Posted 259 days ago ago by jhadmin
Thailand in Southeast Asia is known for many things, but mostly for it’s beautiful tropical beaches, opulent royal palaces, ancient ruins and ornate temples displaying figures of Buddha. Oh, and let’s not forget the food!
The Kingdom of Thailand, formerly known as Siam, is composed of 76 provinces. At 198,120 square miles and over 68 million people, it is the world's 50th-largest country in total area and the 21st-most-populous country.
However, it is less known for the oil and gas fields that lie just off its shores in the Gulf of Thailand to the east and the Andaman Sea to the west. Even though Thailand imports the majority of its oil and gas for energy generation, it does have a robust industry that helicopters play an integral part in supporting.
Thai Aviation Services Ltd., (TAS) is a privately owned Air Operator Certificate holder registered in Thailand. For more than three decades, TAS has been providing helicopter services for oil and gas offshore operations throughout the region. Many global and regional players do business in the region; these companies include Texaco Exploration (Thailand) II Ltd., Chevron Offshore (Thailand) Limited, PTT Exploration and Production Public Company Limited (PTTEP), BP Norge AS, PGS Geophysical, GFI Oil & Gas U.S.A., Inc., Pearl Oil (Thailand) Ltd., and PGS Asia Pacific Pte. Ltd.
Thai Aviation Services Ltd,. was established in 1987 when the company obtained its first Air Operating License and initially provided services with with one Sikorsky S-76A and one S-61 N. Today, the company employs over 300 personnel, including 70 pilots and 60 engineers flying and maintaining an all Sikorsky fleet of five S-76Ds, one S-76 C++, and two S-92 airframes.
As a fleet, TAS is flying over 10,000 hours per year in service to its customers. “Our goal and mission has always been to be the provider of choice for the region in providing helicopter services to the oil and gas industry with a focus on safety, quality, and customer satisfaction,” says Nirundon Ragan, deputy managing director of TAS. To further enhance the customer’s satisfaction in its operations, TAS provides services that meet the safety standard of The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand (CAAT), International Association of Oil & Gas Producers (OGP) and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). Additionally, TAS has also obtained ISO 9001:2015, ISO14001:2015 and OHSAS18001:2007 certificates to further guarantee their customers a high level of standardization and professionalism.
TAS operates from the U-tapao International Airport and Nakhon Si Thammarat Airport in support of production and exploration activities in the Gulf of Thailand, including along the territorial waters of Thailand’s neighboring countries, such as Cambodia and Malaysia.
Additionally over the past 32 years, TAS has played a vital role in the development of the Thai helicopter industry and continues to set the standard for offshore helicopter operations in its country.
In addition to providing helicopter flying services for oil and gas support, TAS provides maintenance services to several Thai government agencies. Currently the company provides maintenance support to the Royal Thai Navy and Air Force. TAS is also seeking business outside the country with other partners in such places as Myanmar, Brunei, Malaysia, and Indonesia.
According to Ragan, even though TAS is made up mostly of Thais, it’s truly a multi-national operation as it employs pilots and engineers from other countries like Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the United States. Pilots are checked twice per year, once at six months within the company aircraft, and the second time is during annual simulator recurrent training at Flight Safety International or CAE. The annual line check has been performed in the aircraft. Engineers also get their type endorsement and training from Flight Safety International.
Six Tips for an Expatriate Helicopter Pilot
An “expat” is a person residing in a country other than their native country. Here are some pointers for U.S. helicopter pilots considering a career as an expat working abroad:
- Do you have support at home? This is one of the most critical components of being successful in international flying sectors. With typical schedules being 6 weeks on / 6 weeks off, one must consider not only the logistics of maintaining your home, but also how it might impact your spouse and family members. According to David Tibbals, retired TAS pilot and speaker at HeliSuccess Career Development Seminar, “A quality relationship with your significant other is vital. You cannot use a 6 week on / 6 week off schedule as a ‘fix’ for a poor relationship.”
- Can you disassociate yourself from your surroundings? Some countries in which international flying occurs have second- and third-world components to them that can create a psychological burden if one has not experienced it before.
- Are you accepting of other cultures? Being able to accept and respect different cultural norms, while at the same time being able to perform your job at a high-level can be challenging. The biggest mistake pilots may make is thinking that they can change certain aspects of the culture they are living and working in. Not only is it rare to make macro-changes to culture, but attempting to do so may upset your employer.
- Can you work with fellow pilots who have English as a second or third language? Communication for pilots is critical and U.S. pilots may take for granted that they work solely with pilots who communicate the same way they do. In other countries though, co-workers may speak many languages with English being very broken or limited. Learning to effectively communicate will take time and patience.
- Are your immunizations up to date? Diseases that are not present in the U.S. may be a risk factor when flying in other countries.
- Are you familiar with taxes and exchange rates? Pilots will have to pay taxes, but depending on how long they are working overseas, they may not have to pay taxes at home. Also, use caution if salary is to be paid in the work-host country. As exchange rates fluctuate, pilots may be getting a pay raise or pay cut depending on the direction of the currency as it relates to the U.S. dollar. One suggestion is to negotiate pay to be made in U.S. dollars as this will lend stability to personal finances. The bottom line is that pilots educate themselves on tax implications and exchange rates.
All TAS operations are two-pilot ops, which include a commander and a first officer. Planning and communications are the primary keys to successful operations in Thailand.
Days begin early at TAS and, interestingly, flight crews arriving for duty start the day with a blood-alcohol breathalyzer test. All passengers traveling on the helicopters are also tested for alcohol as well using the same protocol. Once crews are tested, they check the schedule to confirm the aircraft they will be flying and the customers who will be on board. They then head onto the flight line to perform a daily pre-flight check of the helicopter.
One hour prior to departure time, and following pre-flight checks, pilots report to a briefing room where they are briefed by dispatchers on items like passengers, flying routes, weight and balance, and weather. At approximately 15 minutes prior to departure, the pilots enter the cockpit and run the “before startup” checklist as passengers board. Once boarded, startup occurs and the day’s flying begins. Each base completes 10-16 flights per day to a variety of offshore platforms.
Putting business aside, TAS considers community engagement an equally important and socially responsible activity and is one of the core values of both the company and its employees. According to a company official, “Giving back to the communities in which we operate has always been a source of pride for us. While financial contributions to various community organizations and schools is an important part of who we are, personal involvement in activities that support the communities, and specifically the children of those communities, is what we find most rewarding.”
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