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Bel Air ready for 2010 introduction of new offshore helicopter rules Denmark’s Bel Air, which has entered a “Call off” contract with Maersk Oil, says it has fully complied with the new European performance requirements for offshore helicopters that come into force in 2010. “The Call off contract means that, at short notice, Bel Air can be asked to carry out flights to Danish Underground Consortium (DUC) platforms in the North Sea,” says Capt Susanne H Lastein, md. “Our new AW139 has already carried out the first flights for Maersk Oil successfully, transporting cargo to Dan Fox, replacing employees on the platforms and carrying out shuttle operations.” DUC is a joint venture of AP Moller-Maersk with 39%, Shell with 46% and Chevron with 15%. Lastein adds: “Huge resources have to be spent to make sure that Bel Air is in front when it comes to new requirements guaranteeing that offshore helicopters at takeoff from a helicopter deck are always able to fly with only one engine, avoiding forced landing on the water should one engine fail. By reducing payload, most offshore helicopters comply with performance requirements when taking off from a platform. However the AW139, with 1,872 hp each engine, is able to take off at maximum weight – 4,800 kgs – and to keep flying even with only one engine operative.” For the Maersk contract the AW139 can be transformed to accommodate four euro pallets and a combination of passengers and cargo is also possible. “It lends itself to a one to 15 seat configuration or an eight passenger vip configuration providing great legroom,” Lastein adds. Bel Air has also contracted with Dong Energy Power. The company’s employees operating in the Horns Rev Wind Farm are transported to and from work in the AW139.

ME & MY AIRCRAFT Very Light Jets

page 12

Dubai’s Elite Jets brings two more Falcons into service

page 3

Gainjet’s 757 ‘takes market by storm’

page 4

Fastnet Jet Alliance works on range of services

page 6

Solid Air augments fleet with EX EASy and Challenger 850

page 11

SPECIAL FOCUS For details of how to enter, see page 3. For details of how to enter, see page 3.

Operator review of Switzerland

page 8

Vibroair brings Legacy 600 on stream Germany’s Vibroair has added a Legacy 600 to its fleet and plans to bring in two Phenoms. The pre-flight photo shows (from left) first officer Peter Jo Schmidt; flight attendant Petra Bochmann, Capt Holger Obst and accountable manager Ulrich Sigmann. Full story page 18.

Majestic works to build global private aviation platform Majestic Executive Aviation, which launched its private charter operations in 2006 with just the personal Learjet 60 of chairman Farooq Arjomand, has expanded its fleet in Europe and the Middle East to include a Challenger 850, Gulfstream 200, Learjet 60, Learjet 40XR, Global 5000, Embraer Legacy, G-550, G-IV SP and a G-V. It expects to attract more aircraft under management in the near future. President Philipp Zürcher says: “We are waiting for the confirmation of additional aircraft including the Global Express and the Airbus A319.” The company, which has Austrian and UAE AOCs, is developing business from bases in Dubai, Vienna and the Ukraine. Zürcher says business is also being built up in the United States after Majestic Executive Aviation LLC, Las Vegas, was founded in July this year. Additionally, in China, a joint venture is under negotiation. Zürcher says: “We will build a true

Philipp Zürcher: global development.

global platform for private aviation. This will embrace services including the finance, purchase and sale of aircraft, operation and management and the sale of empty leg availabilities of managed aircraft in the ad hoc charter market. The company will also set up shuttle operations with vvip aircraft for big companies and luxury travel operators.”

Majestic owns the Learjet 60 with the rest of the fleet managed. “The company works in close co-operation with IWA in Dubai, Comlux in Switzerland, swiss-acm in Switzerland, Mideast Jet in Jeddah and many other top operators all over the world,” Zürcher says. “We are reaching out to a wide global market that includes individuals as well as big companies and governments.” Zürcher was seven years md of Travcon Charter Brokers, a role now carried out by his daughter Jaël Zürcher. Travcon, which is exclusively marketing a Gulfstream G-V, reports a general rise in enquiries after good months in August and September. “On the G-V we hope to sell approximately 400 hours this year,” says Travcon sales director Tobias Zürcher. “Our clients range from private individual to businessmen and from companies to governments. We specialise in long haul trips and big vvip aircraft such as BBJs, B-757s, B-767s and ACJs.”

VLJs face tough competition from larger jets VLJ operators expect to attract more passengers but face increasing competition from larger aircraft, a conference in the UK was told. Operators point out that, while operating VLJs costs less than operating larger business jets, they are by no means cheap and, in terms of price, there is tough competition with aircraft such as the CJ1 and CJ2, the Premier 1 and small turboprops. Concern about “over-optimism” on the part of some air taxi operators is shared by Wondair of Valencia, Spain, which is building an 11-strong fleet of Phenom 100s, Phenom operator Jetquik of the United States and the UK’s London Executive Aviation (LEA). However, there is a belief that VLJs have weathered the tough times and that the sector, and private aviation, has grounds for optimism in the future. Full VLJ conference report: page 17


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OCTOBER 2009 3


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The Elite Jets team expects more management contracts.

Dubai’s Elite Jets brings two more Falcons into service and enhances long haul capability Dubai-based Elite Jets has brought a Falcon 900DX on stream for charter. “I am extremely pleased with the aircraft,” says Ammar Balkar, board member, president and ceo. The company, which plans to bring a Falcon 7X into service within weeks, also operates a CJ3, a 850XP, a G450 and a Falcon 900B. Balkar says: “The 900DX is an advanced large-size, wide-body business jet with intercontinental range that embodies the best of Falcon Jets characteristics – long range, acclaimed cabin comfort and remarkable versatility – with unique safety and performance features. It exemplifies excellence in travel for the corporate vip or leisure traveller.” He says the 900DX comes with top-of-the-range facilities, threeengine configuration and the latest avionics technology offered by the EASy flight deck. “The 900DX doesn’t have the limitations or restrictions other jets have and it can go where other aircraft cannot,” says Balkar. “It is

Police deploy substitute EC135 after arson attack The UK’s West Midlands Police air support unit is bringing an EC135 into service to temporarily replace a helicopter destroyed by an arson attack until a new aircraft can be delivered in the summer of 2010. Eurocopter announced at Helitech 2009 at the UK’s Imperial War Museum near Duxford that it had provided the temporary aircraft, which features a mission pod, at short notice. West Midlands police reported that neighbouring forces had been helping out with aerial support in the interim while it was without a helicopter. Helitech’s static display featured 42 rotary aircraft including the new EC135P2i of Suffolk Police and the Metropolitan Police air support unit’s EC145. Sue Bradshaw, the event’s exhibition director, says thousands attended with this year’s event attracting more than 200 exhibiting companies from 21 different countries. Sikorsky presented a ceremonial cheque to the RAF Museum, in addition to donating an MH-53. Sergei Sikorsky handed over the cheque.

Ammar Balkar: more Falcons.

approved to land or depart at London City airport and it performs well, especially in hot weather zones. Thus, you’ll have access to many smaller airports, which is especially valuable on multi-sector trips. Also the threeengine configuration not only gives you added peace of mind on long routes over water, but it’s simply a smarter way to fly.” The 900DX, he says, comfortably seats 13 passengers with the latest in-

flight amenities. “It has an interior that is significantly more comfortable than other jets in its class. The long cabin, with plenty of stand-up head room, allows you to move about with ease, stretch out and relax or work in comfort with increased productivity, or sleep soundly as you travel the globe. The interior’s privacy and comfort are really invaluable on lengthy missions where passengers need to be well rested for work upon arrival. In short, it is an environment which makes travel both pleasurable and productive.” Balkar says other advantages include speed. “For example, the 900DX can fly from London to Boston in seven hours flat. With a range of 4,100 nm it connects continents with ease and can comfortably cross both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.” With only eight passengers onboard the 900DX can travel up to eight hours, non-stop, from Dubai to destinations including Singapore, Taiwan, Seoul or Beijing; Johannesburg or Durban in South

Africa; and Casablanca, Marrakesh or Lagos. “It can reach all Scandinavian capitals as well as Dublin in Ireland and St Petersburg and Novosibirsk in Russia. With only one stop, the Falcon 900DX from Dubai can reach destinations such as New York via Shannon or Rio de Janeiro via Lagos. Also of great interest to our clients from Saudi Arabia will be the aircraft range from Jeddah, for example all the way up to Moscow, Singapore, Bangkok, Cape Town or even Sierra Leone non-stop without having to refuel.” Established in January 2004, Elite Jets is now owned by a group of businessmen from the UAE and Jordan with the JML Group having a 49% stake and is based at Dubai airport free zone. Balkar says the 7X will be based in Dubai and available for charter starting mid-November serving the demand of business travellers between Asia, the Middle East and Europe. “Other aircraft management agreements are under negotiations.”

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Multiflight enjoys racing star’s success Multiflight, based at Leeds Bradford in the UK, has gained valuable publicity after sponsoring motor racing star Jon Lancaster.

