Apollo Air Services, based at Carlisle Lake District airport, has gained Multi Crew Cooperation approval for its fleet of Agusta A109 helicopters. The company has been in operation for five years and was initially formed to manage two A109s for its owners. It now flies seven of the type, six of which are A109SPs. The latest addition to the fleet arrived from Leonardo in January.
Apollo has aircraft located across the UK at bases including Cardiff, Leeds, Oxford and Southend.
The aircraft at Southend primarily provides direct transfers to central London for Stobart Jet Centre, the airport's FBO, and is also well placed to serve the charter market in the south of England. Carlisle airport, which along with Southend airport is owned by the Stobart Group, has recently been redeveloped; the main runway has been resurfaced and extended, a new terminal and control tower have been built and scheduled flights will commence on 4 June. A consultation to upgrade the approach to RNAV on both ends of the runway has also taken place.
"Due to the location of Carlisle, a lot of our flying involves long transits, as clients travel either to London or the South West or north to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Inverness and the west coast of Scotland," chief pilot and accountable manager Steve Graham explains. "This can lead to some challenging flying, especially in the winter when the weather can be difficult. The AW109SP is a fantastic helicopter for our mission profile. It is safe, fast, comfortable and very capable. It is also fully PBN-ready and approved for RNAV/LPV approaches."
Apollo is the first A109 operator in the UK to receive Multi Crew Cooperation on the type. "It will enable us to maintain the high safety standards that our clients expect when they ask for two pilots. It will also make our fleet available to operators such as NetJets, who insist on their clients flying in multi crew aircraft."
The operator has recently recruited a co-pilot to support multi crew ops. Charlotte Brown worked for Apollo as an operations assistant until she decided that she wanted to learn to fly helicopters. Having completed her CPL (H) in Sweden, she has since had her type rating and IFR training sponsored by the company. Graham is delighted to have a talented local on board: "It is very difficult for youngsters to get into our industry. The cost of training is prohibitive and job opportunities are few and far between. The industry needs to support young pilots and train them properly to ensure the future for us all."
In another step towards enhancing safety and managing the cockpit more effectively, Apollo has also secured EFB approval.