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Elite gains full IFR approval and expands Grand fleet
UK operator Elite Helicopters, based at Goodwood aerodrome, is planning to bring a third managed A109S Grand into service by the end of the year.

UK operator Elite Helicopters, based at Goodwood aerodrome, is planning to bring a third managed A109S Grand into service by the end of the year. The fleet expansion coincides with CAA approval to carry out full IFR public transport operations.

Sharon Douglas, operations director, says: "After 15 years of experience with a variety of helicopters operating under VFR conditions, we are delighted to take the company to the next level of operations."

Elite Helicopters reports good demand for the two Grands that have already been brought on stream augmenting a fleet that includes two R22s for training, an R44, a JetRanger, two LongRangers and two AS350 Squirrels.

Operations manager Bill Leach says: "The Grands are a real asset for our fleet, with high capability. They can take six passengers and plenty of baggage. The speed is good with the capability of 145 knots."

He adds: "Earlier in the year business was quiet, however in the past two to three weeks the level of enquiries has grown significantly and not just in numbers but in the quality of those enquiries. I was expecting September to be much quieter than it has turned out to be."

Elite Helicopters was launched 15 years ago by Glenn Curtis and Sharon Douglas in 1995. "It started small with the management of one JetRanger and has grown significantly," says Leach. The company, which carries out services to a mix of county shows, sports events and vip charter, was first established at White Waltham near Maidenhead in Berkshire.

In early 2001 it took over the helicopter charter operation and flight training school at Goodwood from Stephenson Aviation, giving Elite Helicopters extensive coverage throughout southern England.

In 1998 Elite Helicopters secured the contract for the operation of the heliport at Farnborough International '98. "The company has continued to be awarded the contract for the event since and is contracted through 2012," says Glenn Curtis.

Elite also runs all ground operations in connection with the Helitech exhibition which is held bi-annually at Duxford, and licenses a heliport for operations in connection with the British Grand Prix. Leach says: "Flights to the major sporting events, such as the Epsom Derby, Royal Ascot, the Festival of Speed, Glorious Goodwood, the Revival Meeting and the British Grand Prix, are speciality operations that Elite Helicopters majors in."

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