Bristow acquires AW139 after successful offshore missions with the S92 Bristow Group Inc has ordered three AW139 medium twins for offshore transport missions with options for additional acquisitions. The company says that the AW139 offers good performance, low operating costs, an ergonomic cockpit, excellent handling characteristics and low vibration levels that significantly reduce pilot fatigue and enhance comfort. Last year Bristow Helicopters invested more than £70 million in a fleet of six S92s to service North Sea oil and gas installations out of Shetland in Scatsta. Tim Rolfe, chief training captain S92, Bristow European Operations, says: “The fleet has been making up to 90 trips a week with the aircraft which have been designed with the highest levels of safety and performance in mind. The ‘stand-up’ cabin ceiling

Bristow: £70 million investment.

height of 1.83m and the increased baggage capacity are benefiting clients and passengers who now enjoy the bonus of separate heating, vent and air conditioning systems providing them with fresh air from above while keeping them warm.” Rolfe says: “Being part of the introduction of the S92 into the Bristow UK fleet has been an extremely satisfying experience, both personally and professionally. Our

crews and engineers faced several significant challenges in the early stages, all of which were met with enthusiasm and professionalism. The process meant enhancing our relationships with the aircraft manufacturer, Sikorsky, their training provider FlightSafety International and our then joint venture partners Norsk Helicopters (now Bristow Norway) who had been through a similar introduction with the S92 previously. “We have learnt much to date and are fully aware of how much more there is to learn – it’s all part of the excitement of being involved in such a challenging process. The next exciting phase is just around the corner – the commissioning of our own S92 simulator in our brand new training facility in Aberdeen.”

Lancaster: winning publicity.

Lancaster from Calverley, Leeds, took his maiden World Series Renault victory winning the first two races at Portimao in the Algarve. He held off a fierce challenge from Bertrand Baguette and Jaime Alguersuari. Steve Borrowdale, Multiflight md, says: “This was a great win for him and everyone here at Multiflight is delighted with his progress in the World Series.” Multiflight has sponsored Lancaster since 2007, when he competed in the Eurocup Formula Renault 2.0, the global single-seater racing series which has been the stepping stone into F1 for many drivers including Kimi Raikkonen, Felipe Massa and Scott Speed.

4 OCTOBER 2009


New ceo takes up global challenge for Rizon

Poland modernises HEMS fleet with EC135s

Rizon has given its new group ceo Patrick Enz a brief to make the company a leading global and Middle East company. Swiss-born Enz succeeds Will Curtis who steps down after two years of spearheading the development of the company in Doha, Qatar and London Biggin Hill. Brand new 120,000 sq ft hangar facilities housing new MRO and FBO activity at both locations open soon. Enz says he will develop markets and customer relationships in the vvip segment and turn-key projects such as MROs and FBOs in Europe, the Middle East, Asia and South America. Prior to running his own business aviation consultancy Enz was vp business development at Jet Aviation Management AG in Zurich. He says: “I will do everything in my power to lead Rizon Group to the next level in its already remarkable history.” Ahmed Al-Mannai, a Rizon director, says: “We will work with Enz towards establishing Rizon as the leading business aviation company in the Middle East and placing it among the top quality firms on the global market.” Two-year-old Rizon has offices in the UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, Jeddah and London and is focused on providing vip charter and support services in the Middle East, Asia, India, Russia, Africa and Europe. Al-Mannai says: “We will meet increasing demand for corporate aircraft charter in the Gulf Cooperation Council states and expand through aircraft maintenance services, an aircraft trading and management arm. In Bahrain, Doha and London, Rizon is advancing plans to become an authorised service centre for various OEMs, serving operators in the Gulf, Middle East and Indian subcontinent markets.”

Patrick Enz: next level.

The first of 23 EC135s which have been assigned to Poland’s nationwide HEMS network will be deployed next year. “The arrival of the EC135s at our bases is part of an ongoing process to modernise our HEMS infrastructure,” explains Robert Galazkowski, director of Warsaw-based Polish operator Lotnicze Pogotowie Ratunkowe (LPR). “We are determined to provide the Polish people with the highest-quality HEMS services and the entry into service of the EC135 is a major step forward for us.” The new EC135, scheduled to enter into service at the beginning of January, will be based in Warsaw. Five more EC135s are slated for delivery in the coming months with the remaining 17 to follow in 2010. The fleet will be spread around all 17 Polish bases and will replace the existing fleet of Mi-2s. Galazkowski says: “This will bring Poland up to date with the latest European standards.” Technical support for LPR’s EC135s will be provided by the Warsaw-based Heli Invest, a Eurocopter distributor and certified maintenance centre that offers a full range of customer services, including a 24-7 hotline with Polish-speaking operators.

Gainjet’s Boeing 757 enables it to offer a vip aircraft for groups of up to 78. Pictured on the left of the stairway are cabin crew manager Olga Beglopoulou; cabin crew Styliani Podara and first officer Michalis Avgoustidis. On their right is flight operations manager Capt Michail Tsiledakis, cabin crew Elisavet Cholidou, deputy cabin crew manager Ioanna Verginadi and cabin crew Danielle Patrikios.

Gainjet says refurbished Boeing 757 has ‘taken luxury charter market by storm’ Gainjet reports that a Boeing 757 it brought into service in the summer has “taken the market by storm.” Ramsey Shaban, ceo, says: “This is one of the very few 2000 models available for private charter. The aircraft can seat up to 78 people in superb luxury with seating arrangements around dining tables in the forward cabin and the option to divide the cabin into three sections.” The aircraft, he says, is the perfect choice for heads of state, sports teams and musicians. The 757 has undergone major refurbishment. Shaban

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adds: “There has been attention to detail in every aspect, from the stitching of exceptionally comfortable cradle seats, the colours for the seats, carpets and walls, to the carefully selected hand held IFE systems.” Gainjet promises exceptional and bespoke onboard service and carefully selected catering only from the best suppliers. Shaban adds: “While our 40 seat vip MD83 has always been and still is a popular choice for these types of groups, the 757 has given Gainjet the benefit of being able to offer its

clients another vip aircraft for larger groups of up to 78.” He points out: “Choice for clients is always very important and now with the fleet of aircraft ranging from 10 to 78 seats we can offer an aircraft for most types of charter. The 757 has a range of up to 8.5 hours depending on payload, so transatlantic trips have already proved popular. Since coming online the aircraft has already spanned the globe with charters to the United States and the Far East and plenty of destinations in between.”

MICE play key role in Seawings development of new business The growing MICE (meeting, incentive, convention and exhibition) market and its increasing popularity in Dubai is bringing varied business opportunities according to Seawings ceo Stuart Wheeler. “The sector brings a huge demand for innovative ideas and Seawings, with three aircraft taking off at regular intervals and the only seaplane tour operator in Dubai, has ensured that it caters to this ever-changing industry scene.” He adds: “All of our packages are tailor-made and are based on client requirements and specifications. Once the programme has been

Seawings: meeting demand.

decided we do our best to make the trip an unforgettable experience. We cater to groups of any size and have the expertise to facilitate a wide range of activities tailored towards groups, ensuring a completely unique event.”


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Poland: EC135 choice.

Galazkowski says the 23 EC135s ordered by LPR comply with the particularly stringent international safety regulations governing emergency medical services. Before joining the European Union LPR used helicopters that were almost 30 years old – PZL Mi-2s made by PZL Swidnik and PZL M-20 Mewa, the Polish license-built version of the Piper PA-34 Seneca. But Galazkowski says: “Accessing Poland to the EU meant LPR had to became fully compliant with JAR OPS. Because of that, during 2002 to 2004, 19 Mi-2s were modernised to Mi-2 Plus standard with updated medic cabins, enhanced engines and new avionics and communication systems. But it was obvious that this type, which is not able to carry out night flights and had weak performance, must be replaced by a modern helicopter. Mi-2 Plus also had not completed the Cat III performance requirements needed.” LPR brought the A109E Power into service in July 2005 at the WarsawBabice base. Night flights, single pilot IFR operations, were restarted, and LPR plans to renew the fleet were announced. In September 2006 three companies bid for the contract. PZL Swidnik and AgustaWestland both offered the A109 Grand and Eurocopter EC135. “Technical requirements prepared by the Polish Ministry of Health preferred the EC135 to the A109S Grand. One of the requirements was having skids rather than wheeled landing gear. Another obligation was having a passage from cockpit to medical cabin,” Galazkowski adds.

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6 OCTOBER 2009

Fastnet Jet Alliance works on range of services Ireland’s Fastnet Jet Alliance, which manages a new CJ3 for a private consortium, is planning to expand its group aircraft ownership scheme and provide a range of private aircraft services. Mark Casey, ceo and CJ3 captain, says: “We are a relatively new company formed in January 2008 and have a fully functioning flight operations department in Cork where we have a business jet specific ramp under construction. Our business plan is to have a fully functioning FBO early in 2010 with on-site maintenance support. We are constructing a fuel farm and have purchased 25,000 litre storage tanks. Our target market includes individuals or consortiums that own or wish to purchase a private jet and require an experienced management structure to facilitate their needs.” He adds: “As an aircraft operator with our own operations and

Mark Casey and Fastnet executives are implementing a group ownership scheme.

engineering departments we can ensure that our aircraft are maintained to the highest technical standards as required by EASA. This,

together with our highly experienced flight crew, ensures that all our flights operate to the highest level of safety and comfort.”

