Hendell Aviation, Europe’s largest commercial operator of the Pilatus PC-12, plans to more than double its fleet by the end of the year, as demand for the single-engined turboprop continues to grow across the region.
The company, headquartered in Helsinki, Finland, has a fleet of six PC-12s, with the most recent example added on 5 March. It expects to increase this figure to “at least 13 before the end of the year,” says Hendell director Mikael Lees.
He attributes the rapid fleet growth to rising acceptance of the Swiss-built seven-seater within the charter market. This is thanks largely to the European Aviation Safety Agency’s approval in March 2017 permitting commercial flights in single-engine turbine aircraft at night and under instrument meteorological conditions (SET-IMC). “This approval has given the PC-12 more exposure within the charter community, particularly among brokers, who like the aircraft’s large cabin and its ability to operate from short, unpaved runways," says Lees.
He notes that while many EU states such as Finland, France and Spain had already permitted SET-IMC operations before the EASA ruling, key markets such as the UK did not. “We can now operate EU-wide, and our plan is to establish a base in the UK – ideally in the London-area – before the end of the year,” he says.
Hendell launched operations in 2004, providing sightseeing operations with a single float-equipped Cessna 206. The first PC-12 was introduced to the fleet in 2013, and a year later Hendell established an operations base in “the more central location” of Lausanne, Switzerland, where the majority of its fleet is now based.
“Although the PC-12’s sweet spot is around 600nm [1,110km], our PC-12s fly average legs of 250nm, around a 1h duration,” Lees says.