In 2015, the government Flying Service (GFS) of Hong Kong decided to migrate to a fleet of seven H175 helicopters to service a variety of public service demands. With a tally of 5,300 flight hours in nearly two years, the H175 fleet has proven to be the multi-mission account GFS.

Equipped with a team of 41 helicopter pilots and 46 air crewman officers, having a fleet of seven H175 helicopters has enabled GFS to supply multiple services on a 24-hour basis.
“As a helicopter operator, we are quite unique,” says Captain Graham Dann, who has been with GFS for nearly 10 years. “We cover the complete spectrum, are often challenging, but keep everything fresh. we’ve a spread of teams available on standby for love or money and everything, with search and rescue missions being our bread and butter, whether it’s day or night, during a range of conditions, including typhoon season, maritime environments, mountainous terrain, and hot and humid weather.”

While search and rescue is GFS’s primary focus, routine business also involves aerial surveys, firefighting, maritime tasks, enforcement support, and offshore medical evacuations. Because the first operator of the general public services variant of the H175, the team also maintains a comprehensive training programme because it transitions to the new fleet. Despite the challenges of integrating the new fleet while maintaining their usual scope of commitments, GFS was ready to implement a training programme with the services provided by Airbus Helicopters Training Services (AHTS) on site.

“We are very grateful to AHTS’ pilot and crewman instructors for delivering extensive training in Hong Kong. We weren’t conversant with the H175 at the time, so it had been really helpful to possess the AHTS team here to answer questions,” says GFS Air Crewman Officer, Benny Chan, who alongside Captain Dann is currently involved the H175 training programme.

Hiking may be a favourite pastime in Hong Kong’s mountainous terrain, which suggests GFS is usually called to assist hikers who have wandered off the beaten track, fallen from heights or down a slope during heavy rain. “Teamwork is prime to those sorts of search and rescue operations,” explains Captain Graham Dann. “The crew, which is liaising with ground parties to seek out survivors, often increases to incorporate a hoist operator, a winchman, a medic and possibly members of a mountain rescue team.”

The scope of call-outs isn’t exclusive to land operations. GFS also receives variety of maritime requests that include the look for suspected drownings, surveying the amount of dolphins within the area, and therefore the rescue of canoeists and swimmers. They’re also ready to go further offshore and supply medevac assistance for commercial or cargo vessels. “With the power to travel up to 200 nautical miles with around 45 minutes on scene operational (and further if we refuel on an oil rig), we are ready to extend our rescue efforts beyond the square boundaries of Hong Kong and travel further out during maritime missions,” says Captain Dann.

Kanishka Gupta

Kanishka Gupta

Follow e-mobility, AI-powered auto solutions. Believe mass transit is the way to go for city travel. Riding enthusiast for long excursions in younger days. Edited a news aggregator auto content magazine for 2 years. Thinking person with insights and foresights. Reluctant job-doer and freelancer by choice--which I thoroughly enjoy. Value the power of the written word and a committed writer and editor. Favourite Car: Maruti Suzuki Baleno Quote: If you think nobody cares if you're alive, try missing a couple of car payments - Earl Wilson