Fastnet Jet Alliance’s business plan is to attract owners or potential part owners into its group ownership operation. “We don’t currently have plans to provide a charter service but we do offer smaller shares in the aircraft for low time users. Our ambition is to offer longer range aircraft in addition to the CJ3. We can also offer shared ownership in three helicopters – two Bell 407s and one Bell 206. We would manage any type of aircraft, fixed wing or rotary. Fuel and pre-clearance for the United States are obvious advantages in Ireland and we hope to take advantage of both as we attract new aircraft.” Casey adds: “We have two captains and two first officers, a ground engineer and an operations team with 24-7 support.” The captains have extensive airline experience and Casey still flies the B757 as a captain part-time.

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WEA team ready to work unsocial hours to expand charter business The Atlantic Bridge Aviation (ABA) Group, which is celebrating its 21st anniversary, has rebranded its ondemand air charter services under the World Executive Airways (WEA) title and upgraded its AOC to include dangerous goods clearance. Jonathan Gordon, md, says: “We are seeing increased requests for the ad hoc flights and organ transplant. However, our mainstream demand is based upon long-term customers who have, thankfully, come to us and remained with us after being looked after.” The company is targeting organ and medevac and dangerous goods charters. Gordon says: “We are gearing up to react to the unsociable hours often required with organ transplant. We see regular ‘main market’ charter business as being a target for next year when the economy will hopefully be in better shape and we have several initiatives going at present to improve our chances here.” The WEA fleet includes the B200 King Air, PA31 Chieftain and B58 Baron. “The King Air is a comfortable and efficient top-of-the-line executive turboprop capable of carrying up to nine passengers at cruise speeds of over 300 mph. Its range permits direct flights to destinations as far as southern Spain, Greece and Eastern Europe.”

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Jonathan Gordon: targeting new business.

Gordon, who is also md of London Ashford Airport at Lydd, says. “WEA gives us a clear platform to sell our executive air charter services to the corporate and leisure sectors, in addition to our air cargo operations, medevac flights and human organ transplant services. It will also give us greater cohesion in marketing our range of services to users in the UK and overseas.” He adds: “Over the past two decades ABA has expanded to cover everything from airline start-ups to a successful fractional ownership programme and an international scheduled airline in LyddAir.” WEA has teamed up with seven chauffeur drive car companies to offer bespoke ground and air transport packages targeted at both the business and leisure travel sectors to destinations in the UK and overseas. “Packages come branded as silver, gold or platinum depending on which type of aircraft clients choose,” Gordon says. “WEA is also entering into a similar deal with a chauffeur drive company in France, in what could be the first in a number of tieups with European-based partners.” The companies are Vennards of London, Greys of London, MS Executive Chauffeurs, A&H Chauffeur Cars, I Chauffeur, 1st Destination and Platinum Cars. The ABA Group, launched in 1988, is involved in aviation consultancy and aircraft leasing as well as airport and airline operations.


8 OCTOBER 2009


Swiss charter companies are seeing signs of an upturn in the charter market but the consensus seems to be that business recovery will be gradual. Swiss Executive Aviation Ltd nevertheless reports good business in August and BB Heli AG Zurich is among companies enjoying positive charter levels. Global Jet Concept is benefiting from focusing on aircraft management while ExecuJet Europe says business is picking up. Successful companies work productively in good and in bad economic times and Comlux Aviation is reaping the benefit of investing in greater efficiency of service during the downturn. Stephen Laven, Zurich-based ceo of the Fly Comlux division, who reports a rising level of enquiries for aircraft management, says the company and its clients are enjoying the benefits of new premises. “Most of the Comlux fleet is now operated from Malta, which reduces the currency risk as this reflects our business originating in the European Union, but we have also improved our offices and facilities in Switzerland.” Comlux Aviation AG’s Zurichbased head of human resources Corinna Eigenmann points out the new 1,000 sq m offices, currently housing 34 people, are close to the airport. “This allows our flying crew to visit the office more often, for example when they have a short stop over at Zurich airport,” she says. “The office provides additional space for transfer desks which allows them to do some work in the office.”

Swiss Skyways Services expects the private charter market to pick up.

She adds: “The facilities are more spacious and modern. There is an open space office for the charter sales team and the dispatch team. This allows smooth interaction between the teams. Direct communication between the two teams is essential for quick and efficient process, from selling the flight to putting it in operation. The spacious meeting room is equipped with a video conferencing system which allows our personnel to communicate directly and without travel cost with our colleagues around the world.” Luca Malone, head of charter sales, says that, while much work can be done on the telephone and by email, clients do expect charter offices to be conveniently close to the airport. “The move closer to the airport is therefore one which

Charter operators cautiously optimistic as business levels begin to recover slowly

Preparations for a Comlux Aviation flight.

meets the expectations of our clients,” he adds. As reported in EBAN September the Comlux fleet comprises 15 aircraft – two ACJs, two A318 Elites, three Global Express including two XRS, two Global 5000s, two Challenger 605s, two Challenger 850s, a Falcon 2000 and a Hawker 850. This includes three aircraft that are managed fully for private owners – an ACJ, a Global 5000 and a Challenger 605. Most of the fleet is now operated from Malta although the two XRS and the Falcon 2000 are being joined on the Swiss AOC by a Hawker 850. Swiss Executive Aviation Ltd, like many private charter businesses in Switzerland, is seeing business pick up after the contraction of volumes as clients cut back in response to the global economic recession. Capt Gunter Knall, ceo, says that the company is negotiating new management contracts and may hire staff to service new projects. The level of management business fell off in the Spring and the company’s broker business also suffered. But Knall reports: “In July and August the brokerage levels were better, especially in August which was actually a good month again. We hope the demand continues. At the same time we are in the process of offering four new aircraft managements to different clients and we expect positive results.” Knall says the summer saw demand improve with demand for Mediterranean destinations among the most buoyant. “New customers are coming out of our network of clients and operators. Either they waited for this opportunity to acquire an aircraft or they are changing the

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Swiss Executive Aviation Ltd: signs of upturn.

management because they are not happy with the current one anymore. We are a small operator providing a personal service and some clients prefer that.” Many experienced pilots, he reports, are looking for a new job but the good pilots are hired very quickly. "You still need to be lucky to find the right person at the right time but this will be our task in the near future.” Space for private aircraft in Switzerland’s busier airports is sometimes a problem, Knall points out. He says that FBO services at Zurich are good but: “Parking space is very limited and aircraft get parked far away from the FBO sometimes.” BB Heli Zurich operates a Bell 206B JetRanger and two EC120s from Zurich Airport focusing on passenger, freight, survey and surveillance, photography/film and aerial works. It also provides sightseeing and leisure, parachute jumps, taxi flights, glacier flights and has a pilot school for private and commercial pilots.

Tanja Mariani, who works on the operations side, says the company’s paperwork workload is still rising. “We urgently need a reduction in the bureaucracy generated by EASA and FOCA. The government fees and taxes are also rising and complicating our daily business.” Mariani would also like to see a reduction in the strong screening and security control at the airports. In the employment market, Mariani adds, companies can find a lot of pilots with a piston helicopter licence but there is a lack of experienced pilots for turbine helicopters. But Mariani says the charter market is positive with BB Heli Zurich attracting new customers through the recommendations of existing clients. The company carries out regular benefit flights for children with cancer. It also recently flew two handicapped people, with their wheelchairs in the baggage compartment, over high mountains

to a vineyard near the lake of Geneva. The latest addition to the fleet, a new EC120 Colibri, has, Mariani adds, turned out to be a fine aircraft with good comfort, speed and performance. But it can be expensive for maintenance and the company has had teething problems. “However, our new second generation Colibri has the advantage of two fenestrons and two main rotors. The normal twin helicopters have two engines (which never stop in flight), but only one main rotor, one tail rotor and one gear box," Mariani points out. Global Jet Concept (GJC) launched in 1999 with just two aircraft and is benefitting from its policy of focusing on managed aircraft. The fleet now includes a BBJ, a A318 Elite, two Global Express XRS, a Global Express and a Global 5000.

BB Heli Zurich focuses on passengers and freight.

