Thirtysomethings...

Helicap and SAF Hélicoptères are celebrating their 30th and 28th anniversaries respectively this year. There is not much of an age difference, therefore, between these two operators which also have something else in common: they were both created by visionary men.


© Olivier Balmain
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EC135s for Helicap, the Ecureuil series for SAF Hélicoptères: the two companies have been faithful Eurocopter customers for the past 30 years.


© Olivier Balmain
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In 1977, Jean Capoulade created Hélicap. Initially, this company focused on training pilots and aerial work but, very soon, Helicapbecame a pioneer in medical transport. In 1983, the operator placed a civil helicopter at the disposal of a mobile emergency medical service for the very first time in France. Thirteen years later, Helicapbought 10 EC135s, switching to the twin-engine aircraft before the regulations even made this compulsory. Based in Issy-les-Moulineaux near Paris, Helicapis now one of the world’s leading operators of the EC135. The founder of Secours Aérien Français (French Air Rescue) or SAF, Roland Fraissinet is another legendary figure in the world of helicopters. A fighter pilot during the Second World War, this lover of the mountains understood very early on the helicopter’s worth for mountain rescue operations. SAF (the company has now become SAF Hélicoptères) began operating a helicopter in the Savoy region in 1979, and is still a leading player in air rescue in the Alps.
“In April 2006, SAF Holding bought Hélicap,” recalls Christophe Rosset, the Chairman of Helicapand the Chairman of the Board of Directors of SAF Hélicoptères. “Bringing the two companies together allows them to complement each other effectively and cover every helicopter activity, with the exception of agricultural work. Each company has kept its technical and sales teams, but we have pooled the fleets and spare parts management.”
The two operators currently have a regularly growing fleet of 30 aircraft. Between 2007 and 2011, SAF Hélicoptères will take delivery of a new AS350 B3 every year, and Helicap recently added an EC135 to its fleet. “There have been tough years in the helicopter industry,” admits Christophe Rosset. “But our two companies are good examples of what can be achieved in terms of longevity. These two anniversaries prove to us that we still have the right approach.”




_AUTHOR: ALEXANDRE MARCHAND


THE SAF HÉLICOPTÈRES AND HELICAP FLEETS

• Helicap: 10 EC135s
• SAF Hélicoptères: four EC135s; 12 Ecureuils (six AS350 B3s, two AS350 B2s, four AS355 Ns); two Lamas; two Bells
• Each year, the entire fleet performs approximately 10,000 flight hours.