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Jumpseat On The MIL MI 8:MLA-GZM-MLA  
User currently offlineFLIEGER67 From France, joined Sep 2003, 5133 posts, RR: 55
Posted (9 years 9 months 3 weeks 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 3120 times:

The trip: Rumours said that KM/MaltaAirCharter cancel the Mil Mi 8 flights by the end of October and I´d like to fly the Mi 8 before the shutdown.

03.10.2004 MLA-GZM MaltaAirCharter Mil Mi 8 LZ-CAV owned and operated by HeliAirService of Bulgaria
KM 910 11.00-11.15 Flights ontime
Fare:64.-- EUR booked by START without any booking fee, return
Load factor:I am the one and only pax.


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I´ve booked a ticket MLA-GZM 12.30 and return GZM-MLA 14.00. I am early at the airport and I´d like to change to an other flight. After some experiences in such cases I dont go to the ticket desk, they always want money for changes. I go direct to the announced counter 25 for the 11 am flight to Gozo. Nobody was there. At the counter beneath waited a young male AirMalta employee for the last passengers on an Germania flight to STR.
I showed him my tix for the 12.30 flight and asked him if the GZM flight was closed. He said, no problem, I will check it by the system. He checked and answered: There are no passengers booked on these flight, if you want to change to this flight, go to the KM reservation desk, I call the agent there and they will change your reservation. OK, I do it, 2 minutes later I was back at the check in with my changed tix and the male checked me in. He said:
Please wait here, you are the only passenger, I call for a collegue who escort you direct to the bus. 5 minutes later another male KM employee arrived, guided my through security and directly to the bus. We crossed the apron and drive along the fence to the maintenance area from KM and beneath the LH Malta maintenance facility. Two Mil Mi 8s parked there, one with mechanics around, it was the first flight this day. I boarded the heli and was welcomed by a female FA. She showed me the security details for this flight and we chatted about the flight and what to expect. She said: Sit on the right side for the best views. I answered: Thank you, but I sit here in the first row, to check the pilots work. She asked me: Are you interested in that things?
I answered: Oh yes, more closer, more better, the jumpseat is the very best,
its possible to sit there?.
Guys, thats a sound as we started the engines. Very noisy.
The cabin was renovated to western standard, seating 2/2, small fabric seats IMO like in a military plane. We drive along the taxiway from the maintenance area to the runway and departed. After 2/3 minutes in flight, the captain gave me a sign, join the jumpseat!.
The crew was completely bulgarian, the two male pilots and the female FA, extremely friendly, the FO was the pilot flying. I chatted with the captain about the future of the eastern aircraft industrie and so on. Amazing all the instruments in kyrilic language and amazing views through the glass bottom cockpit. Short before landing I´ve gone back to my seat and had another nice chat with the FA, asked her if its enough time to change the reservation at Gozo heliport to fly directly back.
She answered, 13 passengers booked, normally no problem. We arrived, stoped the engines, I disembarked and said: Please occupie this seat for me, I will be back in some minutes. The friendly male agent at Gozo Heliport changed my reservation and...


03.10.2004 GZM-MLA MaltaAirCharter Mil Mi 8 LZ-CAV owned and operated by
HeliAirService of Bulgaria
KM 911 11.30-11.45 Flights ontime
Load factor 13 pax


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...I leave the small building, the FA waved me from the heli´s door, I waved back jumped in the heli and thinked: Sad, my seat was not free.
But there was another reason, the captain called me, join the jumpseat. Its nice to fly a guy who ist not angry that we operate with the russian helis and is real interested about the aviation industry.
I am in the cockpit for the whole pre-departure procedure, again an imagine sound as the engine started, the FO was again the pilot flying. The captain showed me the whole procedure included rotor angle corrections and so on.
He commenced my question that Malta cancelled the agreement with HeliAirService by the end of October forced by rules after Malta joined the EU earlier this year. They will charter some western helis from November and thinking about to built an airstrip at Gozo to operate with small commuter planes like the Beech 1900.
For the moment he dont know what happens after October, but HeliAirService operated some Antonov cargo planes for the UnitedNations in Africa and that was the simplest way to operate the Mil Mi 8 further, straight to Africa after 7 years without any incident at Malta. One of the Mil´s is in service, the other always used as backup.
Departure with low power, he said only 20 % of the available power needed to bring the heli in the sky included 13 passengers, crew and cargo.
We fly over the channel between Gozo and Malta and along the Maltese coastline, clear sky and exciting views along the whole flight. About 4 to 5 minutes before arrival we ended our discussion, the captain does the communication with the tower.
Exciting we approached like a normal plane and fly in about 5 meters height along the runway to our parking position at the maintenance area. The other pax left the heli, the pilots asked me about my opinion after this flights. Guys I am really impressed about that power. The bus driver honked amd waved, time to go for me. Shake hands with the extreme friendly pilots, they are really proud about their job, shake hands with the extreme friendly FA and entered the bus, followed by annoyed views from the other pax, whats this for a guy, flying on the jumpseat, chatted with the pilots and the FA?.
The bus started, the captain in front off his heli waved me good bye. The first time I thinked, what a pity that I had no digicam to upload the pix about this famous trip. The bus driver leave the airport area through a small door, drives around the corner and stopped at the normal bus stop in front off the terminal building ass all the arrivals are international and this is the only national route, so we dont need to go through passport control.

