Fractional jet provider Flexjet has launched a private helicopter division, integrating Associated Aircraft Group (AAG), acquired last year by parent company Directional Aviation, into the Flexjet family. Flexjet will extend complimentary helicopter hours to its Gulfstream G650 fractional owners, and will sell add-on fractional, lease and charter access in Flexjet-branded Sikorsky S-76 helicopters. The new division will provide on demand transportation regionally as well as last-mile transport for owners of Flexjet aircraft travelling from airports to their final destinations, a door-to-door travel solution not available through any other provider in the US.
Eli Flint has been promoted to president of the Flexjet private helicopter division, leading the nearly 50 former AAG sales managers, mechanics, operations team members and pilots. He brings more than 25 years of aviation experience to this new role. The division is expected to grow domestically and in Europe over the next five years as point-to-point vertical aviation demand increases worldwide.
“Flexjet's new helicopter division enhances our position as the leader in combining fixed wing operations and private urban mobility in the US. This distinguishes us as the only operator in our industry to offer seamless travel,” says CEO Michael Silvestro. “Today, more and more travellers are seeking an alternative to crowded forms of transportation, opting instead for easier, safer and less stressful options from beginning to end. In addition, this enhanced segment of the Flexjet experience allows our clients to become even more productive with their time.”
Flexjet helicopter operations will be seasonally located in the northeastern states and in Florida throughout the year, providing connections between airports and city centres as well as short-haul regional destinations such as conventions, music festivals and other sport and entertainment events.
“I know how important this time-saving programme will be to Flexjet's busy fractional jet owners, and I am proud to lead this group of aviation professionals,” says Flint, who is type rated in several business jets and until recently was a leader in private jet sales for Flexjet working in the southeast market. “I also want to assure our owners that, since safety is the highest priority at Flexjet, the helicopter division will have the same level of oversight, resources and industry credentials as our jet fleet.”
As far as safety is concerned, each helicopter has a series of double redundancies for enhanced safety with twin engines, dual autopilot systems and two S-76-certified, highly trained Flexjet pilots. The helicopter safety management system (SMS), through Baldwin Safety, includes a preflight risk assessment programme, a hazard reporting system and a customised landing zone survey conducted for off-airport operations, allowing owners additional flexibility in their flying. The helicopter division has the same operational oversights for weather and performance planning as Flexjet's jet programme, with conservative margins designed for safety and peace of mind.
In addition, Flexjet's helicopter operations will be environmentally responsible: the company upholds a 4Air Bronze Sustainability and SAF rating.