The Straits Times (ST) reported today (12 Apr) that the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) Super Puma helicopter is now being retired and will progressively be replaced by the newer Airbus H225M medium lift helicopter, the first of which recently arrived in Singapore.
The Super Puma has been with the RSAF for more than three decades. Over the years, its capabilities were upgraded and added. Still, it has come a time when it is now being replaced.
The new H225M helicopter is said to have a range longer by about 20 per cent. It can also operate in confined environments and allows for a simpler maintenance regime, with less manpower support needed.
Reminiscing over the old Super Puma, Sembawang GRC Member of Parliament Poh Li San, 45, told ST that safety has improved tremendously over the years since the Super Puma was commissioned in 1985.
Ms Poh is an SAF scholar and RSAF’s second female helicopter pilot, who flew the Super Puma for a decade. She was selected by the PAP to stand in the last GE in 2020 as its candidate in Sembawang GRC.
Ms Poh explained to the media that the Super Puma was chosen to replace the UH-1H Huey lightweight utility helicopter in the 80s.
“The UH from the Vietnam War era was very much more basic, with more limited lift capabilities. The Super Puma that came later in the 1980s was a lot more high performance and multi-role capable,” she said.
“It’s quite amazing how we were able to stretch the life of the Super Puma until now. The aircraft might still even be able to go on, just that it might be less cost effective and has a shorter range than the H225M.”
MP Poh’s vision: To run ultra-marathon in world’s most remote and beautiful places
According to a MINDEF article about her some years ago when she was still with the RSAF, MINDEF said that Ms Poh’s greatest passions in life are “adventure travelling and running marathons” (‘Ex-RSAF helicopter pilot Poh Li San: I seize whatever opportunities that come my way‘).
MINDEF also revealed that her vision is to “run an ultra-marathon in the world’s most remote but pristinely beautiful Mongolian steppes or the Tibetan highlands”.
In an interview with the media, she described her own career as an “unusual” one. She said she had seized whatever opportunities that came her way, and encouraged other women to do the same.
In support of Manpower Minister Josephine Teo’s call for more women to join politics, Ms Poh said, “It is a great call and a great way to get women to step forward and contribute to the community and country… because it will be more powerful to work as a team of women leaders.”
According to her LinkedIn information, she is currently the Vice President of Changi Airport Group, in charge of T5 planning of its future systems, in addition to being a PAP MP.