Conclusion: One of the best flying experiences in my aviation history, many thanx to the crew and I am really impressed about that russian build aircraft.

Critics and comments, also the small ones, always welcome,

Markus (FLIEGER67)


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14 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineAirsicknessbag From Germany, joined Aug 2000, 4723 posts, RR: 34
Reply 1, posted (9 years 9 months 3 weeks 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 2640 times:


Very nice report for a very nice flight. Interesting to see that the crew on this flight are so accomodating towards us freaks. Mfz reported the same attitude towards jumpseat rides in his report, a couple of weeks ago.

This is the fifth report for MLA-GZM - quite astounding for such a, well, obscure route.

>>>Its nice to fly a guy who ist not angry that we operate with the russian helis

Interesting to hear that apparently they get negative feedback. I mean, who cares about equipment on this, what, 15-minute-hop?

>>>that was the simplest way to operate the Mil Mi 8 further, straight to Africa after 7 years without any incident at Malta.

I believe they lost one in the Maldives a couple of years ago.

>>>They will charter some western helis from November and thinking about to built an airstrip at Gozo to operate with small commuter planes like the Beech 1900.

Western helis? Pardon my ignorance when it comes to helicopters, but which Western models would be appropriate, seating 23?

Also, a fixed wing service would be absolute overkill, imho. I agree there must be air service to Gozo because the bus/ferry/bus connexion is so arduous and time consuming, but having a fixed wing do 30 hops of five minutes each, on a daily basis? Come on, if there´s one perfect heli route in the world, it´s this one.

Daniel Smile




User currently offlineFLIEGER67 From France, joined Sep 2003, 5133 posts, RR: 55
Reply 2, posted (9 years 9 months 3 weeks 2 days 14 hours ago) and read 2440 times:

Hi Daniel,
thanx for your reply.
IMO most of the travellers dont realize that it is russian equipment, but I think they had some negative comments especially about the noisy volume.
The right text will be: Some smaller western helis, I am not really well informed in the heli scene, but I think your right about the possibility at
a western heli in this category.
Your right, and the crew was not lucky about the cancellation.
Best regards,
Markus (FLIEGER67)



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User currently offlinePzurita1 From Greenland, joined Sep 2002, 1392 posts, RR: 14
Reply 3, posted (9 years 9 months 3 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 2384 times:

Markus,

Thank you for your detailed report. I always look for bizarre and oscure routes using rare equipment.

If they are to use western helis instead of this Russian marvel, may be they are thinking in a Sikorsky (S61 seats 26 pax). May be even a smaller helicopter will fit OK as they are also thinking in Beechcraft 1900 once the runways is build.

After reading all trip reports of this MLA-GZM, I find that load factor are mostly low. Hence a smaller helicopter, may be.

PZ



Next flight: IAH-DBX-MRU-ANT
User currently offlineFLIEGER67 From France, joined Sep 2003, 5133 posts, RR: 55
Reply 4, posted (9 years 9 months 3 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 2379 times:

Hi Pzurita1,
thanx for your reply.
Sundays and Thursdays are the busiest days on the route, the captain said,
with AFAIK 7 roundtrips the last sunday. They had a list in the cockpit with the booked pax, the best loadfactor was my return with 13 passengers,
the other flights 6,9,10 pax. And about the Sikorsky, big question mark.
Greetings,
Markus (FLIEGER67)



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User currently offlineTriStar500 From Germany, joined Nov 1999, 4693 posts, RR: 43
Reply 5, posted (9 years 9 months 3 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 2314 times:

Hi Markus!
I have finally found some time to read the Mi-8 report you promised, and I must say that it was really worth to do it!  Big thumbs up You are one really lucky guy, because you got to jumpseat on what is most likely one of the last Mi-8 operations in the EU! It is also nice to hear that sometimes "geekiness" gets rewarded.  Big grin

I cannot understand, how people would complain about the equipment on such a short flight. But then again, when I read the "knowledgeable comments" of some (not all) predominantly American teenagers on this very website regarding "Russian aircraft are all crap. If it isn't Boeing I ain't going.", it seems like the lowest common denominator (even intellectually) usually wins.  Insane Which is a pity for us aviation freaks, who should be happy to get on such exotic equipment, and really unfair to the designers of such fine, robust machines like the Mi-8.



Homer: Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!
User currently offlineRyan h From Australia, joined Aug 2001, 1531 posts, RR: 1
Reply 6, posted (9 years 9 months 3 weeks ago) and read 2307 times:

Very interesting report.

Reminds me of my flight to kangaroo island. I only went because the flights were dirt cheap.


