For INAEC, the sky’s the limit“Look, up in the sky! It’s a bird…It’s a plane…It’s INAEC!” That doesn’t quite have the ring of the original line from the “Superman” TV series, but gives you an idea what INAECis. If you’ve ever watched an ABS-CBN newscast, you’ve probably seen INAEC. If you’ve come across stunning photos of a volcano’s crater, that’s INAEC. Read about someone incritical condition who was airlifted to a hospital in x minutes flat? That was also likely thanks to INAEC.
INAEC Aviation Corporation, headquartered at the INAEC Hangar at the domestic airport in Pasay City, is a storied company whose backstory involves intriguing names inaviation.
INAEC GroundLess than 20 years after the so-called Pioneer Era of aviation in the early 20th century, Lopez Group founder Eugenio “Eñing” H. Lopez Sr. was already immersed in this new frontier. He ventured intocommercial aviation through the Iloilo-Negros Air Express Company (INAEC), founded in 1932, which became the first Filipino-owned civil airline in the Philippines.
INAEC’s first chief pilot was US Air Force Major Henry Meider. Post-INAEC, Maj. Meider was noted for piloting “The Flying Basket,” a plane made of stripped bamboo and wood. An experiment by the Philippine Air Force and the Institute of Science and Technology, it aimed to determine“whether local products could be substituted for expensive imports in plane construction.”
A photo published in a US newspaper in 1953 shows Maj. Meider beside a light-colored plane with “experimental” etched on its side in black uppercase letters.
Luxury in the sky. INAEC flies you to the country’s tourist spots. You get the best aerial view while experiencing privacy and convenience.Stinson Aircraft Company, the maker of INAEC’s first, trimotor plane, was founded by aviator Edward Stinson in Ohio. After the company was sold to Piper Aircraft Corporation in 1950, its “Twin Stinson” design was transformed into the Piper Apache, which later became known as “the world’s first general aviation all-metal twin-engine modern aircraft.”
After World War II, INAEC was transformed into Far Eastern Air TransportInc. (FEATi) and subsequently sold to the Sorianos of Philippine Airlines. Don Eñing’s INAEC then began flying Meralco executives as the power distributor’s de facto aviation department until the plunder of the Lopez assets during the martial law period.
In 1993, INAEC took to the skies again, this time as INAEC Aviation Corporation, a company exclusively servicing the aviation needs of the Lopez Group companies.
“It was really just a private operation,” recalled current president Benjamin R. Lopez.Eurocopter EC 135 rotary wing twin engine “However, owning and running an aviation company is not cheap. If you’re not flying enough, it starts to require more maintenance—and that’s a major cost. At some point the costs starts to outweigh the benefit.”
The decision was made to take out a chartering license in 2001—and soon INAEC spread its wings into the domestic and international chartering of the nonscheduled air services market, with a vision to achieve excellence in air chartering in the Philippines. This the company aims to achieve by providing safe, reliable, efficient customer oriented air charter services compliant with the International Civil Aviation Authority Organization and local regulatory requirements.
The new INAEC offers corporate charter, cargo transport, hotel services, offshore oil rig and exploration, news and events coverage and aerial photography services, as well as medical evacuation, to a mix of clients—multinational corporations, government institutions, spas and hotels, and individuals.
“The value proposition we offer is that we get you from point A to point B without the hassle. We take the time and stress away in dealing with all the necessary processes in the airport, from having your bags screened, going through the lines to get your boarding pass, then queuing again to pay your travel or airport tax, and queuing again to get screened before your plane departs, and all the while hoping that your plane doesn’t get delayed or cancelled. If you value your time and peace of mind then you should be valuing INAEC,” pointed out the youngest son of Lopez Group chairman emeritus Oscar M. Lopez.
INAEC offshore operations in PalawanINAEC’s fleet currently includes Beechcraft Super King Air 350s, and AS 350s, an AS 355, EC 135 and Bell 206L-3 helicopters. People who want to splurge for anniversaries or special occasions can also checkout the company’s choppers for a different kind of high. Well, why not? “It’s a chance of a lifetime,” agreed Lopez. “Do an aerial flight to Mt. Pinatubo or Mayon, see it from the air while sipping champagne. How can you compare with that?”
Clients are definitely in safe hands with the all-Filipino team of pilots from the Philippine Air Force and the country’s leading aviation schools who have thousands of hours of “combined flying experience to meet the varying air chartering needs of its clients.” Along with the mechanics and technicians, Team INAEC has notched a “Well-Done” award for exceptional safety record from the Philippines’ aviation regulatory body, Air Transportation Office (now known as the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines).
“One of our most important values is safety. A lot of times the passengers take it forINAEC team performing medical emergency services granted, but safety consciousness is always there,” Lopez emphasized. “You have to make sure that your pilots are always certified, your equipment is always updated and upgraded and checked by independent auditors. The pilots get certified every two years; they’re highly skilled, highly trained. You get value for money if you fly with us, because you get the comfort, safety and privacy.”
The INAEC president said he constantly stresses the importance of safety to the pilots and are never to put anyone at risk. Their passengers are not only the busy Lopez group executives who have meetings to attend or other businesses to take care of, but also other demanding Filipino and foreign VIPs. The pilots and crew themselves, of course, need to go home to their respective families, so safety always comes first.
Part of the INAEC team with the newly-acquired twin engine, AS 355 F2Lopez also noted that one of only two Master Technicians for the Hawker Beechcraft King Air 300/350 in the Philippines is an INAEC man: Herminio Brion, a former mechanic who rose through the ranks over the years to becoming a member of the INAEC board.
At the same time, Brion’s achievement underscores the human resource issue that is a plague on the industry as a whole: pilots are in high demand and expert technicians are rare. But those who leave almost always come back to INAEC, which despite its growth through the years, has maintained its warm, nonhierarchical environment, complete with the family’s values and a tightly-knit working team.
“We have a committed and passionate team in place, and we have ambitions. We’re focusing on what we do best—flying our clients from point A to point B. Do we want to be an airline with scheduled flying, and bring it back to its historical roots? Who knows?For us, the sky’s the limit,” Lopez concluded.