The Heli UK Expo event on June 1-3 provided the launch for the new Bell representatives in the UK. While Heli Charter continue maintenance and operations as before, but have in recent months ceased being both a Bell CSF (Certified Service Facility) and a Bell IR (Independent Representative). This is due to the medical condition of company owner Ken Wills, which he has chosen to publish on the internet via his Curing Ken website.
Gary Slater, previously sales manager of Heli Charter, has set up new company Helix AV with Stephen Purchase with each owning 50% of the shares. Slater told HeliHub.com at Heli UK Expo 2017 that they were appointed IR (Independent Representative) status on 1st May as Bell was keen to have a continued presence in the popular UK market and Heli Centre was not in a position to provide a long-term commitment. Initially Helix AV are renting office space from Heli Charter, but the longer-term view is that an airfield location is not a pre-requisite and they may move elsewhere later in the year.
At Heli UK Expo, Helix AV were showing a year-old Bell 407GXP (see below) – the same aircraft Heli Charter showed at the same event last year, although it carried an FAA “N” registration at that time. Slater is expecting twelve Bell 505s in the UK market over the next three years, with three in 2017, four in 2018 and five in 2019. He has been told by Bell that FAA and EASA certification is expected in August 2017, with the European paperwork following within a week of their American counterparts.
Stephen Purchase previously worked for Gresham Computing for over 20 years, leaving that company in November 2007. Through his company Aerospeed Ltd, he currently owns ten Bell 206s – comprising six Bell 206Bs, two Bell 206Ls and a pair of Agusta-Bell 206Bs. Four of the ten helicopters are currently stored, and the remaining six are active and usually leased out to operators. Recently three of these six have been handed back to Aerospeed by Helicentre Aviation after their customer National Grid chose to move their gas pipeline patrol contract from Bell 206s to Robinson R44 Raven IIs (see story).
Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com
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