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Cargo helicopter delivering goods in a sling against moody skies

Aircraft that save lives


Sometimes help comes from the skies. ACS has a proud history of providing humanitarian aid in situations where conflict, crises or natural disasters threaten human lives. From Haiti to Yemen, and Zimbabwe to the Philippines, ACS aircraft have provided emergency assistance where and when it was needed most.

Evacuating at-risk civilians, delivering critical supplies and supporting search and rescue teams can be all in a day’s work for ACS teams. On-call 365 days of the year, the experienced emergency teams can coordinate the speedy evacuation of casualties and those placed at risk in dangerous situations such as war zones. When disaster strikes, ACS charters can airlift vital search and rescue teams to join humanitarian efforts on the ground and deliver critical supplies from specialist equipment and medical supplies or food, drink and blankets.

Local knowledge on a global scale and access to over 50,000 aircraft means ACS emergency teams can quickly source the best option for each specialist emergency scenario.

Here are some of the stories about ACS emergency projects and charters that made a real difference.

A helping hand in Haiti

In October 2016, Hurricane Matthew struck Haiti, leaving at least 1,300 people dead and more than 35,000 homeless. The first ACS charter to the country was a passenger aircraft, carrying teams to assess the situation, coordinate the humanitarian effort on the ground and help in the distribution of the relief shipments. Next, a cargo aircraft was sent from Europe carrying a variety of aid equipment, including medicine, mosquito nets, and tarpaulins, as well as jerry cans and buckets for clean water.

The ACS team already had a wealth of experience in the region, arranging close to 100 charter movements in and out of the capital Port Au Prince after an earthquake in 2010.

Hurricane relief in the Caribbean

Red Cross flag blowing in the wind on a sunny day
Red Cross flag blowing in the wind on a sunny day

August to October is peak hurricane season in the Caribbean and some of the southern states in the US. This is when an aircraft charter specialist like ACS plays a valuable role, transporting both passengers and cargo to and from the affected areas.

ACS teams were already arranging charters in the grim aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Texas when Hurricanes Irma and Maria left a path of destruction across the Atlantic Basin. Within the next four weeks ACS aircraft would carry almost 3,000 tonnes of humanitarian cargo – most of it being relief goods such as shelter kits, water bottles and ration packs for the people left homeless on islands such as Barbados and Puerto Rico.

ACS staff were also on the ground in San Juan helping to coordinate the aircraft movements so that aid would reach those in need as quickly as possible.

Charters were arranged for various American specialist freight forwarders, including an Antonov 124 aircraft carrying a helicopter. The helicopter was used to distribute aid more effectively as many of the airports in the area were badly damaged and unable to accept fixed-wing aircraft.

Carrying aid to Yemen

In 2015, ACS arranged the first civilian cargo flight to Yemen, where the ongoing conflict had already killed nearly 4,000 people and displaced 1.3 million. Civilian cargo flights carrying much-needed humanitarian aid had not been allowed into the temporary capital city of Aden for months, but on 19 August of that year, ACS arranged for an IL-76 aircraft to carry 35 tonnes of aid – consisting of food and medical supplies – into Aden.

With over 50 hospitals and health facilities already destroyed during the conflict, this aid was desperately needed in a country where every single family has been affected by the crisis.

A decade of making a difference

In 2008 ACS responded to a call from a Spanish-based relief agency to carry 10 tonnes of water purification equipment, medical kits, tents, blankets and mosquito nets from Madrid to Bolivia where a flood caused by a climatic phenomenon known as La Niña had devastated several parts of the country.

In the same year, ACS operated 37 cargo flights – using a range of cargo aircraft that included A300s, DCBs and – IL-76s – to carry food, tents, blankets, mosquito nets, and even flat-bottomed boats with outboard engines to flood-hit Burma and Southeast Asia.

Also, in 2008, ACS used two Ilyushin 76 aircraft to carry 88 tonnes of emergency aid to Goma in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where conflict had caused 250,000 people to flee their homes.

When Typhoon Fengshen hit the Philippines in June of 2008, ACS was on hand to carry 31,000 kg of cargo from Pisa in Italy to the more than 3,000 families left homeless by the catastrophe.

A cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe in 2009 put enormous strain on a country already struggling with hyperinflation and dwindling medical resources. ACS worked alongside a Spanish relief agency, chartering an IL-76 aircraft to carry 17 tonnes of cargo (including all-terrain vehicles) to help relieve the tens of thousands affected by the epidemic.

In 2011 the Libyan Civil War drew ACS into one of the largest and most complex evacuation operations its teams had ever faced. Over 4,500 passengers were evacuated as the country was wracked by civil unrest.

Floods hit Mozambique in 2013, leaving thousands of people homeless as severe downpours battered the country and swollen rivers burst their banks. ACS chartered a Boeing B747-400 from Nairobi to Maputo less than 15 hours after the charity Save the Children gave the go-ahead.

An earthquake in Nepal in 2015 saw ACS emergency aircraft flying in aid on a variety of aircraft including Antonov-12s, and Airbus A310s and A330s. After a second quake hit, an ACS team member slept in a hotel lobby for four nights, getting permits and coordinating aid charters.

Emergency response and air ambulance flights often mean the difference between life and death in times of natural disaster or conflict. Whether you’re looking to transport goods, personnel or join a global relief effort, make sure you contact ACS.

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