As such, the Authority conducted a physical testing of the marine helicopter operation from 28 September to 5 October at the port using a helicopter that services the Port of Durban. The test showed that the use helicopters to transfer marine pilots is a viable service for the Port.
During a forum in Cape Town earlier in 2018, TNPA COO Nozipho Mdawe informed that the process of the feasibility study would include TNPA engaging with major customers to establish their level of interest and to test whether the service cost would be acceptable.
She added that TNPA is still debating whether the service should be shared between the Western Cape ports or would be dedicated to one port. The first option involves stationing one of the existing TNPA helicopters in Cape Town to service the Western Cape ports, while the second requires partnership with a private helicopter company to render the service when swell conditions dictate.
TNPA's existing fleet includes three AgustaWestland (AW 109) helicopters for the ports of Durban and Richards Bay, but under its Fleet Replacement Programme, it has ordered two new helicopters expected by June 2019.