FLIGHT DEPT PROFILE
London Air motto: "Invest with a long term focus and always buy the best equipment for the job."
IGA grocery stores, drug stores and a resort hideaway allow robust use of bizjets and helos with 3 AW139s, 5 Learjet 75s, 3 Challenger 605s plus on order 5 Learjet 85s and a Global 7000.
Maintenance and scheduling
Maintenance Technician Aaron Norman fine-tunes the setting on a AW139 tail rotor. Here on the west coast, about 80% of AW139 flying time takes place during busy summer months.
Chief Engineer Gordon Dale and his team support AW139 line maintenance and scheduled checks at the LAS YVR facility. The flight department operates from a spacious and well equipped 360 ft by 150 ft hangar complex. This facility is associated with the Esso Avitat at YVR of which LAS is a part owner.
Dispatchers Daryl Shaw and Megan Simpson coordinate LAS operations and charter requests 24/7 using new BART scheduling software. Dispatching and scheduling helicopter charters tend to involve unique challenges says Simpson. "We routinely land off-airport with the AW139s at locations with no ICAO codes, just GPS coordinates.
For any off-airport operation we confirm all trip requests with our pilots. Weather can also be a challenge—particularly during winter months here on the West Coast of Canada when icing conditions are common. A trip from YVR to YAZ (Tofino BC, Canada), on the West Coast of Vancouver Island, is normally .07 hrs but if icing conditions are present we may need to fly around to the south end of the island for a 1.6 hour leg each way.
Since we have de-ice capable rotors on our newest AW139 we now have the flexibility of much better schedule planning and routing predictability. We now have the ability to confirm a wider range of winter AW139 charter requests."
Looking to the future
LAS is part owner of Esso Avitat YVR FBO. The company hanger facility and operating base make up a part of the Avitat complex.
Although the regional and global charter market has been a challenging environment over recent years, LAS has managed to find success in both the worlds of fixed-wing bizjets and helicopter charter, flying in both Part 91 and 135 ops.
"It's necessary to find the right mix of equipment, and the price point you can sell it for, in order to be successful in charter," says Powell. "We originally started in 1999 with a single Learjet 45 and envisioned building up the fleet to 2 Learjet 45s. But, over the years, we've developed a very good customer base due to high levels of safety, service, new equipment and employees with a great team spirit.
We're now flying long-haul fixed wing charters to Australia, the Middle East and Europe and have steady helicopter charter business with excellent utilization of our AW139 fleet. The global business community needs the benefits of corporate aviation and this requirement will not come to an end—it will grow.
We've seen our customer base prosper during tough economic times because the customers we have know how to use business tools including business aviation, effectively. Our objective, here at LAS, is to be the number 1 charter provider in Western Canada. Our Bombardier fixed-wing bizjets and our AugustaWestland AW139 helicopters are a key part of the mix."
Editor-at-Large Grant McLaren has written for Pro Pilot for over 20 years and specializes in corporate flight department coverage.