A STORY OF EXCELLENCE
The history of our company comes from the dream of a young and enterprising pilot living in Ossola Valley but of Grisons origins, driven by a great passion for flying.
In 1967 Gian Paolo Giana, just twenty years old, became an airplane pilot in the Swiss Confederation and having the dream of following in the footsteps of the pilot rescuer of the glaciers Herman Geiger and of the Swiss rescue company from Geiger co-founded in 1965 in Sion, he gave life to an ambitious project: to bring an air-rescue and civil protection service to the Italian side of the Alpine chain.
The Italian reality was, however, then distant from that of the nearby Canton of Valais and the use of airplanes between the Ossola peaks had never yet been attempted; as for the helicopter, it was an almost unknown vehicle
After a slow start and a period of flight activity with aircraft between Malpensa, Ascona and Lugano airports, in 1970, at the age of 23, Gian Paolo Giana reached a preliminary agreement with the aircraft manufacturer PILATUS, to the availability of a Pilatus Porter to be used in Civil Protection.
An Italian-Swiss demonstration meeting was organized at Domodossola, with the participation of the then Senator Del Ponte, the President of the Upper Valley Morelli Council, the Mayors of the Ossola Municipalities and Swiss speakers, including Captain Monzeglio del Air Fire Service of the Canton of Ticino and the Director of Locarno-Magadino C.te Marazza Airport, Gian Paolo Giana obtains from the Province of Novara the authorization to build an airfield on the Domodossola plain, now known as Airfield of Masera.
After the first experiences with airplanes on the newborn airfield in Masera, in 1972 Gian Paolo Giana saw the need for a more versatile and suitable vehicle to reach all the valleys and peaks of Ossola. Thus was born the activity with helicopters.
The first were the Agusta-Bell 206B JetRanger hired from the company Costruzioni Aeronautiche AGUSTA, at the same time the purchase of a Silvercraft SH-4, soon replaced by a HUGHES 369HS, an H500D and, for educational activities, of a H269C.
The activities of Civil Protection and Air Rescue began to take hold in Italy too, although the Ossola area was then the only reality in the civil field on the entire national territory.
At the same time, the population, initially skeptical of using the helicopter for mountain construction and refueling works in unforeseen areas, gradually appreciated more and more the help brought by these new means of work, previously unknown.
In August 1978, during the flood that devastated Ossola and caused several deaths and numerous injuries, the Giana helicopter was the first, and then only, civil helicopter in Italy to operate in air rescue and med-evac in the context of a natural disaster.
The Giana helicopter operated continuously from dawn to well beyond the sunset, every day for weeks, providing first aid to the population and continuing in the following weeks with the supply of food in the valleys which were isolated by the numerous landslides.
The events of the summer of 1978 spurred local administrations to set up a real air ambulance service, which was available to the population on an ongoing basis.
Thus, 1980 saw the birth of the first ambulance service in Italy, thanks to an agreement between GIANA HELICOPTER and Ossola Municipalities, Province of Novara and Hospitals of Domodossola / Novara / Verbania. Agreement that lasted until the establishment of the ACI-Helicopter rescue service (now 118-Helicopter rescue).
Meanwhile, construction and passenger and freight flying activities continued and the demand for air transport, especially in the mountains, increased rapidly.
In 1979 the first owned AB206B-II JetRanger arrived, which was soon followed by a second one and, in 1981, the fleet was further expanded with the AB205-A1 large-scale helicopter, also produced by the AGUSTA factory.
The activity was subsequently extended throughout the national and international territory, including medical emergency work, humanitarian aid, aerial pesticide treatments, forest fire fighting and aerial inspection works on medium and high voltage power lines.
Among the most salient and significant experiences that have characterized the history of GIANA HELICOPTER, we can include a series of interventions carried out in Africa on behalf of the Italian Government Bodies and International Humanitarian Organizations, starting from 1985.
These interventions were mainly aimed, through the complex management of an integrated air-helicopter transport system, to assist local populations in terms of rescue, supply of medicines and basic necessities, construction of civil infrastructures, construction of operating radio links. through a network of repeaters positioned by the company itself.
The main scenario of the operations was the Ethiopian plateau, at an altitude of over 3,000 meters and in environmental conditions that required temperature ranges above 50 ° C.
