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EBACE: PC-12 operators eye UK for single-engined charters

Finnish operator Hendell Aviation and Switzerland-based Fly7 have announced plans to expand into the newly opened UK market for commercial flights with single-engined turbine-powered aircraft.

As European regulators come to grips with the impact of EASA’s recent decision to allow single-engined turbine aircraft to carry fee-paying passengers, Finnish charter operators enter the expanded market with a clear advantage, says Hendell chairman Matti Auterinen.

That is because Finland’s Civil Aviation Authority received an exemption from the ban on single-engined turboprop commercial flights in 2013, allowing Hendell to launch operations throughout Europe except for the UK with two Pilatus PC-12s. Since 1 January, Hendell and Fly7 have expanded their managed fleet to five of the Swiss-built seven-seaters within the continental European market. Two more PC-12s are expected to join the combined operation after 1 June.

In March, the UK CAA approved an emailed request to recognise Hendell’s Finnish air operator certificate for commercial single-engined operations, Auterinen says. That means Hendell and Fly7 will not be required to apply for the first AOC granted by the UK CAA itself to such an operator.

For a European operator, Hendell has unusually long experience with flying single-engined turboprops on operational missions. Auterinen, a Finnair Airbus A330 and A350 pilot, started flying PC-12s in 2004 in Kenya on humanitarian relief operations. Starting in 2010, he began working on a plan to apply PC-12s to the European charter market.

Hendell was launched as Finland's exemption made such operations possible. To receive an AOC, Hendell showed how it mitigated the safety risk of a single-engined aircraft by applying Finnair-style cockpit resource management philosophies to the flight crew.

Hendell and Fly7 grew their managed fleet by avoiding high acquisition costs. Instead of buying new or used PC-12s, the operators instead partner with fleet owners or owner-operators, paying them to access their aircraft for up to 500 flight hours per year.

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