Originally trained as a lawyer, Jose Luis Moreno spent the early part of his career working for various commercial organisations in Spain.
“My previous roles, which have included working as an HR director and commercial director, have really helped in my current role as managing director at PLYSA. They enabled me to develop my skills in different sectors and gain a greater understanding of the different areas of a business,” he says.
Founded relatively recently in 2016, PLYSA belongs to the Air Nostrum Group. Moreno reveals that just months after receiving European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certification in April 2018, PLYSA was fighting its first fires in Galicia.
“Innovation is at the heart of what we do and who we are,” he says. “EASA certification has enabled us to bring a brand-new fleet, state-of-the-art technology and an innovative way of approaching firefighting operations to the regions we serve.”
PLYSA currently has around 50 employees, ranging from pilots and engineers to ground support staff. It operates firefighting bases in Beariz, Doade, Mazaricos and Reboira y Xinzo de Limia (Galicia), Ampuria Brava (Gerona) and Niebla (Huelva), as well as a pilot training facility in Sotos (Cuenca). It also has a maintenance centre in Valencia. In summer 2020 the operator carried out three contracts for the Government of Galicia and three more for Spain’s Ministry of Ecology.
The company currently operates a fleet of 15 Thrush 710P aircraft – described by the manufacturer as “the world’s most powerful ag (agricultural) plane featuring one of the best swath and spray patterns available.” Moreno agrees. “We chose the Thrush 710P primarily for its advanced technology and its versatility in all kinds of environments.” He hopes to have increased the fleet to 21 aircraft by the end of year, so that operations can be scaled up and ultimately extended beyond Spain to other destinations within Europe and as far afield as South America, North America and Australia.
Given the nature of PLYSA’s aerial firefighting services, the ability to ensure safe, reliable operations is key.
“Fuelling is integral to our day-to-day business,” says Moreno. “Air bp understood PLYSA’s needs from the beginning. Their technologically advanced fuel units allow our ground operators to refuel aircraft quickly, efficiently and securely.”
He explains that PLYSA uses single-point refuelling (SRP) or underwing fuelling, to help reduce turnaround times. “The supply units from Air bp guarantee we can operate SRP safely and improve our efficiency,” he says.
While COVID-19 has been the cause of unprecedented challenges across the aviation industry, Moreno points out that as an emergency service provider, PLYSA has been able to operate “almost normally”, all things considered. “Since the start of the pandemic we have focused on being able to protect our teams so that we can continue to respond to firefighting emergencies. Subsequently we have implemented various health and safety measures to ensure our crew and hangar personnel remain protected while at work.”
With the industry now more focused on a sustainable future than ever before, PLYSA is playing its role in contributing to a lower carbon future.
“Fighting against climate change is our primary objective and is embedded in our mission as a company. By extinguishing fires we are contributing to the reduction of CO2 emissions. Where possible, we also carry out sustainable practices within the business including paper reduction, using hybrid or electric vehicles, and supporting the development of renewable fuels, such as the sustainable aviation fuel supplied by Air bp.”
Moreno adds that in terms of sustainable growth, PLYSA is also keen to support and promote young people within the aerial fire prevention sector. “There is currently a lack of firefighting pilots in the global market. The industry needs young talent to join the sector and bring new capabilities and skills. My message to young people considering a career in this sector is: If you’re passionate about protecting life and the environment, come and talk to us!”
After all, Moreno concludes that it’s the “great team” of people he works alongside that are his main motivation to get up and go to work each day. “I continue learning from them every day. They are truly my heroes – they are highly-skilled individuals, who are trained and ready to protect what we care most about, our planet!”