The Falcon contingent is strong with a 900C, a 900 EX EASy, a 900 and three Falcon 2000s. There are also two Challenger 300s and three Challenger 604s. Other important aircraft include the G-200 and the Continued on page 10

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G-450, two Hawker 850XPs, a Learjet 45XR and three Embraer Legacy 600s. The company is headquartered in Geneva but has offices in Luxembourg, Paris, Moscow, Monaco and China. Alexandra Perrinjaquet, marketing manager, says that the aircraft fly between 80 to 90 hours monthly on charter flights. “Our strong focus on large cabin aircraft has stood us in good stead,” Perrinjaquet adds. “However, there is important demand for mid-size. The business demand is dominant but we receive enquiries on the leisure side, particularly in summer.” GJC enjoyed the peak period of business aviation but prepared for contracting demand before the recent slowdown. Perrinjaquet says that its diversification into countries such as China and the CIS, as well as the banking, insurance and raw material sectors, has stood it in good stead. ExecuJet Europe’s Cedric Migeon confirms: “Business has started to pick up in all of our regions over the last few months but we are still facing a long recovery stage from the main downturn at the end of last year. At the height of the recession companies were under significant pressure to spend less on travel. As the economy now stabilises more people are using business aviation as a means of travel again.” Migeon says Switzerland’s central location within Europe makes it a good base to access other European countries. “This makes it a popular destination for charter flight demand which we have identified and serviced over the last few years. We

Swiss Skyways in operation

Ascent Jet reports increasing enquiries from operators and brokers. Pictured are Regis Aldo Main, director; Ingibjorg-Olof Vilhjalmsdottir, legal counsel; Emily Wright, customer care, and Carl de Verteuil, md.

also have a strong network of loyal clients in Switzerland which makes it a good base to operate from.” Charter aircraft operated by ExecuJet Europe include two Global Express and an XRS, four Challenger 605s and two 300s and a Learjet 40 from home bases including Basel, Zurich, London, Kiev, Moscow and Copenhagen. The ExecuJet Aviation Group offers worldwide services including aircraft management, maintenance, FBO, completions management, charter and aircraft sales. Andreas Gafner, helicopter pilot and flight instructor with Swiss Skyways Services based at Mollis,

Heli Rezia SA: demand for aerial works.

confirms the charter market is difficult but adds: “We are convinced that it will change in the near future.” The company provides bespoke services to clients with its EC120 providing vip and passenger charter

and sightseeing and leisure trips. It also operates a flying school. Gafner says there are good facilities for business aviation at Mollis. “We have a large hangar and vip and conference facilities.” The company does not find it difficult to recruit qualified and experienced pilots. “We need only a small group of pilots. They all have very good qualifications and are all pilots with experience of operating in the Swiss mountains.” Skywork, which celebrated its 25th anniversary with deliveries of new aircraft in 2006, reports steady demand for its Dornier 328 and Dash

8 for seasonal charter and line operation from bases in Belp, Geneva, Zurich and Basle. Wholly Swiss-owned since launch, Skywork and its subsidiary Skywork Airlines, counts individual companies, associations, government agencies and private groups among its clients. Adrian Gallati, manager safety and security and pilot of the Dash 8, says Switzerland is a good private charter base for both national and international firms. Zurich’s JetClub Aircharter (JetAir) reports that there are signs of the private charter market picking up. But the company’s Urs Maienfisch says: “The world economic crises had, and still has, an impact in our business. However aircraft such as our three Learjet 60s are always popular.” JetAir also operates a Cessna 525, 500 and two 560XLs, a DA 900 and a G-V. “We have a broad variety of aircraft which helps us serve a diverse range of clients,” Maienfisch adds. The company offers management and consultancy as well as charter. Renato Belloli, md of Heli Rezia SA based at Ambrì and San Vittore, says that there is currently a higher demand for aerial works than executive charter although the company provides both. Its AS350B2, AS350B3, two SA315Bs, EC120B and Agusta A109 also carried out freight, air ambulance and

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medevac, photography and film and sightseeing commissions. Heli Rezia says it is sometimes difficult to find qualified and experienced pilots. Another Zurich operator, Senn Air, which is looking to add a Citation CJ2+ to its fleet, reports good demand for its CE525 for freight and hazardous freight, as well as passenger charter and sightseeing and leisure. Ronald Senn, md, says: “The addition of the CJ2+ indicates business demand is improving.” Carl de Verteuil, of Geneva’s Ascent Jet, which markets itself as a new generation broker, says there has been increasing interest from operators and brokers in the company’s developing e-platform for private jets. “Clients will receive offers directly online from participating operators and also real-time quote and purchase facility for flights (mostly light and very light jets) for intra-European flights,” he says. SAC Swiss Aviation Consultants, launched November 2005, points out that Switzerland is a country with one of the highest densities of business aircraft in Europe. “Thoroughly qualified, multilingual staff are available in Switzerland,” managing partner Dr Daniel Lütolf says.

OCTOBER 2009 11

Solid Air reports rising charter demand as EX EASy and Challenger 850 acquisitions augment versatile fleet Solid Air is reporting strong demand for its latest aircraft – the Falcon 2000 EX EASy and the Challenger 850. Sales and marketing manager Jerome van der Schaar says the Challenger 850 is particularly in demand for flights to Middle East destinations including Cairo and Beirut while the EX EASy is popular on Europe-North America routes. “Solid Air is member of the visa waiver program so flights to the United States can be organised really efficiently,” he adds. The Challenger 850 is home based at Eindhoven Airport and is suitable for 15 passengers. “It is a marketing plus that smoking and pets are allowed,” says “but so are the facilities, which are very attractive.” The cabin is equipped with six beds, two lavatories, high-end stereo equipment with iPod connection, wireless internet, fax, Xbox, two

Challenger 850 pilots Jeroen Veldhoen and Bart Hermans are among Solid Air staff pleased with the fleet expansion.

satcoms, oven-grill microwave and eight television screens. Van der Schaar says: “The Challenger 850 is the best value for money in charter market. It is a larger aircraft with lower

costs than many of the alternatives and many we have contacted see this is an excellent opportunity to switch from their current choice to better value for money.”

He says all pets are allowed on board but, for the UK market, Solid Air has a special licence for larger aerodromes available. “The business charter market is picking up rapidly, especially in the heavy jet sector, where clients are continuing to fly. We have noticed an increase in the last couple of months. Muenster-Osnabrueck has been added to our home bases and we find this international dimension is helping promote our business.” The EX EASy and the Challenger 850 take the Solid Air fleet to 14 aircraft which includes four CE650s, two Dornier 328s and two Citation Bravos. Solid Air reports that most of its clients book direct. But van der Schaar says: “We would love to work with brokers more often, however 90% of our customers are flight hour contractors.”


Dr Daniel Lütolf: UAE plans.

The company describes itself as a general know-how provider to aviation companies including operators and owners. Its business plan for the coming year includes developing its sales office in the United Arab Emirates into a fully operational local presence. Despite rising levels of business for at least some operators, companies are cautious and best estimates are that any recovery will be later rather than earlier in 2010.


Comprehensive Swiss online data free-of-charge The 2009/10 EBAN Handbook of Business Aviation in Europe gives details of many more Swiss charter operators. It also lists business aviation facilities and services including airports, FBOs and maintenance centres. The details can be accessed online through a search of aircraft operated or the airport bases. For more information please visit


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ME & MY AIRCRAFT Very Light Jets

Mustang enjoys premier status in Europe but faces a growing Phenom challenge

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The Citation Mustang: choice of many VLJ operators.


The Mustang has become established as a premier operating VLJ in Europe but a major challenge could lie ahead when rivals such as the Phenom 100 start to come into operation and seriously compete for a market share on price, service, performance and greater comfort. The Phenom has already begun to arrive in Europe and the Middle East, and along with Diamond Aircraft’s D-Jet will provide the Mustang with growing competition. From October this year FlairJet, which is backed by three Londonbased QCs, is managing two Phenom 100s at the UK’s Oxford airport, prior to the arrival of its first purchased aircraft in 2012. But the first European registered Phenom 100 jet landed at Ronaldsway airport on the Isle of Man after flying from Sao Paulo, Brazil, in May. It is owned by Midland Aviation Limited (see panel, page 14). George Galanopoulos, md of the UK’s London Executive Aviation which plans to operate both Mustangs and Phenoms, says the company is satisfied with maintenance support for the Mustang but with dispatch reliability there were various teething problems that Cessna were “very slow to deal with.� He adds: “Cessna needs to work a lot harder in its product support, especially in view of new competition from manufacturers such as Embraer that offer an excellent service.�

FlairJet will be among the first to operate a Phenom 100.

