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Business Air News
Business Air News
The monthly news publication for aviation professionals.
The monthly news publication for aviation professionals.

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Twin Squirrel broadens market reach for First City Air
London-based First City Air has acquired an AS355 Twin Squirrel, which will undertake corporate charter and aerial photography work. The helicopter joins an EC120 at Wickham Air Park.

London-based First City Air has acquired an AS355 Twin Squirrel, which will undertake corporate charter and aerial photography work. The helicopter joins an EC120 at Wickham Air Park.\r“As a small company we required an aircraft that is simple to operate but capable of great versatility,” said chief pilot and flight operations director John Daly. \r“We’re not in the big helicopter market and never will be; we stick to these sizes of helicopter.\r“We didn’t consider any other aircraft, as we wanted to walk before we can run. The Twin Squirrel is an ideal helicopter as an entry to the twin market; it’s relatively cheap and simple to operate, which, in an organisation like ours, is very important.”\rAccording to marketing director Simon Ames, the AS355 is a leased aircraft but First City Air has access to it whenever it is required. The company, which began operating as an AOC holder a year ago, employs two pilots, both of whom are type-rated and instrument-rated on both the EC120 and AS355.\r“The clients love the EC120. It’s spacious, extremely quiet and has a very fast cruise speed,” commented Daly. “It’s popular but we can’t use it at night or over water, plus it’s limited to carry a maximum of four people, whereas the Twin Squirrel will take five. If it’s daytime and not over water, the EC120 is the best option for up to four, otherwise the AS355 is the best choice.”\rNot being able to operate flights at night time was a key factor in the decision to operate the Twin Squirrel, as Daly explains: “Once you get into the winter months and you’re reliant on a single engine helicopter, your business obviously goes down.”\rFirst City Air is owned by John Scurr who is, according to Simon Ames, one of London’s top surgeons. As the owner of the EC120, Scurr chose to set up the company and has since taken a back seat to watch its fleet and client lists expand.\r“We recently flew from Heathrow to Vichy, Paris, and we expect to perform more flights like this.\r“We radiate out of London; we often do Gatwick and Heathrow pickups and drop-offs,” commented Ames. “We are accepted as an operator into the international airports and part of our business relates to picking up people from scheduled services and flying them to relatively close destinations which take an awful lot longer to get to by other means.”