Go Back  PPRuNe Forums > Aircrew Forums > Rotorheads
Reload this Page >

Isles of Scilly Route

Rotorheads A haven for helicopter professionals to discuss the things that affect them

Isles of Scilly Route

Old 5th Jan 2015, 09:17
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Cornwall
Posts: 89
Isles of Scilly Route

Many residents and visitors greatly miss the S-61 service which operated on the Penzance to Scillies route for decades. The fixedwing Skybus service from Lands End using Islanders and Twin Otters costs around 160 return for the twenty eight mile crossing to the islands. Much talk continues with suggestions on the feasibility of reinstating a helicopter service and perhaps predictably in election year, local political figures loom large in such chatter. There are suggestions the AW189 might be used.

As someone with more than a passing interest in the islands, I wonder if those of you on this forum might care to comment on the feasibility of such a move, how many will it carry including luggage, wuold it be a commercially viable option? The former operating base at Penzance is now a newly opened supermarket and Skybus who own Lands End airport would not be amenable to share heir facility with competition of this kind.

Indicative of the chatter on the islands on the subject, someone has recently suggested introducing a seventy five seater Dornier on the route in to St. Mary's Airport, runway if memory serves me correctly being just 15/1600 ft. !
Non Emmett is offline  
Old 5th Jan 2015, 09:37
  #2 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Kammbronn
Posts: 1,977
Aircraft-type and capabilities are rather moot, since there's no sign of anyone establishing a suitable HLS on the mainland. Realistically, you're looking for a site close to both the A30 and the mainline railway-stations beyond Camborne. At a push, perhaps George Eustice MP's family could be persuaded to give-up a bit of farmland, and Network Rail could reinstate Gwinear Road station?

Last edited by diginagain; 5th Jan 2015 at 10:37.
diginagain is offline  
Old 5th Jan 2015, 12:44
  #3 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: Falkland Islands
Posts: 98
Ref. the 75-seat Dornier, don't know about that, but a Dash 7 would land in that distance with 50 passengers! Unfortunately none left on the UK register :-(
Ant T is offline  
Old 6th Jan 2015, 12:24
  #4 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: God's Country
Posts: 638
The issue of transport links with the Isles of Scilly is more involved than just the air link and personally I think the solution should be a joined-up one. Separately Penzance town has been debating an updated sea link for some years.

I think the two could be combined to form an imaginative and coordinated transport terminus based on the already existing rail and bus stations, with Albert pier alongside. To this site I would construct a Helipad on reclaimed land outboard of the waterworks and adjacent to Albert pier. There would need to be some serious dredging of the seabed on the outer wall of Albert pier to accommodate whatever vessel replaces the Scillionian III, no mean task as the seabed there is blue elvin granite. The helipad would enable touch and go of a smaller helicopter (perhaps a 15-20 seater, thoughts anyone?), which would be based elsewhere (say, Newquay, or Culdrose). Freight for the IoS could also arrive by rail direct to Albert pier (as it used over 100 yrs ago - the rail lines still visible in the surface).

Plenty more details to discuss, but the principle idea would be a coordinated and imaginative transport terminus that would benefit all, particularly Penzance which really could do with an economic shot in the arm rather than the kick in the crutch it could do without, as well as some of the 9, yes 9 supermarkets the town now boasts.
6Z3 is offline  
Old 6th Jan 2015, 14:23
  #5 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: no comment ;)
Age: 54
Posts: 757
integration of harbor PAX traffic with helipad and vertical
transportation is Win-Win strategy for users and services.
That is also in accordance to recent European inter-modal
traffic integration strategy.
9Aplus is offline  
Old 6th Jan 2015, 15:23
  #6 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Kammbronn
Posts: 1,977
Originally Posted by 9Aplus
integration of harbor PAX traffic with helipad and vertical
transportation is Win-Win strategy for users and services.
That is also in accordance to recent European inter-modal
traffic integration strategy.
Well, with their expertise at running an international airport, Cornwall County Council should find running a dinky little HLS a doddle...
diginagain is offline  
Old 6th Jan 2015, 15:35
  #7 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Redding CA, or on a fire somewhere
Posts: 1,648
As an outsider, it seems to me that it is just under 30 miles from Lands End airport to the Isles of Scilly airport. I also run a company that offers a similar service from Long Beach, (our private helipad at the Queen Mary), to Santa Catalina Island, which is just under 30 miles offshore.

