A dedicated maintenance, management and refurbishment facility for helicopters has been opened by Volare Aviation at London Oxford Airport in the UK.
Up to 12 twin-engine executive helicopters can be worked on simultaneously in the 16,000ft² (1,486m²) space. The business offers expertise in interior and exterior work on pre-owned Leonardo, Airbus and Sikorsky models – from leather stitching on seats through to paint work.
“Opening this new helicopter facility enables us to deliver one of the most comprehensive services on the market to helicopter owners,” said Dustin Dryden, founder and chairman at Volare Aviation. “From this fully accredited facility, with international approvals including EASA, UK and US FAA, we have the ability to purchase, refurbish, manage and maintain owners’ helicopters all under one roof – from one location.”
“It’s also a pleasure to continue our long-term partnership with London Oxford Airport, now in our ninth year, as we expand our facilities hand in hand with the airport’s growth and this pent-up demand for on-demand private aviation,” he added.
Part of London Oxford Airport’s ongoing strategic plan, in addition to investment in new hangarage, was the addition in 2021 of seven new ICAO/EASA/CAA-compliant helipads.
“These have facilitated safer interaction with fixed-wing operations at the airport where interlining between jets and helicopters often takes place, in particular to undertake 22-minute shuttle runs to and from The London Heliport, co-owned and operated with London Oxford Airport,” said James Dillion-Godfray, head of business development at Oxford Airport. “Clients can also benefit from mitigated handling fees if they fly into the airport on a business jet and then take the London Heliport shuttle.”
Volare Aviation secured its helicopter AOC from the UK Civil Aviation Authority in September 2020. In 2021, Volare acquired six Leonardo AW109E seven-seat helicopters from Babcock International. The AW109s were flown or transported by road to Volare’s Oxford headquarters. They have since been retrofitted with luxury interiors – involving interior, paint and avionics upgrades – and are now available for charter from Volare, or offered for resale.
The business was further strengthened in 2021 with the recruitment of Nick Isbister, formerly with Air Charter Service, as director of sales. “We have seen a significant uptick in interest for helicopters since the pandemic – both for charter and acquisition among HNWIs, mirroring the trend in business jets,” said Isbister. “Newcomers have turned to private aviation to transport their families, friends and colleagues efficiently and safely in a COVID-secure environment, while saving time and travelling in absolute comfort.”
Drawing on Volare Aviation’s close relationship with the Guernsey aircraft registry (with its own fleet of 25 managed business jets and helicopters) the business will work with new owners to help them secure personalised registrations.
Volare’s helicopter MRO activity is undertaken by five full-time licensed helicopter engineers, headed by chief engineer Peter Knight. Knight joined Volare in 2017, having previously worked with HeliAir and A2B Aero.
With a workforce of 50 people, including sub-contractors, Volare runs its own in-house facility, offering everything from engineering to aircraft charter services, as well as aircraft acquisition and management. Volare Aviation’s engineering capabilities are recognised by the UK CAA, US FAA, Nigerian CAA, Hellenic Republic, plus Cayman Islands, San Marino, Guernsey 2-Reg approvals. Volare is endorsed by aircraft manufacturers Bombardier, Embraer, Gulfstream and Hawker, plus suppliers Avidyne, BTEC, Garmin and Gogo Business Aviation.