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An Antigua-based helicopter firm has been called on to lend assistance to scientists monitoring St Vincent’s active volcano, La Soufriere.

The Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA) selected CalvinAir Helicopters (CAH) to help as University of the West Indies’ scientists analyse data to present to St Vincent and the Grenadines’ government.

Helicopter services will be provided initially for a week, and then on an ‘as needed’ basis.

CAH’s Director of Aviation, Mark Fleming, said the decision was made after considering several other regional helicopter operations.

“One of the requirements was to secure pilots with extensive mountainous terrain flying, as the peak is over 4,000 feet. So it can be quite challenging with the strong winds at that altitude,” he said.

“Additionally, CalvinAir Helicopter pilots actually have extensive experience with flying for the Montserrat Volcano Observatory (MVO) with a scientist there.

“So we will be doing very similar flying on this mission; conducting observation flights around the dome; transporting equipment and supplies to monitoring sites; transporting the seismic research scientists and trying to find safe landing spots, where they will be able to set up and maintain their remote monitoring stations to analyse data.”

CAH conducts tours and charters around Antigua and Barbuda and surrounding islands. It also carries out humanitarian work such as Medevac flights, and search and rescue and emergency missions.

It is headquartered at VC Bird International Airport and has two heliports, in Fort Road and Valley Road, outside Jolly Harbour.