AN AUSTRALIAN helicopter company has teamed up with a group of Kikori landowners in the Gulf province to set up a helicopter flying school.
The project is estimated to cost US$10 million (K26 million), with the National Government already giving K6.5 million as counterpart funding.
Webb Helicopters Pty Limited of Australia will develop the project with Gulf Air Limited, which is the business arm of the Kikori Gas Pipeline Landowners Association (KGPLA).
Their representatives signed a memorandum of understanding in Kikori on Sunday.
The signing ceremony started with the delegation landing at Kikori oval in a maroon A$10 million (K16.3 million) Squirrel model series six-seater helicopter witnessed by a huge crowd.
This was followed by the signing of documents and exchanging of PNG and Australian flags by KGPLA chairman Mark Sarong and Webb Helicopters operations manager, Capt John Wells.
Besides operating a flying school, the company will also look at servicing the needs of oil and gas industry partners including InterOil, Oil Search, Petromin, MRDC and the National Government.
The groundwork is expected to start in the next six months.
“We are here for the long term and the flying school will enrol school children who are interested in flying helicopters and planes as a profession,” he said.
“We will provide scholarships for six students every year, starting next year, for the 2010 intake, so it is very important for students to study hard and get good marks at school, especially in maths and science,” Capt Wells, a former Royal Australian Air Force pilot, said.
During his RAAF career, Capt Wells served in Bougainville, Iraq and Afghanistan as a peacekeeping force helicopter pilot.
Source: Nation | The National Newspaper