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Safety paramount for diverse company

Tom O'Leary Nov 11
Safety paramount for diverse company

Safety, transparency and good customer service are the key attributes that defi ne Otago operator Highland Helicopters Ltd.

Established 18 months ago by experienced helicopter pilot Paul Williams and his wife Kirsty, the company provides passenger transport, agricultural services, commercial services and private and commercial helicopter pilot training.

Located on the north entrance of Dukes Road at Taieri Airfield, Highland Helicopters’ reach covers a good part of the Otago region.

Obtaining his commercial pilot licence in 2001, Paul has amassed about 5000 flying hours both in New Zealand and Papua New Guinea. About half of Paul’s flight time has been related to the agricultural sector.

Paul’s extensive experience includes agricultural spraying, bucket work, fire fighting, frost protection, long-line external load precision placement, high altitude operations and passenger transport.

“I worked for 10 years locally in Otago before heading to Papua New Guinea and flying for Hevilift for almost three years,” says Paul.

“My work in Papua New Guinea included longline positioning of drill rigs and base supplies, along with air transport services, medivacs and armed pay runs.

“Returning to New Zealand I worked for Central South Island Helicopters for 2 years before Kirsty and I set up Highland Helicopters.”

A qualified mechanic by trade, Paul raced motorbikes professionally at the Isle of Man TT Races for six years before putting his prize money to good use, funding his commercial pilot licence. “I won the 400cc class in ‘98 and ‘99 and in 2000 I started in the No 1 position in the 125 and 250cc races that year.

“I couldn’t have had a more blunt career for active risk assessment and management than racing motorcycles at the Isle of Man. You couldn’t think that you were better than you were because you could come unstuck.”

Always safety conscious, Highland Helicopters has invested in a Guimbal Cabri G2 helicopter for training purposes.

“It’s a new generation helicopter with fantastic safety features,” explains Paul.

“The Cabri G2 is also well suited for survey, photography and pest control.” For agricultural work Paul uses a Bell 206L-1 LongRanger helicopter.

Safety paramount for diverse company

The range of services offered by Highland Helicopters includes passenger transport, agricultural, commercial and helicopter pilot training.


This helicopter can seat 6 passengers on air transport services and is fitted with Bose noise cancelling headsets for the clients’ comfort and added hearing protection.

The LongRanger is fitted with TrackMap GPS technology, allowing highly accurate application of both solid and liquid products.

“Clients can log onto TrackMap On-line and plot out the area they want treated. I can upload this onto the GPS, do the job and then email the client the completed work so they can see total proof of placement.”

To be more efficient, Highland Helicopters has developed its own spray system for the LongRanger and uses a spreader bucket designed and built locally by Red1 Fabrication.

“We use TracPlus RockAIR units to flight follow our helicopters,” says Paul.

“We’re not reinventing the wheel, we’re just trying to make the wheel safer and more efficient.”

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