Helicopters on the Rise: Development of Air Taxi Industry in Turkey
Developments in civil aviation in Turkey are accelerating year on year. New investment, new projects and an expansion in the volume of trade have led to increases in the number of airports, the number of passengers and the available means of air transportation. According to the 2012 activity report issued by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, air transportation has increased by 20% over the last 10 years.
In addition, the number of licensed heliports in Turkey has increased – from 44 in 2011 to 54 in 2012. This trend is expected to continue in years to come – following the 2008 introduction of the directorate general project entitled "One Heliport for Each Skyscraper", many high-rise and residential developments are now required to include a heliport.
A 'heliport' is defined by Article 4-k of the Regulation on the Construction and Operation of Heliports (SHY-14B) as an area used for the secured departure and landing of helicopters.
Before a heliport can be built, a construction license and an operation license must be obtained from the directorate general (Article 5). The application process for these licenses is regulated by Articles 20 to 24 of the regulation. The directorate general will decide on the issuance of construction licenses, taking into account the opinion of related municipalities and military institutions. This review process will last for approximately 30 days following submission of the application. Operation licenses are issued according to a similar process.
Helicopters and air taxis are becoming the favored method of transportation for businesspeople working in large cities. In addition, air taxis are used in the healthcare industry as air ambulances, for tourist group visits and for tours.
The recent increase in helicopter numbers in Turkey has increased demand for heliports. According to the data issued by the directorate general, as of January 7 2013 there were 54 air taxi operators and 208 aircraft in Turkey. The 2009 introduction of the Project of Ambulance Helicopters by the directorate general has also been a contributory factor.
Air transportation operators are governed by the Regulation on Commercial Air Transportation Operators (SHY6A), which sets out the conditions and general terms for aircraft operation in Turkey. Companies that intend to operate an aircraft company must fulfil the conditions stated in the regulation.
Under the regulation, companies must submit their articles of association to the directorate general and register their trademarks (Article 5). Those operating aircrafts with a capacity of at least 20 passengers must be joint stock companies (Articles 6 and 7). In addition, such companies' field of activity is limited to aviation, or activities related to aviation.
Those intending to operate air taxis with a capacity of up to 19 passengers must be authorized by the directorate general (Article 16) and at least one aircraft must be registered with the Civil Aircraft Registry. Air taxi operators of aircraft with a capacity of between 20 and 99 passengers must be authorized by the Ministry of Transport and at least two aircraft must be registered with the Civil Aircraft Registry.
The operation license process is regulated by Articles 26 and following of the regulation. The license application must be made to the directorate general (Article 35), as follows:
- Prior authorization must be obtained from the directorate general, which is valid for six months.
- Compliance documents must be submitted to the directorate general for inspection.
- The license will be issued by the directorate general and the issuance decision confirmed by the Ministry for Transport.
Operation licenses are issued for one year and may be extended for three years.
The projects recently implemented by the directorate general aim to encourage the development of the aviation industry and increase investment. Developments in air transportation, including the increase in air ambulances, heliports and air taxis, will play an essential role in boosting tourism and activity within the healthcare industry. Such methods of transportation are also preferred by businesspeople and investors in Turkey, due to their many inherent advantages (security and speed).