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User currently offlineNdebele From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 2899 posts, RR: 23
Reply 7, posted (9 years 9 months 2 weeks 6 days 19 hours ago) and read 2304 times:

Hi Markus,

thanks for this interesting report - I didn't know that they're forced by the EU to discontinue the MI 8 flights because of noise restrictions, at least it's just a domestic flight, so I thought it's up to the local government. Didn't Olympic also use non-hushkit B737-200s on domestic Greek flights until early 2003?

Anyway, regarding the load factors: Maybe a smaller helicopter is indeed a better equipment. A Beech 1900 on this route sounds like a joke to me, but they certainly know what they're doing. Are there plans to start flights from Gozo to other airports than MLA, maybe Sicily?

So this is the fifth report about Malta Air Charter here on a.net, and for the fifth time I regret that I have to reply that I took the ferry  Sad Was this your first visit to Gozo? A nice little island, why not spending a few hours there next time?

Regards, Alex.


User currently offlineTriStar500 From Germany, joined Nov 1999, 4693 posts, RR: 43
Reply 8, posted (9 years 9 months 2 weeks 6 days 18 hours ago) and read 2284 times:

Just one more comment RE: short inter-island hops with fixed wing aircraft. IMO this could work out just as fine - remember that this is a concept, which has been tried and proven at the German North Sea Islands for decades. OLT is flying with small 6-10 seat equipment on multiple frequences daily between the islands and coastal towns and there is no sign that this service would be discontinued.


Homer: Facts are meaningless. You could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!
User currently offlineContact Air From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 1154 posts, RR: 14
Reply 9, posted (9 years 9 months 2 weeks 6 days 16 hours ago) and read 2278 times:

Hi Markus,

nice report of an extraordinary trip - thanks for posting it!

I did the same trip back in October 2002, and I also enjoyed it a lot. Unfortunately, I didn't ask for the jumpseat (in fact I had no idea that there is one on a heli...) Really sad that the Mi-8 will soon disappear from that route. I think that from a passenger's point of view (and not only an A-netter) it is not the worst equipment compared to other (smaller) helis as the Mi-8 cabin is very spacious and offers much more room than a traditional heli.

Christoph



User currently offlineFLIEGER67 From France, joined Sep 2003, 5133 posts, RR: 55
Reply 10, posted (9 years 9 months 2 weeks 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 2274 times:

Thanx all for your replys,
Jens:Your right, its like 10 people around the table at a discussion about the permanent bad wheather in Ireland, but if you ask the final question how much of the 10 stay anytime in Ireland,my had jumps up, if I wear one, nobody was even there, thats the same like the bad opinions about the russian built AC. IMO fixed wing service like your second reply is not impossible.
Ryan: That reminds me about my trip to Kangaroo island back in 1998 on a Saab 340 of now defunct Kendell Airlines.
Alex:The noise is not the only problem, they operate with only 3 pilots, thats not compatible with EU regulations, more pilots, to expensive. Other western helis,
smaller equipment is based at MLA, more short-time pilots available.
I dont read anything about final decisions, airstrip or western helis, lets see whats going on. And about the ferry, I like it to go by ferry, but if its ever possible to fly the same route, no question, I go flying. I was only 2 nights at MLA, not much enough for MLA, another time, maybe.
Christoph:The jumpseat is a folding seat fixed on the left side, direct in the aisle behind the captains seat. I had no comparison but thats my first heli trip ever.
Best regards,
Markus (FLIEGER67)



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User currently offlineSabena332 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (9 years 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 2234 times:

Very entertaining report, I am glad that you had such a friendly crew! Jumpseat flights are something special nowadays so it is always good to see that it is possible on some airlines.

By the way, last Friday I experienced by myself that it is still possible to get a jumpseat flight on a German airline on a flight within Germany (rule book out of the window ).

Patrick


User currently offlineFLIEGER67 From France, joined Sep 2003, 5133 posts, RR: 55
Reply 12, posted (9 years 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 2210 times:

Hi Patrick,
thanx for your reply.
No joke, jumpseat on a german airline within germany?, your a lucky guy.
Best regards,
Markus (FLIEGER67)



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User currently offlineSabena332 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 13, posted (9 years 9 months 2 weeks 5 days 11 hours ago) and read 2199 times:

Hi Markus,

no, it is of course not a joke, we had luck to get the jumpseat (well, actually a little bit more than luck because you won't get a jumpseat on German airlines with luck only anymore Big grin) but later we also got scared for a minute when we arrived at our destination airport, for some reasons there where too many "green guys" standing in the jetbridge waiting for "our" plane, fortunately it had nothing to do with our "very evil and highly illegal" jumpseat ride.

Patrick

By the way, all of us dedicated the flight to minister Schily who introduced this stupid and paranoid non-jumpseat-law  Laugh out loud.


User currently offlineFLIEGER67 From France, joined Sep 2003, 5133 posts, RR: 55
Reply 14, posted (9 years 9 months 2 weeks 4 days 16 hours ago) and read 2178 times:

Hi Patrick,
your really lucky. One of my fellows goes with LH, another with LTU, both as FO´s and both told me, jumpseat riding is impossible since 09.11. because I am not an airline employee. IMO you have very good connections to do this.
Greetings,
Markus (FLIEGER67)



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