Islanders on St Helena starved of information for more than six months concerning the fate of air access, saw despair brushed aside by the heroic, entrepreneurial spirit of Atlantic Star’s commercial airline ambition, when they coolly landed an AVRO RJ100 jet plane at the island’s much maligned airport.
The four-engine, British made aircraft designed for short take-off and landing operations completed the 700 mile, two hour flight from Ascension Island, landing first time on runway 02, the southern approach with a tail wind of approx 6 knots. The flight is actually being operated by Tronos Aviation Leasing. From the perspective of an untrained eye the landing looked as smooth as you could wish for, confirmed later by Atlantic Star Director, Richard Brown.
“It was pretty straight forward actually. We got visual of the island about 10-15 miles out. …then we had the opportunity to remain over the sea and we could just fly straight round onto the final for runway 02 and it was fine. Nothing much really to say about it.”
In terms of a service schedule, Atlantic Star’s initial proposal is to establish a twice weekly shuttle flight to Ascension Island, carrying approximately 50 of the Avro’s 100 passenger capacity. This reduced number allows good safe margins landing at St Helena in tail winds up to 15 knots. The idea is for connections to be made with the RAF passenger flights to the UK.
This is just a starting point; there would be plenty of scope to then develop the service with more frequent flights and also acquiring a second, modified aircraft for longer range links to both Cape Town and Johannesburg. Increased flights mean more efficient use of the aircraft.
The aircraft would be based on St Helena and therefore available as a 24/7 medevac option if required.