Rani Singh writes about aviation. She reports on news, foreign affairs, politics and business... Read More
Pilatus PC-12 turboprop
Yves Roch, Chief Executive of Lausanne-based Fly 7 Executive Aviation, is putting his Pilatus PC-12 to good use providing quick, efficient links throughout Europe – and not only for those who you’d think can afford it. Rani Singh discovers more…
Boasting a fleet of 13 business aircraft, ten of Fly 7’s aircraft are in fact Pilatus PC-12s. These single-engine turboprops are based in various locations, including Cannes, France; Liege, Belgium; and Lausanne and Geneva, Switzerland. An additional exclusive agreement with Helsinki-based Hendell Aviation gives Fly 7 access to what was the first commercialy operated PC-12 in Europe.
According to Mr. Roch, many of his European clientelle have businesses in remote locations. “Flying privately in a PC-12 increases the number of feasible airports in Europe to 2,000 destinations, because we can land on small runways.
“We find that our corporate clients appreciate the discretion that smaller airports can offer. Moreover, reduced security controls means less time spent waiting, thus they enjoy a considerable gain of time; more time to be productive in their business activities.
"It is easy to understand why this is an attractive travel alternative for local business men, such as bankers, who wish to retain a low-profie.”
So why is the PC-12 such an instrumental aircraft to Fly 7’s operations? “Being based in Lausanne we offer our clients a very good alternative to flying from Geneva,” Roch explains. “With the PC-12 - the largest aircraft that can land at Lausanne - we can compete with Light jets whilst also accessing other small, local runaways such as Saanen Airport that would otherwise not be accessible to our passengers.
“Our customers are flying a lot from St. Tropez or Courchevel and the PC-12 enables us to respond to the needs of our market segment perfectly. Our entrepreneurs can get closer to their preferred destinations, allowing them to make a day trip to visit clients, partners or factories in less time than it would take in a commercial airline, or even a larger private jet.”
Schedules Running Like Clockwork…
There are many puns to be made about a Swiss charter company helping its clients’ business schedules tick like clockwork – but on a serious note, Roch does offer the example of how the local watchmakers benefit greatly from the use of the PC-12.
“The famous Swiss watchmakers are mostly based in a region called La Chaux-de-Fonds, a small town that is a fair distance from the main hubs of Geneva, Basel or Zurich,” Roch explains.
“La Chaux-de-Fonds has a good, but small airport. There’s only one aircraft that can fly commercially out of this airport – namely our PC-12."
"So we are flying a lot from La Chaux-de-Fonds to Paris, or other destinations to enable the watchmakers to get their business done further afield in a single day. We are also able to bring clients directly to the factory doorsteps.”
Roch feels that the PC-12 is essentially a niche market. “It’s marketed as an aircraft with a big cabin and an interior capacity that no other small business aircraft can provide. Fly 7 is one of only a few players in the market utilizing a PC-12 for charter.”
Business Aviation for All
Yves is well aware that Business Aviation has an unjustified reputation for being a luxury market, but he is keen to point out a new venutre, Fly Me Home, in which the less prosperous are able to benefit from the services of the company’s PC-12s. “We also conduct medical flights for a local hospital,” he explains.
“We reduce ambulance costs by coming much closer to the hospital. The flights are partially funded by the hospital, but are mainly funded by our generous donors.
“We are also having flight hours donated by the owners of the aircraft in our fleet, to bring terminally ill patients back to their families and loved ones. Full medical assistance is not always necessary to do that kind of flight – but thanks to Fly Me Home we can offer those patients the opportunity to spend their last moments in the place they love, with the people they love.”
According to Roch, Fly 7 is getting an increasing number of requests for its Fly Me Home service. “We have already made four trips, and believe me; it is an amazing feeling when you see the relief on the patient’s face to finally be where their heart is!
“For people who may not have the money to fund a trip in a private aircraft but have the need, to be able to benefit from the convenience of Business Aviation is just great news!”