Tom Cruise and Father Christmas cross makes ideal helicopter pilot


A superyacht helicopter pilot must have the combined talents of Tom Cruise as Maverick in Top Gun and Old Nick himself, Father Christmas, according to an expert panel at the inaugural Superyacht Investor London event.

Nigel Watson, chief executive of helicopter company Luviair, said: “A mixture of the maverick [attitude of] Tom Cruise in Top Gun and the age and experience of Father Christmas makes an ideal superyacht helicopter pilot.”

However, he would rather not hire that particular pilot full-time and said there was a need for pilots who were more amenable to flexible hours, he said: “Pilots are expensive. I’d prefer not to have a permanent pilot.”

The panel agreed that owners had to become more flexible on the citing of helicopter platforms on their superyachts for simple issues of safety and that there had to be a trade off between helicopter companies and yacht owners: “Where are you going to want your nice glass of something [on a yacht]? Probably where we want to land.”

There must also be an insistence that there is at least a 12-metre exclusion zone around the helicopter pad.

Helicopter pilot Captain Alain Viard, who also sat on the panel, said: “Any time there is an obstacle at sometime, something will go into that obstacle.”

The potential for clients to insist on unreasonable design demands over safety was borne out by an audience vote during the session when in a poll 53% of audience delegates said that the helicopter capability of a superyacht was “almost never” discussed at the early stage of its design.

Watson said that the advice he gives to superyacht owners on helipad safety was: “You may find I’ll disappoint you, but I will save your life. And if it’s not you I can assure you that it may be your wife or your children in that helicopter if something happens.”



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