But Galanopoulos is very satisfied with the operating capability and value and says that the best thing about the Mustang is the operating economics. “The most desirable upgrade,� he adds, “would be slightly longer range and payload.� LEA is among a growing number of charter operators in Europe that have pioneered the introduction of the VLJ. But, though operators now feel that the private charter market will recover gradually over the next 18 months or so, the global economic recession has lessened the impact of VLJs in terms of encouraging the wider take-up of business aviation. However, there are a significant numbers of Continental European and Middle East operators claiming worthwhile business or citing growing potential, including Austria’s GlobeAir and VIF Luftfahrt; Belgium’s ASL and FlyingGroup; the Czech Republic’s Grossmann Jet Service; Germany’s Triple Alpha; Italy’s Delta Aerotaxi and ItAli Airlines;

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Lebanon’s Open Sky Aviation; the Netherlands’ Sky-Taxi; Portugal’s Helibravo and Switzerland’s Your Jet. The UK has a number of operators convinced that the VLJ has potential including Blink, LEA, SaxonAir Charter, Skydrift and FlairJet. Patrick Margetson-Rushmore, LEA ceo, says: “We know that not everything is sweet and rosy in the VLJ ‘air taxi’ garden but we also know that these aircraft are a very important element of business aviation. You have to be realistic. It is impractical to expect to achieve 1,000 hours a year on these short-range aircraft, as was once hoped. That’s the equivalent of five hours every working day, for 48 weeks a year. If we could achieve that kind of usage, we’d be able to retire soon! But that doesn’t mean the VLJ revolution has failed. “Over the last 20 months we have achieved an average of 360 hours per annum per aircraft and, especially with the economic downturn, we’re very happy with these figures. These aircraft have a vital role to play in the future development of our sector.” He says: “The overall reliability of the Mustang has improved with later deliveries, as you might expect.” Galanopoulos adds: “CSE Citation Centre, based in Bournemouth in the UK, provides us with great support. The aircraft has been designed for simple maintenance and the 400-hour maintenance intervals help reduce time spent ferrying the aircraft backwards and forwards to and from the maintenance base. The dispatch reliability is reasonable, although there are ongoing issues like the aircraft battery, which has caused some engine hot starts. We have made Cessna aware of this matter and we hope the issue will be resolved soon. “Cessna has good availability of spares for all their aircraft. The Mustang is no exception. But the shipping of spares from the US could greatly improve and should happen overnight, not over two days. We’re continuing to discuss this matter with Cessna. The aircraft offers reasonable value for money, although of course with the large drop in used aircraft values, the Mustang has become a less attractive proposition for new buyers. Nonetheless, the low operating costs will still keep the Mustang ahead of the competition.” Galanopoulos says that LEA would love to see an increase in the range and payload of the Mustang. “Flying from the UK, with a payload of four passengers, the Mustang is just capable of reaching parts of the Mediterranean, mid-Spain and Italy. An increase in range of, say, 150-200 miles would therefore be highly desirable.”

LEA’s Mustang

Margetson-Rushmore says the Mustang is making a positive contribution to conventional air chartering, offering low-cost travel that ensures the industry remains relevant despite the weak economy. “We have always believed in the logic of smaller business jets, but with 14 years’ charter experience we have a good sense of when customers want to fly,” Margetson-Rushmore maintains. “They want to leave early in the morning and return late in the evening, and hopefully they’ll make extra stops during the day. But that is a world away from a high utilisation model that will rack up 1,200 hours per aircraft in a year. To us, a more realistic target is 400-600 hours,

OCTOBER 2009 13


Blink, which has opened in Geneva, has a pan-European business plan. Pictured are Capt Andrew Collicott, first officer Chris Allan, director of flight operations Capt Dougie Gass and Capt Martin Lewis.

and does that make you an air taxi firm or just a charter operator? We find it hard to know where a line could be drawn.” But he says the Mustang has enabled LEA to cut charter rates by up

to 40 per cent, a major saving by any standard. “If nothing else, these smaller aircraft have substantially enhanced the competitiveness of conventional air charter and I am convinced they will play an

important role in expanding the charter market in the years to come.” Margetson-Rushmore adds: “The low operating cost of the Mustang means that we can now offer jet charter prices to people in the Oxford


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region for the equivalent cost of a turboprop. The Mustang is perfect for the kind of short haul flights with one to three passengers that dominate European business aviation.” Popular Mustang destinations include Dublin, Paris and Geneva, although one LEA Mustang has travelled as far as Tel Aviv. Triple Alpha’s Hans Pfeiffer has chalked up more than 750 hours on the Mustang since January last year. He says: “We had some issues with the software in the early days. These were resolved with revision 16 of the Garmin software and the Mustang now works just fine.” Pfeiffer says that the Mustang is the ideal aircraft for small families to go on holiday and good for the needs of a few executives working to busy Continued on page 14


14 OCTOBER 2009

ME & MY AIRCRAFT Continued from page 13

schedules in Europe. “The average flight we make for our clients is around 80 minutes as Düsseldorf is within reach of most of the European capitals where our clients wish to do business. The Mustang has the advantage that it can land on a very short runway and this makes it easy to land our clients very near where they want to go. The Mustang also enables us to be very competitive on the charter price and attract clients who would not otherwise consider a private jet. “Once they enjoy the advantages of the Mustang, many think in terms of chartering a larger jet. We are in financial discussions to bring two more Mustangs into service later in 2009 or early in 2010. Triple Alpha is sticking to its aircraft management

Grossmann: Mustang is perfect match.

The Phenom: increasingly coming onstream.

business model which has served us and our clients well.” Pfeiffer says that Triple Alpha, in whom Ocean Sky has purchased a majority stake (EBAN September

2009), will look at adding the Phenom 100 to its fleet. “To my mind this aircraft is a trade-up from the Mustang. Some may class the Phenom as a VLJ but I regard it as a

light jet with the additional room that will appeal to many clients introduced to private jets through the Mustang. The Phenom 100 and future aircraft to come including the Hondajet, should not be classified as VLJs as they are both bigger and more capable like the CitationJet or CJ1.” He adds: “There needs to be a replacement for the popular older four-seat configured CitationJets. A jet of similar size that comes with modern design and avionics will find a ready market.”

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But he says that the Mustang performs far better than the very conservative aircraft manual promises. “The hype that came along with the introduction of the VLJs was exaggerated, but the only serious product in this class is the Mustang. It is highly likely that this will remain unchanged for a long-time.” Bernhard Fragner of GlobeAir, which is celebrating the one-year milestone of full operation of its Mustang fleet, is adding a fifth Mustang. “We are one of the largest homogeneous Mustang pure air taxi operators in Europe,” he says. GlobeAir welcomed its 1,500th satisfied passenger in mid-July following the launch of its commercial AOC operations last September. Fragner adds: “GlobeAir reached its 2,000th fleet flight hour in August.” Czech private jet operator Grossmann Jet Service (GJS) has counted a Mustang as part of its fleet since the end of 2008. “The aircraft was the first VLJ registered in the Czech Republic, and is doing quite well,” says ceo Dagmar Grossmann. The Mustang addition to the fleet followed an analysis after feedback from owners. Grossmann says: “First we have to make sure the owner is the right fit for our company’s structure, and secondly we make sure the aircraft itself fits into our portfolio. In this case, the Mustang was a perfect match with our current fleet. We can serve a completely different segment of customers. In terms of pricing, it is very attractive to clients, and, as we’ve based it abroad for the most part, we’ve been able to be more flexible in terms of destinations.” She says that the Mustang is like a flying computer and its instruments are fine-tuned and state-of-the-art. “It is able to land on shorter runways, and through its capabilities we’ve found yet another market in which we can successfully compete. Many new opportunities opened up for us.

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The ICM Group, which includes ICM Aviation and Inter-Continental Management Limited, says it handled the complex arrangement for the importing, registration and corporate ownership of the first European registered Phenom 100 to land at Ronaldsway airport on the Isle of Man. “It flew from Sao Paulo, Brazil, on 31 May this year,” says director Mark Byrne. The Phenom 100 is registered as M-INXY and owned by local company Midland Aviation Limited. Byrne says: “It’s always a special occasion when one of our managed holding companies’ aircraft or yachts arrive on the island but in a year when we are celebrating our own 25th anniversary, it’s extra special to get a European first for the Island. We have seen unprecedented interest in aircraft registration in the Isle of Man and this is another feather in the cap for the Isle of Man aircraft registry.”


OCTOBER 2009 15

Peter Leiman of Blink, Patrick Margetson-Rushmore of LEA and Stefan Vilner, JetBird at the VLJ conference. Photo: James Bourne.

