Kate Sarsfield/LONDON

Alpha Flying, the only Pilatus PC-12 single-engined fractional ownership provider, has expanded its PlaneSense programme to cover the south-east USA.

"We have been a regional programme until now [based in Nashua, New Hampshire] covering only north-eastern USA. This is the first step in our strategy to become a national programme and we hope to establish a third base within the next 12 months", says Alpha Flying chief executive George Antoniadis.

The company has signed a marketing agreement with fixed-base operator (FBO) and Pilatus Aircraft service centre Epps Aviation, located at Atlanta's DeKalb-Peachtree Airport. The FBO will promote the programme within the region, in conjunction with Alpha Flying.

Antoniadis says: "Our new base is critical to our growth. Our PlaneSense programme now covers the eastern seaboard, from Canada to Cuba. With clients based throughout the region there will be fewer empty flights, which will improve aircraft efficiency".

Antoniadis hopes to introduce six aircraft to the fleet within the next two years, doubling the PlaneSense line-up, and has PC-12 production slots set aside.

Shares in the programme are sold in quarters or eighths. A quarter share in a PC-12 is $814,000, which entitles an owner to 175 flight hours a year. Monthly management fees and occupied flight hours are priced at $7,600 and $543 respectively.

Meanwhile, Pilatus plans to increase production of the PC-12 for the second time in 12 months later this year. This follows an order surge involving 32 of the utility aircraft in the first quarter.

The Swiss manufacturer is producing six PC-12s a month and plans to deliver 67 aircraft this year, up from 55 in 1999. Deliveries are projected to reach 80 next year.

Pilatus booked orders for 80 aircraft in 1999, including 42 in the fourth quarter. Three-quarters of these orders came from customers in North and South America, a trend which continued into the first quarter of this year with the region accounting for 27 of the 32 orders booked.

Parent company Oerlikon Bührle Holdings has shelved the sale of Pilatus, having failed to find a suitable buyer.

Source: Flight International