefighting plan in Portugal, the country is preparing to upgrade its helicopter fleet. In particular, the Proteção Civil has considered the lease of another two Kamov 32A11BC helicopters, to be entrusted to the operator Heliportugal, whose fleet includes another three heavy aircraft of the same model, leased with a contract worth 5.5 million Euros per year. But there's a problem.

In fact, the command of these fire-fighting helicopters is entrusted to pilots, with proven experience of Ukrainian and Moldovan nationality, who speak English. However, to improve the efficiency of the fight against the fires, the Portuguese Autoridade Nacional de Aviação Civil (Anac) would now like to modify the requirements of the contract: it requires "for safety reasons" that pilots pass a language proficiency test level 4 Portuguese. This is to allow for better coordination.

Except that June 1, 2023, the start date of the fire campaign, is around the corner. Therefore Heliportugal has asked for the total suspension of the new rule for at least one year. So Anac gave in, on the condition, however, that the Ukrainian and Moldovan pilots, who speak English, are accompanied on board the Kamov helicopters by a second Portuguese-speaking pilot. 

On the same topic see also the article published by AVIONEWS.

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AVIONEWS - World Aeronautical Press Agency