Castle Air has bought the UK branch of Bristow Academy at Gloucestershire Airport, which has up to now focused on providing IR courses in a purpose built facility which includes FNPT II Simulators.
The new facility, which will trade as Castle Air Academy, will bring together all of Castle Air’s training work, and their simulator currently located at Liskeard will be moved to Gloucestershire Airport. As part of the agreement, Castle Air Academy will be continue to be an approved training base for Bristow Group. The significant training operation that Bristow Academy runs in the US from Titusville, Florida is not affected by the sale. The transaction has been planned for some time – the company Castle Air Academy Ltd was formed on 6th January 2016.
Originally based around AS355 operations, this UK campus of the Bristow Academy switched focus to the AW109 from September 2014 using aircraft leased in from Castle Air, and thus the relationship between the organisations dates back over 18 months. In addition to a full IR training course, they also offer Qualified Service Pilot IR, fixed-to-rotary wing and FAA-to-JAR conversions with AW109 Type ratings. Once it is fully up and running, a total of four FNPT II simulators will be available, all configured for the AgustaWestland AW109.
Castle Air Managing Director Russ Bunyard told HeliHub.com that further expansion is planned, and this will become the third operational base for the company, which was founded in 1981 by his father-in-law Roy Flood. The company will offer charter and maintenance from Gloucestershire Airport with both AW109s and Bell 206 JetRangers expected to be based, much in the same way as the original base at Liskeard and the second base at Biggin Hill which they opened in May 2013.
This is a time of expansion for Castle Air. Last month HeliHub.com broke the news that the company had expanded into fixed-wing operations with the acquisition of Sovereign Business Jets at Biggin Hill from AYR Group. Russ Bunyard would not be drawn on what his future plans were, although it was evident that there could well be something more to write about before long.
Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com
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