Helicopter fractional ownership and charter company HeliFlite (Booth No. 5424) added a fourth Bell 430 to its fractional fleet in July and plans to add a fifth next summer. Since its founding in 1998, the Newark, N.J.-based company has sold more than 30 one-sixteenth shares in its Bell 430s, with each share providing 50 hours of flight time per year on a five-year contract. HeliFlite offers guaranteed aircraft availability on 12 hours’ advance notice, and for pickups originating within a 125-mile radius of Manhattan, the company does not assess deadhead fees.
“About 90 percent of our flights are within 100 miles of New York City,” HeliFlite president and CEO Cory Brown told NBAA Convention News. “Most of the time we’re picking up customers at an airport like Teterboro and flying them either into one of the Manhattan heliports or out to vacation spots like the Hamptons, Connecticut or New Hampshire.”
Although HeliFlite does operate one Sikorsky S-76 for charter, Brown said the Bell 430 is “the perfect helicopter” for HeliFlite’s short-range executive transport mission. “Our average passenger load is one to two people,” Brown said. “The Bell 430 has excellent ride quality, good handling qualities and is very reliable. Plus the [factory] support is excellent and the aircraft is very efficient to operate.”
According to Brown, shares in this newest Bell 430 cost $360,000, with a management fee of approximately $9,000 and a variable per-hour flight fee that changes with the price of fuel but currently runs about $1,100.
HeliFlite also offers a 25-hour HeliCard program, which provides 25 hours of Bell 430 charter flight time to be used within one year. Unlike standard jet cards, however, the HeliCard offers guaranteed aircraft availability with a 48-hour callout. “So far all of our clients have renewed their HeliCards,” Brown said. “In some cases, the HeliCard program has been an entry into fractional ownership.”