Paul Derby

Sikorsky has revealed more details of its fledgling fractional ownership programme which will begin operation "within weeks" under the name of Sikorsky Shares.

Using the S-76C+ as the base aircraft, the programme will be launched initially in the North East USA, but there are plans to achieve national coverage eventually.

Instead of being charged for flight hours, as is the case with traditional fractional ownership schemes, Sikorsky customers will be able to buy 'flight units', effectively paying in zones for the distance they travel.

The company says that travel within New York, for example, will cost one unit, with the unit cost rising progressively for longer journeys.

The purchaser of a quarter share in an S-76 will receive 290 flight units, with top-up units available at a set cost, says Sikorsky.

"We're into a service industry here and we need to make this programme as accessible and flexible as possible for our customers," says Mike Moran, director, commercial programme marketing.


"We'll use the northeastern operation as a development laboratory before thinking about going national, but we've certainly had a lot of interest in this area since we made our initial announcement in February. We're excited about the opportunities."

Sikorsky bought S-76 operator AAG, based in New York, earlier this year as a first step towards its debut in the fractional ownership arena.

It will dip into AAG's existing pool of S-76C aircraft to ensure it can meet demand at peak times.

The company says the 'zonal distance' system allows customers to manage their time and travel needs more effectively, since costs are pre-determined by the trip, not flight time.

There is no minimum number of flight hours and maintenance, fuel, professional scheduling and dispatch are included in the pricing package.

Meanwhile, rival Bell Helicopter is looking across the Atlantic to grow sales and is talking to London, UK-based fractional operator First Heli Network about the supply of an undecided number of single-engine machines.

"Geographically speaking, somewhere like the UK is ideally suited to the fractional market," says Jeff Pino, Bell's vice-president of commercial and international military sales.

"The distances are shorter and we believe there is potential to build on the fractional business over there." Pino says that First Heli Network is interested in the 206B JetRanger, the 206L LongRanger and the 407.

Bell has also bought a share in a 430 twin, due to join a new fractional ownership scheme to be operated by Heli Flite of Texas.

Source: Flight Daily News