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FAI may acquire Challengers but Lears will be heart of fleet
Germany's Flight Ambulance International (FAI) has taken a big step towards becoming one of Europe's largest operators of Learjets, the aircraft that it has chosen to form the heart of a growing bespoke air ambulance fleet. FAI has acquired a fourth 55, taking its fleet to a total of six Learjets that include two 35As.

Germany's Flight Ambulance International (FAI) has taken a big step towards becoming one of Europe's largest operators of Learjets, the aircraft that it has chosen to form the heart of a growing bespoke air ambulance fleet. FAI has acquired a fourth 55, taking its fleet to a total of six Learjets that include two 35As.

Volker Lemke, director sales and marketing, says FAI may diversify its fleet with Challengers and spns. But, for now, the sale of its C550 has transformed FAI into a solely Learjet operator. Its two 35As and two 55s operate at 90 per cent in dedicated air ambulance service while the

other two 55s operate exclusively under NGO contracts.

FAI is planning to expand its fleet in 2008 by one or two LR60s. "However we will also be looking at adding a Challenger 601 or 604. This would give us additional options as we build a fleet that will make us one of Europe's largest Learjet operators," says Lemke. "In addition I can tell you that we are seriously evaluating the Grob spn as a possible aircraft of our future fleet due to its cost/performance ratio. Unfortunately today we are not sure that this aircraft has the range we need for our mission profile, especially if we

are talking about truly worldwide flights. We understand the spn will have a maximum range of 1,800 nm under FAA regulations, but as a European operator we would have to calculate on something like 1,500 to 1,600 nm, which is just not enough for us." For now FAI is checking out the spn's capabilities.

Grob confirms it has been talking to four "significant" air ambulance operators in Europe. Peter Smales, executive director marketing, says: "In addition, air ambulance service providers that place business with fleet operators are showing great interest in the spn. This will have a big influence on the choice of aircraft by air ambulance operators."

FAI has been building its air ambulance capacity for some time. Lemke explains: "Until recently the FAI fleet relied on a rather diverse array of aircraft, a Citation I, a Citation II and two Lear 35s.

"The economically efficient Learjets will remain the backbone of the fleet for the future."

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