Czech operator T-air is midway through an application for an AOC and expects the process to be completed this year.
Since autumn 2015 the company has taken a CitationJet, a PC-12NG and an EC120 under management. "We were already operating one PC-12 and the owner of T-air decided to buy his own, so we got this one," says flight ops manager Jan Buben.
"We operated a Robinson R44 for another client, and at the same time he decided to buy a bigger helicopter for himself, so that's why he bought the EC120. We may use it for ferry flights to get our customers closer to the CJ, or he might use it to take clients to his house."
T-air does not own any aircraft and its fleet, which also includes single piston types, is entirely managed. It also provides training and assists with ratings. "What keeps us going is managing our bigger aircraft and flying them," Buben explains. "We have two PC-12s at the moment plus a Piper Meridian. The school, the ATO, brings in some money but not too much."
T-air began operations because the owner had his own Cessna 182 and needed someone to operate it. He later acquired a Robinson R44 before selling the Cessna and buying a Piper Meridian. Buben continues: "They are just too small for him now, so that is why he got the PC-12 and the CJ. The CJ is not the newest but we got it because we wanted to get our own AOC. The easiest way in Europe, certainly in the Czech Republic, is to build the AOC on a multi-engine aircraft. Although commercial transportation is not yet possible with the PC-12, we fully intend to carry this out once the AOC is finalised in the summer or autumn of this year. EASA has already approved us and we are now waiting for the European Commission to release SETs for commercial transportation before we can use it officially."
There are some states, like France, Sweden and Finland, where single engine props can be used for transportation on an exemption, but the Czech Republic does not allow it yet, operating the Pilatus commercially is a priority at T-Air.
"Our basic goal is to get the two Pilatus we have onto the AOC. We are not operating the CJ currently. We have it in our hangar and someone else is operating it under their AOC for us at the moment. We are surprised at how much it is flying. It is cheap so it flies a lot, around 50 or 60 hours a month."
He says he is not contemplating midsize, and that the Pilatus is plenty big enough for the time being. "It can open up further destinations. The city where we are from is not that big, and we don't have as many clients here as cities like Brussels and Amsterdam, nor do we have any clients that could afford to buy a big jet for us to operate. We are in the middle of Europe and this works well because everything is within reach in a couple of hours."
The operator has also started to offer handling at Hradec Králové airport. "With FBO services we will be looking to provide special support to the people that come here. However, a lot of jet pilots are afraid to come to a VFR airport at the moment," Buben concludes.