Island Helicopters Not trying to advertise---feel free to remove link if deemed not appropriate.

We are using Astars, a Jet Ranger and an S-76, and charge about the same as your Islander flights cost, ($250 round trip). We schedule flights as needed, obviously in the winter we are slower, but in summer, we will have 3 aircraft doing about 10 to 12 round trips per day.

Instead of trying to go big, why not start small and build up..... just an observation is all.
Gordy is offline  
Old 6th Jan 2015, 15:39
  #8 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: Inverness-shire, Ross-shire
Posts: 1,179
6Z3, if people could do joined-up thinking then they wouldn't need a job in politics or the public sector.
jimf671 is offline  
Old 6th Jan 2015, 15:55
  #9 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: cornwall UK
Age: 75
Posts: 206
Flights to Scillies

I used to fly the S61 on the route.

I opened a thread on PPRuNe a few year ago to ask if there was a fixed-wing aircraft capable of operating into St Mary's, Scillies and carrying more than the 25 pax that the helicopter carried. Despite some interesting suggestions, there were no firm answers. I gather that in addition to the limited runway length the gradient, up to 6% in parts, is outwith modern regs. I understand that Skybus can only operate to it because of 'grandad rights.' I'd be interested to know if anyone can confirm or correct that.

As regards to development of the harbour, a plan for such was presented last year but came to nought. Lack of will? Lack of cash? ? Including a heliport up to Performance 'A' standards as part of it would be an enormous undertaking.

As regards a new helicopter service, it will surely come down to the oldest question, is there any profit in it? One of the problems of operating the heliport was that one small company had to finance the full costs of a licenced airfield including fire cover.
To start again, a strip of land some 400 metres by 50 metres to provide for Performance 'A' takeoffs/landings would have to be found, plus space for a terminal building, hangar and parking. CAA certification would be required and an IFR approach would have to be designed; it was a fully IFR operation. A site was proposed in nearby (5 miles) St Erth but local protest killed the plan.

Either at least one 25 seat aircraft or two 15 seaters would be needed/leased? You would need 7 or 12 pilots, engineers to cover a 15 hr day, ground-handlers, firemen and reservation staff. Penzance employed over 40 people at it's busiest. At its peak, two S61's operated almost non-stop during the holiday seasons and on a lesser basis throughout the rest of the year and carried 120,000 passengers annually but made little or no profit at the end.

The heliport opened the operation in 1964 on the back of British Airways who provided the first S61. There are endless rumours/hopes about it re-opening but it would need a hefty investment and some determination to get it going again
Boslandew is offline  
Old 6th Jan 2015, 16:03
  #10 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Midlands
Posts: 123
Exactly jimf, joined up thinking and long term planning wouldn't have replaced a perfectly good heliport with a supermarket. For anyone unfamiliar with the area, there is now a choice of three supermarkets on or adjacent to the heliport site, plus another new build about six miles up the road.

Regarding modernising the ferry link - that all seems to have gone quiet recently. There was a lot of controversy about the required alterations to Penzance harbour. The existing boat is nearly forty years old, so I'm guessing it will need replacing fairly soon.
Pozidrive is offline  
Old 6th Jan 2015, 16:25
  #11 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: cornwall UK
Age: 75
Posts: 206


Unfortunately, it wasn't a 'perfectly good heliport.' Even operating at capacity it wasn't making any money.

There was no overall planner at work here. It was called free enterprise. Sainsbury's, the newest supermarket, didn't say, "I wonder if Penzance needs another supermarket or should it keep its heliport?" They said, "If we can buy the heliport site we can build a new store there and make lots of money."

