London Executive Aviation is adding three aircraft to its fleet: a Challenger 300, a Legacy 600 and a Legacy 650. Md George Galanopoulos says: “With clear signs of an economic recovery, we are entering 2014 with a positive outlook for the business aviation industry as a whole. This will begin to filter into our own business and the addition of these aircraft is part of our continued drive to provide the very best options for our clients. By the end of this year, we are aiming to add an additional three aircraft to our fleet.”
The 650 has a maximum range of 3,823 nm and is the first LEA aircraft to be registered in the Isle of Man (IoM). Galanopoulos explains the decision to opt for the M register: “This was a customer choice; it is not a charter aircraft, it is used exclusively by a company. It used to be on the UK register and they decided that it is a lot easier operationally to have it on the Isle of Man.
“It is being used quite extensively, 700-800 hours a year, and we find in this instance that the M register is a lot easier.”
He fully expects to use the IoM register more in the future, especially when it comes to managing aircraft: “We are traditionally and predom-inantly charter people, and we had never looked at this before because we couldn't see the point when we wanted just to charter.
“But there are owners out there who don't want their aircraft chartered, and the IoM has a very favourable tax regime and a straightforward CAA.”
LEA has had dealings with this registry previously, when it took an aircraft off of the M and on to the G register. Now, in the opposite instance, the operator has been impressed with the safety standards of the IoM's CAA. Galanopoulos goes on to say that there are other benefits too: “I think one of the most important things is that an M registration doesn't devalue the aircraft. If you choose a register which is well-respected then that proves to be a good decision.
“If you put it on some of the shadier registers that we have experienced, you will try to sell it and people are going to be completely uninterested.”
Registered aircraft in the IoM conform stringently to EASA regulations, and with a small team – Galanopoulos believes there are just 15 staff in the CAA office – processes that can take time elsewhere are dealt with instantly. “When you want something done you pick up the phone and it gets done,” he says.
“That's not a derogatory comment on the authority here, it's just the IoM is very quick. Cost-wise it is comparable to the UK, with minor differences. But in terms of just getting things done, if you want an approval, it is very quick and very efficient. Providing someone doesn't want to charter an aircraft, it is a great register.”
The operator's latest Challenger, based at Bristol airport, can seat up to nine passengers plus two crew and a cabin attendant. It has an intercontinental range, fly by wire avionics, HTF7000 engines and a cabin entertainment system including dvd player and two monitors. It can operate from runways as short as 1,300 metres.
The Legacy 600 is a refurbished addition, with a moving map display, a satellite phone system and high-speed internet in the cabin. It has a range of 3,128 nm, permitting flights to the Middle East and Africa from its London base. The 600 and 650 can seat up to 13 passengers, and the 600 and the Challenger are both available for third party charter.
Galanopoulos concludes: “We look to provide the most cost-effective, comfortable and functional aviation travel arrangements for our clients. All aircraft meet our passenger expectations for comfort, space, reliability and, above all, safety.”
LEA has also completed its refurbished head office at Stapleford airport, to accommodate new employees in its operations team. The office consists of a new reception area, designed by British designer Aidan Hurren, with views overlooking the airport's runway and ramp.
Finally, LEA has entered into a partnership with MedAire to maximise the safety of its passengers and crew inflight. Operations director Leigh Westwood says: “The safety and security of our clients, passengers and crew are paramount, particularly in countries with elevated risk. Our partnership with MedAire provides us with evacuation co-ordination anywhere in the world as well as global medical advice.”
The operator has access to MedAire's Trip Ready app, which provides valuable insights into each destination during the risk assessment process. It is used to help LEA's operations team make informed decisions as part of its safety management systems.