For example in late October we’re launching a new project on the Austrian market which is tailored for the Mustang. “This will also bring the opportunity for a support role from one of our other aircraft, the Hawker 900. I would also liken the Mustang to a flying car in that it’s meant for short trips to nearby destinations.” Grossmann says the Mustang’s operation and costs are “very satisfying.” In terms of maintenance, she says, GJS has had a good experience. “This particular Mustang has been running very smoothly. We’ve been lucky, we had to do some adjustments after the pre-sale inspection, but this went off without a hitch. We cooperate with a maintenance facility in Austria and Germany and we are satisfied with that partnership. “The only issue is that the Mustang requires a skilled aviation expert as its instruments are largely computerised. So in the event that the system has a problem, it’s largely an IT issue. But we’ve not had any serious problems with it in the past year we’ve been flying it.” From the clients’ perspective, Grossmann adds, the best aspect is the price and the aircraft’s flexibility. “As an operator, we benefit from the competitive edge it gives us for chartered flights. The Mustang can compete not only in its class, but also against mid-size jets. The disadvantage we have is the smaller range. “Personally, I was always worried about the fact that there is no toilet, but my concerns were negated by the short distances it flies and the great price. “The Mustang allows us to offer a service that has a huge advantage for clients and that is a flexible alternative to the strictly scheduled commercial flight times. The Mustang is already very well established on the market, and has generated a great amount of confidence among the companies and clients using it.” But she feels that the addition of a toilet and an expansion of the luggage space would be desirable upgrades. “Having said that I believe the Mustang itself is a

perfect fit in its class and a strong competitor among the group of VLJs.” Blink has opened a Geneva hub, its first base in Europe, to target a pan-European customer base after initially launching in London in June 2008. Peter Leiman, co-md, says: “The next-generation four-seat Mustang offers all the benefits of personal air travel at prices competitive with commercial business class and up to 50% less expensive than existing

Smart Air is billed as the first DJet fractional ownership offering.

private jet services.” He says seven of the 30 Blink jets on order are already in service. “Blink has been serving clients in Switzerland from its base in London since the arrival of its first Mustang but the opening of a base in Geneva will allow Blink to offer clients flying into and out of Geneva and the nearby region greater value and an enhanced service.” Blink will provide the Geneva market with dedicated aircraft. Cameron Ogden, comd, says: “Geneva is a key commercial and financial centre that suffers from expensive airfares, overpriced private jet alternatives, and inefficient air links. “But its importance as a business centre is growing rapidly as evidenced by the significant increase in companies and individuals relocating. Until now, Swiss business travellers have had to endure inefficient and expensive scheduled services or hire a six to eight seat private jet. When the average number of passengers on a private jet in Europe is just over two, it is clear that travellers have been wasting money and burning fuel unnecessarily.” Blink raised $30m in equity funding and says the development of its destination network and the increase of its fleet through to 2013

will attract large numbers of travellers. Leiman says the Mustang dispatch rate is very high. “The performance of the aircraft has been very favourable in terms of fuel burn and has done better than original estimates given by the manufacturer. Spare parts is something Cessna are always looking to improve to support our business and the European support has dramatically improved. The authorised service network is unparalleled by any other manufacturer. Upgrades could be made to the transponders to allow visual tracking of aircraft.” Italy’s expanding MustFly, part of the Aeroservices Group, has chosen the Mustang for its fleet development. It has ordered 18 Mustangs for delivery by 2012. “They will be marketed for fractional ownership and also traditional air taxi,” says the company’s Riccardo Filippi. “We truly believe that this is a good time for proactive small to medium companies to win business in the private aviation sector.” But other aircraft are being targeted at the VLJ marketplace. Smart Air’s Stéphane Ledermann says the company was established in 2007 with the objective of offering more affordable business aviation better tailored to European market demand. “Business research has shown that 90% of all European business aviation flights are trips of less than 1.5 hours and flown by either three passengers or less. Therefore, our choice fell on the D-Jet of Diamond Aircraft which will enable us to drastically reduce costs thanks to its size and technology. “Our concept ‘sized-toyour-needs’ allows us to offer our services for a fraction of the price that other business aviation companies offer, including fractional ownership operators. We are the first operator to have introduced a basic level entry scheme with add-on options, allowing owners to choose the exact level of service they require. A unique three tariff-zone system for Europe is another Continued on page 16

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ME & MY AIRCRAFT Continued from page 15

innovation within the sized-to-yourneeds concept.” Smart Air awaits the delivery of its first eight jets in the second half of 2010. “We are touring different events and fairs with a mock-up of the jet so that our potential customers can gain a good idea of the aircraft.” Ledermann says that the company will pay detailed attention to the dispatch rate, maintenance support, availability of spare parts, value and effectiveness of operations. Smart Air is billed as the first fractional ownership solution with the D-Jet. “It offers a unique way of travelling in Europe, guaranteeing its customers 100% availability and the choice of 1,835 airports in Europe starting from a share of only 10%. The clients own the aircraft; we take care of everything else ranging from maintenance, logistics, pilot training and security,” Ledermann adds. The concept led to Ledermann being the first Luxembourg company owner ever to be among the last three world finalists of the international Creative Young Entrepreneur Award (CYEA). He won second prize out of a selection of 145 candidates from 18

Grossmann Jet Service is “very satisfied” with the Mustang’s operation and costs.

different countries and is participating in the final round this November during the JCI World Congress in Hammamet, Tunisia. Ledermann says: “I always believed 200% in my business idea and the vision of Smart Air. But my special thanks goes to my shareholders for believing in this project and helping me to realise the early start-up stage, to my team who turned this project with me into a young company when celebrating the


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Triple Alpha: good demand for the Mustang.

acquisition of our first customer and it goes now to the members of the JCI for recognising the potential and making it one of the most recognised innovative companies worldwide.” Meanwhile FlairJet will be among those spearheading competition from the Phenom in the UK. Capt. David Fletcher, ceo, has been undergoing type-rating in Dallas, while two other newly recruited pilots have been training at Burgess Hill with CAE. In the run up to commercial launch the company has named two new management positions: Mike Chamberlain, ground operations director, and David Taylor, operations manager. The two, both ex-Jet Options managers, join flight operations director and chief pilot Gerry Rolls, who will also be a training

captain on the Phenom. FlairJet pledges that it will offer a personalised, quality service that will evolve the traditional air taxi’s “pitch up and fly” culture. “With a range of 1,160 nm (with reserves) FlairJet will focus on easy to reach cities in mainland Europe, domestic UK routes and also Scotland and Ireland,” says Fletcher. “The advantages of the cutting edge entry level jet technology, affordability and superlative style of the Phenom 100, including stylish interiors from BMWDesignWorks USA, will give us a real edge over other jet operators,” he says. FlairJet is also setting out to target travellers who wouldn’t usually consider private charter because they perceive it is too expensive, or are too intimidated by the process. The timing of the global recession has not been kind to VLJ operators who are likely to have to continue to work very hard for returns over the next few years. LEA now operates six Mustangs alongside six other classes of larger business jet. Margetson-Rushmore warns: “For operators like ourselves, I think it will

be a long haul to success for VLJ air taxi operations, which mainly depends on the marketplace and the development of the customer base. But we at LEA are committed to that long-haul effort, and we will probably expand our fleet with more Mustangs and Embraer Phenom 100s. We’ll achieve that expansion through our established ‘hybrid’ business model. Some of the aircraft we will own ourselves and charter, some of the aircraft we will manage for third parties and charter, and some of the aircraft we will simply manage for the owners.” He adds: “We see our Mustangs as our new entry-level jet – a stepping stone for our clients into the world of private flight, bringing down the cost and opening up the opportunities to a wider audience. The Mustang is perfect for the kind of short-haul flights with one to three passengers that dominate European business aviation. And pilots tell us that the Mustang is fun to fly, light and agile, with a great use of space and good overall performance.”

Manufacturer’s comment Mark Paolucci, Cessna’s svp customer service, says: “Cessna has a long history of responsive customer service, borne out in numerous thirdparty surveys. We understand there will always be issues with our aircraft and we are dedicated to designing and building quality and reliability into our products and then providing the level of after-the-sale service our customers expect. As for specific issues referenced by our customers, we have taken a number of steps in remedy. “With hot starts, for instance, Cessna published several owner advisories and Informational Service Letter 510-80-01 to introduce a new procedure to help the aircraft start more efficiently, dramatically reducing the occurrence of hot starts. At the same time, Cessna is exploring new battery technologies that are yielding promising initial results, and new full authority digital engine control (FADEC) software that will limit the inter-turbine temperature (ITT) during starts and

VLJs bound for continental Europe advised how to avoid taxing UK problems Operators and owners arriving at Wichita in the United States or in Brazil to collect their Mustang or Phenom face a problem. “They suddenly realise that they have no raft or immersion suits for their journey across the North Atlantic to their European destination,” says Andrew Bruce, director of Far North Aviation Ltd based in Wick airport, Caithness, Scotland. Many decided to rent Far North Aviation equipment at Goose Bay returning it at Wick en route to their European base. But Bruce, who says such business is increasing, also advises VLJ operators to carefully check the UK tax formalities. Far North Aviation is approved by Customs and Immigration to issue a Transit Declaration (T1) to cover the sector from UK to a nominated country of import or next transit location in the European Union which releases the aircraft from any tax liabilities in the UK. Bruce says: “Here at Wick we are a genuine one-stop-shop providing handling, fuelling and flight planning as well as Customs and Excise. The typical turnaround time for say a Citation en route from US to Europe is 25 minutes.” Carol Dicker of Customs and International based in Southend

Far North Aviation: fast turnaround service.

says the company has been receiving a number of enquiries concerning the obligation to make a customs declaration in respect of non-EU civil aircraft which land for refuelling in the UK. This is as their first point of entry into the EU prior to landing in another EU member state for either importation into the EU or further refuelling before re-exiting the EU. “In view of these enquiries we consulted HM Revenue & Customs Solicitor’s Office to confirm the correct legal requirements. “These enquiries confirmed that such aircraft need to be brought under customs control in the UK. If

the aircraft is not being entered for importation into the UK, ie to free circulation, Temporary Importation or to another Customs procedure or Customs-approved treatment or use in the UK, it may refuel for a limited period of time without making an import entry into the UK. However, if this is the case, a Community Transit (CT) declaration is required to suspend the payment of import duties and other charges (eg VAT) until the aircraft arrives at the final office of destination in the EU.” But the CT procedure is not required where aircraft are used as the means of transport to carry goods and/or passengers.