Still on African soil, in Sudan, Darfur, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Somalia and Kenya, the company, once again the first in Italy, was commissioned to carry out helicopter rescue operations, med-evac air ambulance, medical transport with Piaggio P-166 aircraft. DL3 and 44-passenger Fokker F-27 and 15-seat AB-205A1 and AB-212 helicopters.
In the meantime, in the national field, the fleet expands with the purchase of the first SA 315B LAMA, which will be followed within a few years by another two SA 315B LAMA and two SA 316B Alouette III.
In 1987, GIANA HELICOPTER was called, first of all, to help the people of Valtellina during the disastrous flood and to lend her work and experience in the field of Civil Protection in the following months.
In 1988, still engaged in East Africa on behalf of the Italian Government and at the same time in Valtellina on behalf of the Lombardy Region in the post-flood reconstruction works, in addition to the normal transport and aerial work activities in Piedmont, GIANA HELICOPTER was called to operate, again on behalf of the Italian Government and in collaboration with the European Community and the FAO, in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia in activities of pesticide aerial treatments, as part of the emergency locust campaign.
In 1991 GIANA HELICOPTER bought two Robinson R22s to be used as flight school, while at the end of the 1990s the brand new and technologically advanced 7-seat Bell 407 helicopter took the place of the Alouette III.
Over the years GIANA HELICOPTER has been called upon to lend its rescue and civil protection work in numerous emergencies, including firefighting campaigns in Sardinia, floods in Piedmont in 1998 and 2000, ephemeral Lake on Monte Rosa 2002 and others, including experimental phases of mosquito pest control on rice fields in Northern Italy and cork forests in Sardinia.
Among the first Italians in which our staff has made its know-how available, GIANA HELICOPTER can include, in addition to the first fire-fighting service with civil helicopters in Italy and the first air ambulance in Italy, the start of the Bosch fire-fighting service in the Region Campania (1998), the Helicopter Rescue Service in the Abruzzo Region (L'Aquila 1998) and the experimental service of anti-mosquito aerial treatments in Italy (Municipality of Casale Monferrato 2000).
Since the start of flight operations in the early 1970s, there was a need to have a maintenance service on site for their helicopters, initially guaranteed by the manufacturers PILATUS, AGUSTA and HUGHES.
Thus, parallel to the flight activities, the in-house aeronautical maintenance service was born, which in a short time obtained from the Italian Aeronautical Register (now ENAC) the Certificate of Technical Suitability for the maintenance necessary for the GIANA HELICOPTER fleet.
In the year 2000, Gian Paolo Giana saw the need to make the in-house maintenance service more versatile and make his experience and professionalism available to third parties in the sector of technical fleet management and aircraft maintenance.
Thus was born ROTOR, a MRO company that provides maintenance and repair services of aircrafts and parts, including the overhaul of helicopters, maintenance and repair of dynamic components and much more, necessary to keep the helicopter fleet at maximum efficiency and always operational.
ROTOR also carries out maintenance of third party helicopters and is EASA Certified Maintenance and Repair Organization (MRO) with approval No. IT.145.0235, for Bell Helicopter, Airbus Helicopters, Robinson Helicopters, as well as Rolls-Royce, SAFRAN and Lycoming engines, for Commercial Air Transport and Air Work operators.
In the mid-2000s Gian Paolo Giana, who in the meantime has returned to reside in the Swiss Confederation where his family has its roots, together with his sons gives birth to a new entrepreneurial reality: SIMPLON AIR GmbH (SAH).
SIMPLON AIR initially offers aeronautical consultancy and the purchase and sale of aircraft and parts, over time extending its capabilities and field of activity to the Helicopter Flight School, based at Lugano-Agno Airport (TI), to Airworthiness Management Organization, resulting among the first Swiss organizations to obtain the new Part CAMO certification (No.CH.CAMO.3051), as well as Specialized Operations with Helicopters, such as the transport of External Loads, Forest Fire, Precision Assembly.
Over the years Simplon Air has acquired a more important position within the Giana group, becoming today the leading element of the group's operational activities, offering its air services in the Swiss and international territory, gathering and concentrating in a single reality all the accumulated experience and know-how acquired in the course of over 50 years of activity in the aviation field.
The passion, dedication and professionalism placed in the work has been rewarded with its longevity. Experience and professionalism, combined with the passion for this work, are fundamental and essential values for us.