The 'word on the street' locally is that the heliport owners needed to realise the capital tied up there to pay off loans. Further, I'm told that there would have been few grounds on which the local planners could have prevented a new supermarket if sale of the land had been agreed. I'd be interested to hear if anyone with real knowledge of planning could expand on that point
Boslandew is offline  
Old 6th Jan 2015, 18:02
  #12 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: EGDC
Posts: 7,129
Some forethought and planning might have got the supermarkets to pay a wedge towards replacing the heliport or upgrading the harbour. Since they only build the supermarkets to make money, some of that money should be used to benefit the community.
crab@SAAvn.co.uk is offline  
Old 6th Jan 2015, 19:05
  #13 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: cornwall UK
Age: 75
Posts: 206

The supermarkets might have been persuaded to stump up some cash but the investment needed for anything meaningful in the harbour area would run into the millions. Any heliport there could only be on land reclaimed from the sea at vast cost. As I've already suggested, the setup costs of a new heli operation would be considerable.

I would be delighted to be proved wrong but if the most experienced operators of helicopter scheduled flights in the world could no longer make it work, it is difficult to see how any newcomers could do so.
Boslandew is offline  
Old 6th Jan 2015, 19:51
  #14 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: UK
Posts: 1,517
Why not have Twin Otter float planes that can operate from the harbours? Cheaper to operate than helicopters and no need to establish a new Heliport thereby reducing cost. I realise that this idea is not going to go down well on a Rotorheads thread but it would provide an alternative link which seems to be what the thread is about.
surely not is offline  
Old 6th Jan 2015, 19:54
  #15 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Sunnyvale Rest Home for the Elderly
Posts: 297

There are already plans for the harbour area, wonder if a Heliport could be folded in this?
leopold bloom is offline  
Old 6th Jan 2015, 19:56
  #16 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Sunnyvale Rest Home for the Elderly
Posts: 297
Float planes

Not really viable with the big seas around Cornwall.
leopold bloom is offline  
Old 6th Jan 2015, 22:07
  #17 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: no comment ;)
Age: 54
Posts: 757
There is no such certified seaplane available to sustain more of the
Twin Otter 40 cm wave limit. Even non PAX certified types are
limited to one Beriev BE 200 and one ShinMaywa US-2 capable to run
on 3 m waves but on approx. 80 M USD price per unit.

So helicopters or someday even tiltrotor are reasonable choice...
9Aplus is offline  
Old 6th Jan 2015, 23:07
  #18 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: USA
Age: 56
Posts: 119
Also, while we're talking academically, floatplanes cannot conduct an IFR or night operation, due to approach and landing area requirements.

In an area that is absolutely packed with floatplane operators, the Helijet S76 service from downtown Vancouver to Victoria BC, a similar distance to the Scilly Isles route but in a more sheltered area of water, exists specifically because it is the only way to do an IFR or night service to a non runway environment.

Last edited by inputshaft; 7th Jan 2015 at 11:01.
inputshaft is offline  
Old 7th Jan 2015, 11:58
  #19 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2013
Location: Midlands
Posts: 123
Boslandew, thanks for some interesting input.

Note your comment "set-up costs of a new heli operation would be considerable". Isn't that exactly what the planners should have been considering? Don't understand how the operator was losing money, but that's another story.

Had a long chat with an architect a few years ago who explained there was provision for planners to refuse permission on the grounds that existing facilities were adequate (e.g. number of supermarkets). But, planners never did this, because the applicant could appeal, would probably win their appeal and would claim their costs from the planning authority.

I can't help thinking if the Isles of Scilly were 28 miles off the Scottish coast the outcome would be different.
Pozidrive is offline  
Old 7th Jan 2015, 12:54
  #20 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2008
Location: DORSET
Age: 61
Posts: 519
BRYMON dash7

i handled brymon at LHR back 1977-85 and got to know them all well at PLH and NQY

when the new dash-7's were delivered we were all told they would op to ISC
St Marys with a LHR connection

i think a test/proving flight was done but nothing more came of it - i gather it was scary but don't quote me on that

the dash carried 50 pax and surely the economics of 50 pax all season would be
very good indeed
not sure is she could lift 50 off from ISC with fuel for PLH EXT or SOU for that matter

st marys has a 600m runway - Tyrolean flew into courchevel ski resort with the -7 and that is only 535m

Last edited by rog747; 7th Jan 2015 at 13:59.
rog747 is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us Archive Advertising Cookie Policy Privacy Statement Terms of Service

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.