an improved digital generator control unit (DGCU).” Paolucci adds: “The availability of service and parts in Europe as the Citation fleet grows is a major initiative for Cessna. Over the last year-and-a-half, Cessna has begun a three-phased initiative to improve support. First, we significantly bolstered our inventory at our Paris Service Center, which provides inventory oncontinent to support sameday and next-day requirements. Secondly, we augmented the collective existing inventory holdings of our 11 European-based authorised facilities and we are working with them to

OCTOBER 2009 17

develop a means to share visibility of inventory held at each of the independently owned and operated locations. To complete the third phase, Cessna has entered into a partnership with Bell Helicopter to stock parts for all Citations at the Bell Distribution Center at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam. The aim of this new partnership is to dramatically reduce the time it takes to get critical parts to our customers. These three initiatives taken as a whole greatly expand the inventory levels available to support customers in Europe, the Middle East and Africa and also significantly reduce the

transit time. Shipments from this facility should begin within the next 30 days.” Paolucci says: “It is important to note here we are adding a second companyowned Citation Service Center in Europe, this one in Valencia. Together with our authorised service facilities, our European service network is without peer. Cessna is very pleased with the acceptance of the Mustang in Europe, especially in on-demand fleets and VLJ ‘Air Taxi’ service and is totally committed to the success of these valued customers through ever-improving Mustang reliability and superior customer support.”

Archie Gardner, Edwin Brenninkmeyer and Michael Ricks of Oriens Advisors at the VLJ conference.

VLJ operators fine tune business plans and look to partnerships Some VLJs operators believe the future lies in partnerships that offer clients a mix of aircraft. Collaboration plans, highlighted at the justconcluded VLJ Europe conference at London Oxford airport, received a mixed reaction. Newly-formed Cambridgebased company Ambeo announced the launch of Jetworld Alliance, together with Swiss-based Privatair and Dutch company Sky Taxi. The companies say they are joining forces to ensure the client has access to all types of aviation requirements through a single source. The plan also reflects the general consensus that each customer’s requirements will be different. Time will tell which business models bring the greatest success with the dangers highlighted by the disappointments of Eclipse and Dayjet. LEA favours a hybrid approach enabling a combination of owner manager and charter usage while Blink targets high utilisation hours. Stefan Vilner ceo of Cologne-based JetBird which is basing its offering on a large fleet of Phenom 100s and 300s, says the company’s main driver was the business aviation community requirement to save time. But LEA’s ceo Patrick MargetsonRushmore said: “The industry expectation several years ago that VLJs would bring low cost business aviation has not

The Phenom: growing presence in the VLJ market.

happened. There is currently no large multi-location VLJ operator actually operating in Europe.” Matthijs de Haan of Aviation Result says that, despite a challenging year, there is more customer awareness and operator knowledge of what clients want. Gabriella Somerville of ConnectJets says that part of her team’s work is to educate the consumer and give them support to maximise their buying power. Connectjets works as an intermediary between client, charter broker and operators. Edwin Brenninkmeyer of Oriens Advisors, specialist consultants, believes the VLJ market is in a state of “evolution, not revolution” and when the recession lifts there will be a strong role for the VLJ/light jet sector. Steve Jones, md of London Oxford Airport, says airports must get to know VLJ operator requirements, Eurocontrol needs to integrate them into existing air traffic routes, academies need to understand crew requirements and operators, and owners and purchasers must take the time

to understand the complexity and the infrastructure around purchasing, operation and maintenance. Differentials between the light jet and VLJ sectors have become blurred. Gates and Partners suggested that, as VLJ was viewed as a dirty word by some banks and lending institutions, there was merit in renaming the event to include the existing light jets, including the larger Embraer Phenom 300 and the Grob Spn, should that programme be revived. Delegates, who were told by Hondajet sales director Nicholas Newby that the jet starts certification flying in January, agreed to change the conference focus to Light Jets Europe. There was a belief that VLJs have weathered the tough times and that the sector, and private aviation, has grounds for optimism in the future. “Like a teenage party, we have seen only those with the strongest constitutions survive through to the dawn,” remarked Alan Perry, chairman of MIU events, organiser of this year’s VLJ Europe conference. Alex Hendriks, deputy director of Eurocontrol, predicted that 2010 would see a slight improvement in movement numbers and emphasised that while the recession had been deeper than anticipated, current movements were still higher than year 2000 indicating the market is still strong.


18 OCTOBER 2009


Vibroair adds Legacy 600 and plans Phenom boost

N E W S . . .

AEREA Aviacion has opened a business centre within its Malaga FBO, incorporating meeting rooms and office services.

Aerea provides clients with ‘business headquarters’

Harrods welcomes immigration staff

Cairncross steers Middle East fleet

Aerea AviaciĂłn General Y Ejecutiva SL says a new service at MĂĄlaga airport will allow executive and general aviation clients to develop their business activities within the FBO building. The company says its 350 sq m business centre will provide facilities including offices tailored to individual requirements, an office virtual business address, and meeting rooms for activities ranging from training courses to a video conference. It adds: “The service will allow clients to monitor all the steps taken by the workplace staff on their behalf ranging from calls, visits, deliveries and mail etc, at any time of the day and anywhere in the world.â€?

Harrods Aviation at Luton now hosts dedicated immigration staff between 0600 and 2200, bringing the FBO in line with its Stansted sister facility.

The entry-level Citation Mustang has joined other Cessna models, the Citation X, Sovereign, CJ3, CJ2+ and CJ1+, in achieving certification in Russia. More than 200 are now in service worldwide.

Quintin Cairncross has recently joined ExecuJet Middle East as operations director and is overseeing the company’s managed aircraft fleet in the region. Previously with the South African Air Force, South African Airways and Emirates, Cairncross holds TRE and Instructor ratings and has more than 13,000 flight hours. He spent a brief period with Grob Aerospace in the role of director of flight training before joining ExecuJet in 2008.

Charter operators join forces

High speed internet for all Falcons

Ambeo plc (UK), Privatair (Switzerland) and Sky-Taxi (Netherlands) are to cooperate to maximise aircraft availability under an alliance dubbed Jetworld.

Dassault is to offer Aircell’s high speed internet system aboard its full range of business jet models. The Axxess system is said to provide connectivity equivalent to mobile broadband to passengers via Wi-Fi.

Citation celebrates forty years

Gulfstream rolls out G650

Emivest delivers first SJ30 Emivest Aerospace Corporation has delivered the first SJ30 light jet in its own right, which has become the third SJ30 in service. The US owner is reported to be delighted with the performance of the aircraft, which he has patiently awaited for four years.

FBO opens in Cornwall Midwest Executive Aviation Limited, the FBO provider at Newquay Cornwall Airport, has recently opened a new FBO facility there, with direct apron access. The facility offers crew and passenger lounge area, crew rest facilities, wireless broadband, crew flight planning desk and unlimited complimentary car parking.

Mustang certified in Russia

Cessna has marked the fortieth anniversary of a milestone event when, on September 15, 1969, the prototype of the first Cessna Citation took to the air. The company had unveiled a mockup of the aircraft in October 1968, originally calling it the Fanjet 500, at a price of about $695,000. Days before the prototype’s first flight, Cessna settled on a more distinctive name for the jet – Citation – to evoke the extraordinary combination of abilities that propelled the thoroughbred racehorse by the same name to win the elusive Triple Crown in 1948.



Gulfstream has rolled out its new flagship business jet, the G650. The aircraft moved under its own power and remains on schedule for customer deliveries in 2012. The G650 is wider, taller and larger and has longer range than any other Gulfstream model, is capable of travelling 7,000 nm at 0.85 Mach, and has a maximum operating speed of 0.925, which will make it the fastest civil aircraft flying. It seats 11-18 passengers and features 16 panoramic windows that measure 28 by 20.5 inches, the largest in the industry; improved sound levels; a vacuum toilet system; and in-flight access to the baggage compartment.



