Buoyed by EASA’s approval to
allow single-engine turboprops to fly commercially in IFR conditions and at
night, two leading Pilatus PC-12 operators, Hendell Aviation of Finland and
Fly7 of Switzerland, were at EBACE to share their experience with operators
and meet with European airports.
Top of the agenda is a
potential UK base, which Hendell Aviation has identified as ripe for
commercial operations, within the next six months. The UK Civil Aviation
Authority (CAA) has no issue with the plans, according to Hendell Chairman
“Our aim is to create a
bridge between Switzerland, France and the UK,” he said, noting this new
EASA ruling is the passport to broadening its reach. “Considering Finland
has a population of just five million people opportunities are somewhat
limited in our home market,” he asserts. Matti combines his role at Hendell
with flying the Airbus A350 for Finnair, but creating a new industry with
single engine turboprops is his great passion.
Yves Roch, CEO of Fly7 (left)
and Hendell Chairman, Matti Auterinen at EBACE.
Originally signing an
exclusive agreement to work together in 2015, Hendell Aviation and Fly7 are
now doing more business together. Fly7’s CEO
and Hendell’s Matti first met in Lausanne when Matti undertook type rating
and ground course training on the PC-12. From that point on, they agreed to
look for opportunities to pool resources to offer management and operations
expertise to PC-12 owners. Since last year, Hendell’s CEO
who is also heavily engaged in EASA work, has been based in Lausanne and
runs Operations and CAMO services for Fly7.
Fly7, as well as having a
fleet of seven PC-12s, runs a large PC-12 training centre in Europe,
accredited by the US FAA, EASA and JAA. It offers qualifications including
CPL, ATPL and IR and all its instructors fly as commercial executive pilots.
Hendell and Fly7 maintain that good flight training on single-engine
aircraft is going to be the most crucial element of this sector’s success.
as more and more aircraft come under commercial operator AOCs.
Matti Auterinen advocates the
use of a shared simulator with visual flight displays for PC-12 pilots in
Europe, because EASA demands that a single engine turboprop pilot must
achieve more than the minimum number of hours a commercial pilot must attain
(700 hours plus).
With over 10 years’ operating
experience (started already 2004 while involved with humanitarian PC-12
operations in East Africa) on the type, Matti has become a recognized
authority on PC-12 operating procedures and standards and as such has been
able to help EASA define the challenges of SET-IMC and how best to overcome
them. For example, in SETops IMC he will insist on two pilots. “Striving to
adopt the best standards set for the airline industry is another key
objective for us,” he says.
“We have studied the EASA CAT
SET Ops and the document is very solid, enabling a good operating framework
and terrific opportunities for operators,” Matti said, while underlining
that the popularity of the PC-12 and suggesting interest in other SETops
models is growing as a result.
More charter enquiries coming through
Hendell Aviation and Fly7 are
seeing more enquiries about managing PC-12 aircraft as well as a general
upswing in charter demand. “More charter brokers are getting familiar with
these aircraft and the new destinations they are opening up.”
Fly7 CEO Yves Roch adds:
“Consider the PC-12 can access 2,000 airfields in Europe that are not
accessible by jet and at a much more affordable cost. We are confident that
with the new EASA rulings we are going to see a new customer base of people
who had previously dismissed private air charter because of the cost. We are
doing all we can to educate people, especially the savvy entrepreneur
“At Fly7 we are doing our bit
by getting this message out loud and clear with an engaging inter-active
website and a strong pro-active social media presence.”
The heightened collaboration
between these two operators was apparent last winter when Hendell based a
PC-12 in Saanen, Switzerland. This summer it is broadening its charter
offerings from St Tropez, Lausanne and Geneva as well as other airports
around Europe. The two companies also intend to further explore new markets
in medevac, cargo and aerial survey in a nod to the PC-12’s versatility.
“Regional hospitals have a need to transport patients at a reasonable price
when local helicopters and heavy jets are not so suitable,” adds Yves Roch.
Hendell Aviation is also
willing to assist other operators just as they helped GI Aviation with
securing their GCAA AOC. Abu Dhabi Al Bateen Executive Airport-based GI
Aviation is now operational and they look forward to introducing a second
PC-12NG next month.