Helicopter Co Leads Way With $3.5 Mil Aircraft
Media Release from Over The Top – the helicopter
Wednesday November 22 2006
Pioneering Helicopter Company ‘Quietly Leads the Way’ With Launch of $3.5 Million Aircraft
Queenstown’s Over The Top helicopter company has invested $3.5million in a state-of-the-art environmentally friendly helicopter.
Over The Top founder Louisa (Choppy) Patterson was handed the keys of the Eurocopter B4 in Auckland on Wednesday (Nov 15), becoming the first tourism operator in New Zealand to purchase this high performance craft.
There is a two-year waiting list for the Eurocopter, which was made to order in the South of France before being delivered to New Zealand, customised and certified here. It is one of only ten in the country, the others all being privately owned.
The new Eurocopter offers the very latest safety and navigation equipment and is extremely environmentally friendly in part due to a fully enclosed tail rotor system which results in a substantially quieter than usual operation.
It cruises at 235kmph, delivering up to six passengers in complete comfort and style. It is specifically designed for passenger comfort, with ergonomically designed seats. There are two seats alongside the pilot, and four seats in the rear of the cabin that are raised for enhanced viewing.
Over The Top director Ms Patterson said passenger comfort, safety and noise reduction were all factors in choosing the Eurocopter B4.
“With the six individual seats we can now take six
The current helicopters available in Queenstown, including our Squirrel, are configured so two people share a front bench seat and this has always had a weight limitation.
“The new machine has also been adopted worldwide by the aviation fraternity as the quietest helicopter available on the market. That’s of great importance to our company as we fly over and into some of the most environmentally sensitive areas in New Zealand,” she said.
“The Department of Conservation has been advocating the operation of this type of helicopter within our national parks, so we’re delighted to be able to say that we’re quietly leading the way.”
DoC Community Relations Manager Martin Rodd congratulated Over The Top for taking what he called a “significant step”.
“Aircraft provide an outstanding opportunity for visitors to gain an appreciation of the spectacular natural landscapes and remoteness of Fiordland National Park and its adjoining lands,” he said.
“Managing the effects of aircraft noise on other park users, like those tramping the Milford Track or exploring its wilderness areas, is the challenge. With aircraft like Over The Top’s new EC130B4 it is a win/win for the visitors on the ground as well as those flying in the comfort and safety of the aircraft.”
Francois Arnaud, Civil Aircraft Vice President for Australian Aerospace Ltd, the Eurocopter subsidiary for Australia and New Zealand, agreed with Mr Rodd’s comments.
“The EC130B4 is truly the quietest helicopter in its class and with its spacious cabin style and expanded canopy is the ideal aircraft for tourism operations. With systems such as the dual channel FADEC (full authority digital engine control) and dual hydraulic system, it also provides a very high level of safety for its passengers.”
Ms Patterson started Over The Top in 1986 and said the purchase of the Eurocopter was a large investment in New Zealand tourism in line with the company’s business growth and development.
“I’ve always endeavoured to ensure we have the right product to meet the evolving demands of New Zealand tourism clients,” she said.
Latest New Zealand Tourism Ministry statistics show that the proportion of visitors spending over $5,000 per visit has risen from 7% to11% in the past eight years, with average spend increasing to just over $3,000 in 2006.
“In the twenty years I have been involved in the luxury sector there has been increasing expectation as to quality and content of the product,” said Ms Patterson. “Now we are able to deliver the very latest aircraft which when coupled with our current excursions and access to Fiordland National Park makes our Over The Top service comparable with the best luxury expeditions available in the world.”