The UK’s East Anglian Air Ambulance charity organization and its helicopter operator, Bond Air Services, have been allowed to fly emergency medical service missions at night, using night-vision goggles. The charity believes that it will be able to conduct approximately 30 percent more missions, helping an estimated 300 more patients a year. Special equipment also includes a powerline detection system.
Aviation in the United Kingdom
The Air Elite FBO network now numbers 30 locations worldwide with the addition of UK-based Harrods Aviation and the UAE’s Royal Jet. An offshoot of the group that owns the London department store, Harrods Aviation operates facilities at London Stansted and Luton Airports with luxurious guest and discrete VIP lounges, workstations, conference facilities and select Harrods merchandise. In addition to the standard crew amenities, the Stansted facility offers two private crew bunk rooms. Both locations can handle private bizliner-class aircraft, up to a Boeing 747-400 in Stansted’s case.
Prague, Czech Republic-based Aviation Service, a Bell Helicopter service facility, has been granted expanded and updated terms of its design organization approval from EASA. The expansion of the DOA certification allows Aviation Service to perform major changes on the primary structure and cabin interior on all Bell helicopter models.
Oxford Airport, located at Kidlington (just north of the “Dreaming Spires” of the famous university town), has continued to experience growth in business aviation traffic. An 11-percent increase in business traffic during 2012, up from 6,913 movements in 2011 to 7,761, has also contributed to a 13-percent rise in jet fuel sales. This traffic increase has cemented Oxford’s position as the London region’s fifth busiest business destination and the fastest growing.
Signature Flight Support (Booth 364) is again handling all helicopter traffic in and out of Gatwick Airport after the helicopter aiming point (HAP) re-opened earlier this month. The development means that business and commercial aviation operators will again be able to land at Gatwick without a formal runway landing slot (they will need only an HAP slot, so ATC has prior notification) and without having to taxi on the runway.
This week’s EBACE show will be the second that Fabio Gamba has presided over since becoming chief executive of the European Business Aviation Association (EBAA) in September 2012. He joined the bizav community after serving as deputy general secretary of the Association of European Airlines. The EBAA board specifically wanted to tap the political skills of the powerful airline lobby in a bid to avoid business aviation’s interests being overlooked by European authorities.
New risk and safety management requirements imposed by the European Aviation Safety Agency are continuing to take up a lot of management time at TAG and other aircraft operators. TAG recently became the first business aviation company to achieve EASA’s stage-two requirements for its safety management system.
With the rapid development of China’s economy, business aviation is viewed by many in the country as a so-called “Blue Ocean industry” with vast potential. As estimated by Embraer in its last market forecast, by 2020 China may represent a market for as many as 635 business jets. Bombardier is even more optimistic, projecting a need for almost 1,000 more business jets in the coming decade.
The UK’s air passenger duty (APD) tax, which has been in effect for the airlines for several years, will officially be extended to business aircraft passengers on April 1. APD applies only to aircraft taking off from a UK airport, meaning it is a departure tax, based on the number of chargeable passengers, the distance to their destination and the “class” in which they are traveling.
Avincis is the new name for World Helicopters, a firm that combined the Bond Aviation Group with Inaer when it took over the former last spring. The group, owned by KKR and Investindustrial, operates 400 aircraft, 350 of them helicopters.