Austrian flight school and charter firm Aerial Helicopters has added another Bell 206B to its fleet and would ideally like to operate three more helicopters.
The company also reports that its efforts to set up a maintenance base in rural Austria were thwarted by "green politics" - a development that has intensified "big problems" with its helicopter maintenance.
The company's president Leopold Reidinger says the flight school was going strong: "We flew 4,200 hours last year, and we can easily use three more aircraft than we are operating now.
"We like the 206, it's an easy machine, and very economic." He adds that Aerial now has five B206s in operation, in addition to AS350B2, A109 A and E, and EC120 helicopters.
As well as the flight school, which is Aerial's major business, the Bells are used for helicopter rides and "the small things - for bigger jobs we have bigger aircraft," Reidinger says.
"I think we have the intention to buy another JetRanger next summer."
Aerial has outsourced some of its maintenance work to a certified centre in Bratislava, Slovakia. "We have big problems for maintenance, that's true," he says.
"We are using engineers from the armies of Sweden or Norway. Now we are going to Bratislava, we have found a maintenance organisation certified to JAR 145," he says.
"Last year, we were still trying to build our own facility [in Austria], but it's not possible due to the local green parties. We cannot build our own helipad, so our solution is to go to Bratislava.
"I can employ four engineers [at] our maintenance business in our own company, but we have to give out 95 per cent of the work."
The attempt to build a maintenance base in Austria began some 15 years ago, Reidinger says. "It's really a never-ending story because of politics and so on. I was trying to use my father's farm's helipad, but it was necessary to make concessions to noise and nature procedures."
Growth in charter demand, in flight training, and a sideline buying and selling helicopters for "friends" in America, means Aerial is nevertheless doing well.
"We have VIP transport we are flying to some countries, using A109s to travel up to 600km in range.
That covers one or two countries. It's more economic for business people, as it avoids airports.
"[Some] have a private jet also, but they need too much time to get to the airport. They always prefer our helicopter service for short distances."
With qualifications including ground school, instruments and night flights, Aerial's school graduates around 60 students per year.
"Most are private individuals. Some are government jobs, but
very few, one or two each year. Of course, we have some students who want to enter the [charter] business, and others just for fun - everyone from the doctor to the farmer's son," Reidinger says.