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MotorSport Vision (MSV), owner and operator of five UK motor sport circuits including Brands Hatch, has chosen a King Air B200GT to enhance business efficiency.
Until now, helicopters have dominated MSV's aviation activities. But MSV ceo Jonathan Palmer is an enthusiastic pilot, holding a CPL(H) IR licence with more than 6,000 hours' experience and flies the company's AS355N intensively on business, visiting its circuits across the UK. Fellow shareholder Sir Peter Ogden also flies extensively and owns an A109 Grand.
Palmer explains: "The B200GT will enhance the efficiency of the company's international business and the decision to acquire it makes even greater sense in the context of the fact that our newly-developed Bedford aerodrome has recently been licensed by the CAA.
"MSV bought the B200GT to give more time efficient travel to European motor racing circuits for its Formula Two race operation and to provide faster access for guests to Bedford Autodrome, home of the PalmerSport driving event and the base for the entire 26 car fleet of Formula Two vehicles."
Palmer says Bedford is a VFR daylight-only airfield with declared distances of around 1,000m on its 30m wide runway. The site is derived from the eastern 1,100 m of the original Royal Aeronautical Establishment runway at Thurleigh, which became redundant after the UK Ministry of Defence closed its activities in 1993.
MSV owns about 800 acres of the airfield and Bedford Autodrome motorsport circuit complex is located on the northern side of the original runway.
Some six miles of track are arranged over four circuits for the PalmerSport motorsport event, at which corporate and private guests drive what is described as an "unrivalled range" of cars flat out over the course of a day. Cars featured include the BMW M3 GTP, Formula Jaguar single seater, Porsche 911 JP3, Clio Cup racer, Caterham 7 and Palmer Jaguar JP1.
Palmer says he is delighted with the new King Air. "Our requirements were challenging - we needed an aircraft capable of transporting six people comfortably to Europe with loads of luggage, as well as up to nine passengers on a shuttle to Bedford from small airfields like Fairoaks, so it had to be capable of operating from as little as 800m runways for public transport operations.
"The B200 is the only aircraft capable of doing this. The latest GT version makes a big difference too - we are getting over 300kts in the cruise and the ability to fly at FL350 to achieve just 450lb/hour fuel flow is valuable to maximise the range to well over 1,000 miles. I also find it has a great travelling environment, with a quiet, spacious cabin, comfortable fully adjustable armchairs, lots of refreshment capacity and a very usable toilet compartment."
The aircraft is also used for third party charter by MSV Air, operating under the Synergy AOC. But Palmer says: "We have no intention of competing on price with some of the older B200s in the charter market operated by very experienced companies, but if someone does value the newest B200GT currently available for charter in the UK we are still a very competitive proposition."
Palmer says that achieving a licence for the airfield was a demanding process. But he adds: "Apart from the fact that we needed the airfield licensed for public transport flights, I am pleased we have been through the process to achieve a professional facility and operation. We were very appreciative of the helpfulness of the CAA's aerodrome standards team who assisted us in achieving the high standards required in a short timescale."
The Bedford Aerodrome, he says, is a great asset to business. "We have the only motor sport circuit in the UK with a licensed airfield adjacent. We can fly our F2 management personnel directly from our team base straight to our European circuit destinations, maximising productivity."