Vibroair Flugservice says it has brought the first Legacy 600 into service in North Rhine Westphalia – one of just four in Germany that are fully available for international private charter (see front page photo). The company’s ceos Michael and Klaus Viehof say the aircraft ranks as one of the most modern super midsize jets and is extremely popular thanks to the outstanding comfort and spaciousness it affords. The generous cabin with three elegant private areas and two separate washroom amenities provides, they say, stylish surroundings for up to 13 passengers with headroom of 1.83 m and a length of 12.95 m. “Passengers enjoy the comfort both when working productively or while relaxing and enjoying themselves. The hold of this elegant jet is exceptionally large with a capacity of 6.8 cubic metres. We are very proud to be the first operator of this model in North Rhine Westphalia. Groups of sports enthusiasts such as golfers and hockey teams or bands of musicians will benefit from the huge space and the attractive non-stop cruising range of over 6,000 km (3,240 nm) The value for money offered by our Legacy 600 will open up a whole new range of possibilities for businesses from the region and for private individuals.� Ulrich Sigmann, accountable manager, explains: “Our passengers can take off on an ad hoc basis for

The Legacy 600.

interesting destinations like the United Arab Emirates, London or, with just one stopover, New York, on board one of the most modern executive jets, which satisfies the highest of standards. Clients will find the 2009 model provides ideal conditions for working and relaxation with its cruising speed of 850 kph and a further reduced noise level. “The conference area allows passengers to hold meetings or conference calls without being disturbed: guests can enjoy their dinner in peace or simply lie down and relax. On top of this, state-of-theart entertainment systems like iPod docking, airshow and CD/DVD players will leave no room for boredom during a long-haul flight.� Vibroair Flugservice says the perfectly equipped galley includes an espresso machine. The company was founded in 1987 as part of AllkaufFlugdienst. It operates two Raytheon Premier 1s and a Gulfstream Astra SP for private charter and courier flights. “There are plans to expand the fleet with two Phenom 300s and one Legacy 500,� Sigmann adds.

DC Aviation Airbus is winning business.

DC Aviation reports an upturn in business levels Germany’s DC Aviation reports that private charter flights are returning to last year’s business levels. Steffen Fries, ceo, says: “The company operated as many flights in July this year as it did in the same month last year. As a result, the number of flights is running at its level before the start of the economic crisis. In July of this year alone, the number of charter flights increased by almost a third in comparison with the previous month.� Fries says business aviation was one of the first industries in which the financial and economic crisis made itself felt. “We were already operating fewer flights in September 2008. There has now been a positive development. Our customers have been returning in the last few weeks and taking advantage of the opportunity to travel with flexibility and time savings. Especially in economically stringent times, it is important for managers to be on location. Furthermore, possible company takeovers are also certainly playing a role in the increase in flying.� The upward trend in demand for charter flights has been apparent at DC Aviation since March this year, he adds, DC Aviation offers aircraft management and maintenance as well as private charter based on around 20 business jets ranging from the short haul

Steffen Fries: improving business.

Learjet 45XR to the long-range Gulfstream 550 and the A319. Fries says: “As business people without a personal jet currently do not want to commit themselves to one business jet operator with long-term contracts or 25 hour jet cards, DC Aviation has developed a special frequent flyer programme for charter customers. In the ‘DC Aviation loyalty club’, flights become less expensive the more frequently a customer flies in central Europe. Furthermore, positioning costs otherwise typical for charter companies will also be waived in the selected ‘loyalty region’.� Headquartered in Stuttgart, DC Aviation GmbH, came into being in 2008 as a result of the merger of Cirrus Aviation and DaimlerChrysler Aviation.


OCTOBER 2009 19


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Sloane proves one Bell that beat two halve s s



July 2002


Sloane 206B Helicopter helicopter s has after to its added a Bell what AOC in director operationa the UK Paul Forster “very l services long, registration laborious described and painfulas a .” The repotentialcompany additionfirst spotted months in Greece the ago. on a “We trip were 12 company and noticed over there two aircrafthad started a charter to cannibalis to flying. We thenkeep one of e both machines put a silly their fleet on it,” he said. and they bid in for took us The project up out to make of one aircraft designatedthe parts was for any Sloane’s initially spare-time engineers But after had. that a particularl it was y busy workers decided should that a coupleyear the completio be point n. “Fromdedicated of to the builders’ smoothly,of view any real particularl it went y as there very urgency. “It was wasn’t only finished after around the work that it four became months had Greek a nightmare ago bureacrac documenta y regardingdue to tion. 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Air Entre offers longprise flights with haul Falcon its 900







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Air to the hangar Entreprise and a has its a large private Le Leeds-Bradf terminal combined Bourget, ord based at Paris maintenan with Multiflight handling base, will be Poisson ce departmen the first and ts. said: working UK owner ”We on expansion are of a BBJ2 yet to currently when decide plans, the green to put what but have level of aircraft in. investmen is handed “The over at t strong French charter the end and not of September. by economic particular market See full feel variables, ly affectedis that story More on page the so we affected than 12 don’t by the investmen two and elapsed t will US slow The a since be a VFW-614 Muk Air half years market company has down.” have has remained found aircraft started register. explained: With that the With TCAS on the putting stable, the aircraft “The very Werjefeldregard to Danish Poisson private special, the vip is now recently installed, and passenger says jet market main small available number as it only strengths one of the market, Ruben for freight charter land on Conseque of people concerns is and if aircraft’s lies Werjefeldt but you a tried world “In an short its ability introduce ntly it’s the plane, consider in , he’d says owner the square to He told how longthe first place never difficult wide. loaded, 18-seat configurat although new ideas and ACJ.” it’s only have EBAN: area it onto the beaten to fractional CitationI can land at appears He said: was going if he’d known ion fully by the of market, Air Taxi Asked to take. any airport to be II can BBJ somewhat “It’s has purchased down succeeding ownership customers whether The company been from that a as short land at. potential a long problems political Regourd .” We market may a King as 800 an old operations has to be metres can get Air 200 Aviation. aircraft, fret over the charter included which we fight. Early and and believes relativelyfound the aircraft if we Florent manager had to Werjefeld safety on, sales Ground are maintenan both buoyant said: “The of overcome “The it will same has been Jean said: King support price continue also, maintaine "The company way Pierre Air of being “It took ce issues. as the Flight; to grow. perfectly. because and d in the chose pushed aircraft it convince me a year is currently the US market, down normal everything British Queen’s around The range suits our and a Airbus by the needs life-cycle.” has been since which Europe half deflated to then, cabin 1,500 nauticalof the aircraft In terms has knocked halfover the cooperate to holds half, they he said. and increased confident of economics passenger between miles and is but last year onto have been the seven “During demand,” the 614 that for and a configurati s, depending very supportive and nine the right, Muk Air is could an educated the certificatio on.” Werjefeld present customer, upon Air Taxi Squirre crew the loss n process,. our explained: a huge it with is based and operates of revenuewent elsewhere An example Greek l hops betwee business digit “If you saving. in Tours, similar numbers. by MukAir of the concentra went compare and as a charter islands France capability aircraft which VFW-614, going into sevenn for charter. If I’d ting want to take client company now offered solely and to offer base. tried this long, known it light on a of the go somewhere space, and Geneva The company made to – I’d never was French runway you attractive do it. Page 4 a where 46,000 which is the price might There internationumber has already have 604 to manage unheard the size pound things be an of is half Muk aircraft.” you can are more roster rs add ask. A The incentive of for issue, cross-channal flights,domestic Air’s what Global then do.” a configured and 614 aircraft 614, Falcon particular Express, others would Inverness nel, including: for says 900 would passenger to accommod Werjefeld, vips to PC12 Gulfstream there. ly can be getting Customers fly in and Page 6 “It all Oxford, s or does a freight. or he said. has a fully grows fractional for the ate 18 or Farnborou Tropez. down on have a challenge are from stand-upnot end scheme Helmut purposes 44 La Maule corporategenerally apace hopes It is the latter gh. 614 a I’m half I don’t have vips, ranging individual cabin,” Kohl to pursue lot more which of executives any problemin St the Werjefeldt Muk Air s and “You have before preferred the French “Converseprice. to private Venerab the Challenger : “There’s the most. and celebrities freight. have an internatioly, if strong charter market a hot a big first class If you’re less troubleSaid you’re . “The operato le helicopt Page 8 s. have at the stand-up oven, refrigerato considerin compare delayed, seat, is to nal know moment. not in er you trip, passengerbook hotel toilet three r clocks what you tables we couldn’tg with three I don’t very rs, large climate has led and up million where rooms don’t s; if aircraft. any really one you wanted. you couldbig mahogany to the miles, for vomits; it is a little of these of the but it is possibly With present play roulette US market,” turboprop, bumpy, 44 1,300 we’re and for the “In the When German nautical no interconti way no one if you fly if explainedinfluence Page business asked people for intra-Euro nental too wants chosen in why the Cheyen broker offers 10 who want jet market, Florent. short a refund.” a more range very competitiv pean ne II for purchasea particular company the extra it’s for than you but trips, had JET, it’s an aircraft, ly slow space. have sale “If a e.” Muk Air we’d time in larger It’s a be company Plus our Dornier Florent to has been than sufficient Page 14 replied: 328 the Gulfstream on a another 614 Danish full years number cannot offer charter and will US register which has review of aircraft a Danish elsewherethen customers soon for two register. be added for . We despite will look bought to the Page 16 the aircraft we are market conditions - 18 hoping in demand and expecting, because in the foreseeable for a rise future.”

Leed UK’s firs awaits

st BB ‘Supre J2 me finally ly-maintain joins Dan ed’ VFW ish reg -614 Air Taxi starts ister fleet build -up with King Air


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European Business Air News - October 2009  

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