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Salus Aviation imports New Zealand’s largest helicopters - previously used by the Emperor of Japan

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Salus Aviation has recently purchased two of the largest helicopters operated in the commercial helicopter world. The AS332 – known as Super Pumas. They can have a takeoff weight of circa 8,600 kg’s, lift over 4,000kg’s and have an operating range of over 640km and can carry up to 24 people and 2 crew..


These particular aircraft have a very colourful history. “The aircraft were purchased by the Japan Government in around 1985 to ferry the Japanese Emperor, family and dignitaries across Japan. These Super Puma’s are configured with a first class compartment for 4 people and a rear-class compartment for seating up to 16” Said Don McCracken, Salus’ CEO.

The current Emperor is Akihito. He acceded to the Chrysanthemum Throne upon the death of his father, Emperor Shōwa (Hirohito), in 1989. Around 4 years after the aircraft were originally purchased. The Japanese government announced in December 2017 that Akihito will abdicate on 30 April 2019. It is possible that Emperor Akihito has spent many hours in the Salus aircraft during their operating tenure in Japan.

“We do not see this type of aircraft in New Zealand very often as their size and capability is not typical of aircraft operating here. Salus Aviation engineering staff can maintain and certify this class of aircraft in New Zealand”. Said Mr. McCracken

The aircraft will most likely be overhauled by Salus’ subsidiary, Oceania Aviation’s maintenance, repair and overhaul divisions and then set up for sale to an offshore buyer’s configuration depending on what use they are intended for. “In some cases we may find that a buyer simply wants to purchase the aircraft for use within an existing Supa Puma fleet or for parts”, said McCracken.

A new Supa Puma will cost around US15 million. The Salus team travelled to Japan and arranged for the preparation of the aircraft to be shipped to New Zealand. They were then loaded onto a large container ship for their journey to Auckland. Once landed at the Port of Auckland the aircraft were loaded onto speciality trucks and trailer units for their journey to Ardmore airport.

See video – “How to unload 2x Supa Puma in 15 seconds”