Dutch King Air operator Zeusch Aviation has expanded into commercial AOC operations by collaborating with UK medevac company IAS Medical, based in County Durham. Zeusch purchased its first King Air in 2014 to serve the needs of the owner, a CEO of a Dutch cloud hosting provider with offices in Europe, Asia and the US, but has since begun special mission work. "The owner was mainly flying himself to his company's offices in Frankfurt and London, until we were approached by a company relaying audio video signals for the Giro d'Italia cycling event," explains MD Herman van Kranenburg. "We have modified our aircraft with antennas underneath, including a two-metre mast to pick up signals from the bikes and the lead cars."
This job led van Kranenburg to investigate the mapping market. "There are companies out there looking for aerial photographs to be taken, and they are unable to do this themselves. Our latest King Air C90 that was just delivered has a mapping window on the bottom, which is a glass panel you shoot through without having to hang a camera outside, and it doesn't fog up as it contains a double panel with cool air in-between."
Zeusch also has a B200 on its fleet, which it took delivery of in March and intends to use for medevac flying. Installation of a LifePort stretcher is imminent: "We will be able to transport passengers lying down once this work has been completed," van Kranenburg adds. "The modifications are being carried out by Rotterdam-based Part 145 organisation Rijnmond Air Services."
Zeusch has been using a Guernsey registration for the B200 up to now, which is sufficient for its aerial photography work but not for passenger transportation. Applying for an AOC from scratch was not a favourable option, so it has opted instead to transfer the B200 to the UK registry: "We only really started commercial operations in May last year, so we didn't want to make the full investment to go for an AOC for just the one aircraft. We decided to look for a partnership with an existing AOC, and found IAS Medical. IAS already operates three King Air 200s, so it was an easy way to add our aircraft to that operation when it comes back from maintenance this month," says van Kranenburg.
"In the downtime when we don't have any patients, we'll offer the aircraft to the market through Avinode for charter flights. We will try to utilise it as much as we can and are aiming for between 300 hours a year per aircraft. We already have some mapping and relaying contracts in place, some of which are five-year agreements, so that is a good start. We are also in talks with a number of King Air operators that are looking to let go of their assets."
Zeusch Aviation's main base is located at Lelystad, just east of Amsterdam. The Dutch authorities are pushing to move low cost carriers from Schiphol airport over to Lelystad, but this has been met with resistance from concerned locals. "The runway has already been completely upgraded, widened and lengthened, and a new terminal building is being constructed at the moment, which is expected to be complete by late 2019. Until the transition is completed it means that our current operation is non-IFR, which can lead to difficulties getting in or out of the airport. If it is foggy then we cannot fly. We must also work very closely with IAS at all times, especially when it comes to last minute organ flights, but that is the nature of using another company's AOC."