ECUADOR - Transport
General Manager, Avioandes
Ecuador’s booming mining and tourism sectors offer many opportunities for helicopter services, which can do more than just ferrying people.
What is the background of the company?
PABLO OCHOA Avioandes has been in the market for over 14 years, supporting air operations for strategic sectors with helicopters and planes. Our main market has been the strategic sectors of oil, mining, and tourism. Our intention has always been to provide all players in these sectors with fresh alternatives, especially Ecuador-based alternatives, to develop their projects. We started with an integrated management system and three ISO certifications as a benchmark. Then we obtained international certifications such as BARS, and IS-BAO, which we have held for about six years in a row. Our participation in the market has been well-received and has allowed us to continue in the business.
GUSTAVO JUNOVICH Ecocopter has almost 20 years of experience combined in Chile, Peru, and Ecuador. We have been in Ecuador for three years now. We work with the mining sector to transport passengers and cargo, and we also carry out geophysical surveys. We install equipment in helicopters to enable it to X-ray the ground to determine where and what minerals are present in the region. One important aspect is aero-medical evacuation, which is either for the mining company’s own staff or from the oil sector. We conduct four or five aero-medical evacuations every two or three weeks. Beyond this, the services that we are able to provide are always to the highest possible safety standards. We have passed the Basic Aviation Risk Standards (BARS) audit, the gold standard in engineering issues and operational safety.
How has the growing importance of the mining sector affected Avioandes?
PO Currently, mining is the highest producer and consumer of services locally within the different strategic sectors. In 2022, companies are already beginning to execute their projects to the point that Avioandes is committed to several companies whose projects are already underway. Today, we are operating at 60-70% of our total capacity, and we will operate at at least 90% of our total capacity by the end of the year. Our expansion plans include acquiring large-capacity aircraft with the capacity to transport 11 tons, and a second helicopter with the capacity to transport 4.5 tons. We can cover whichever needs an oil or mining company doing business here may have with our current fleet. Furthermore, we are also considering double-engine helicopters for IFR operations. These additions would bring extra muscle toward meeting the needs of the industries we serve and those we will serve in the future.
How do Ecocopter’s powerline inspection drones provide solutions to different sectors?
GJ The companies that the drones are aimed at are in strategic sectors such as mining, oil, gas, and construction, as well as insurance companies. For the latter, we fly drones over a construction site, for example, to check that everyone is wearing helmets, reflective jackets, and so on. The drone looks at these details, and, with AI, it can send an alert if someone is not wearing their helmet or so on. We have also merged with another company called Automap, which is a mapping company. For example, it can create a map of a dam, and develop simulations of possible accidents, and how the dam could affect nearby cities or forests, as far as the water can reach. Also we do Powerline inspections and more with a single drone.
How do you plan to support the tourism industry in Ecuador going forward?
PO For about six years, Avioandes has been offering a service that falls under tourism, namely, the Tour of the Volcanoes of the Andean Mountain Range by helicopter. We can visit three or four volcanoes in a 40-50 minute flights, which is impressive. Ecuador has immense tourism potential, which is why we are also working toward supporting our airplanes. We also use them in conjunction with tour operators to offer travel packages towards this reactivation of the tourism sector coming up worldwide. As for predictions for this year and 2023, we are renewing and adding aircraft to our fleet, which will allow us to be an alternative for all these companies.
GJ We would love to capitalize on the booming tourism sector with helicopter rides, and there have been many requests for this. However, in Quito, for example, there is no helicopter landing pad. This is one of the things that is missing in Quito and needs to be improved. However, we are more focused on our long-term vision. We want to be a reference in the industry. We are on the right path, improving things as we go, while ideas continue to come in, and they are always getting better.
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