Perfect Partners The Versatility of the King Air Ideal for Canada s Fast Air A MAGAZINE FOR THE OWNER/PILOT OF KING AIR AIRCRAFT

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1 A MAGAZINE FOR THE OWNER/PILOT OF KING AIR AIRCRAFT AUGUST 2013 VOLUME 7, NUMBER 6 $4.50 Perfect Partners The Versatility of the King Air Ideal for Canada s Fast Air PRSRT STD U.S. Postage PAID Traverse City, MI Permit No. 29 AUGUST 2013 KING AIR MAGAZINE 1

2 Fleet Dylan Fast with four of the King Airs in the Fast Air fleet, which he says are the backbone of both the company s growth in the charter business and its expansion into air ambulance, aircraft management services and, soon, contract maintenance. PHOTO BY IAN McCAUSLAND PHOTOGRAPHY 2 KING AIR MAGAZINE AUGUST 2013

3 Foundation Fast Air grows its air services business around the King Air 200 by Melinda Schnyder Dylan Fast started his air charter operation in 1995 with one aircraft and two pilots handling all scheduling and flying. Today, Fast Air has more than 80 employees and can claim the largest fleet of business aircraft in Manitoba, Canada, where it owns or manages 18 fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft. AUGUST 2013 KING AIR MAGAZINE 3

4 In 2000, Fast Air built a private business-class terminal, becoming the only charter airline/corporate aircraft service in Manitoba to operate from its own VIP-quality terminal. Fast calls the nine King Air turboprops in the fleet the backbone of both the company s growth in the charter business and its expansion into air ambulance, aircraft management services and, soon, contract maintenance. The Start In 1995, Dylan Fast saw a need for executive air charter service in Winnipeg, the capital city of Canada s Manitoba province and the largest city between Toronto, Ontario, and Calgary, Alberta. Fast and his brother rented space at James A. Richardson International Airport and leased a Piper Cheyenne twin turboprop. They soon added a Piper Navajo and purchased several other aircraft as business steadily grew. By the brothers third year of business, they started looking for a more versatile aircraft that would allow them to meet customer requests. We needed an aircraft that could fly a corporate mission into the high arctic one day, then serve as an executive transport from city-to-city the next day, or even land on a short, unimproved strip as a medevac, Fast said. We flew several aircraft and found the King Air could do all things quite well. We looked at a King Air 100 first and decided we wanted the range and speed of the 200. In 1998, Fast Air acquired its first King Air, a 1975 Model 200 with one owner and 10,000 hours. The aircraft is still in the fleet and has accumulated 23,000 hours. The King Air 200 was the all-around most versatile aircraft for us. It immediately proved to be very reliable and parts were easy to get when we did have an issue, Fast said. Plus, our customers really liked the aircraft. Still, I could never have imagined when we got that first King Air that we d eventually have nine in the fleet. Now, I wouldn t be surprised if we grow that to 10 in the next year. In fact, Fast is thinking of replacing his Cheyenne that he also uses for personal transportation with a King Air. Fast has been flying since being inspired by childhood flights with his father and now has more 4 KING AIR MAGAZINE AUGUST 2013

5 One of Fast Air s King Airs in Gjoa Haven on the Arctic Ocean, where operating in the grueling weather can be challenging. than 13,000 hours, holding Canadian and U.S. airline transport pilot licenses and a Canadian commercial helicopter pilot license. He flies about 400 hours per year at Fast Air and for humanitarian missions, including ferrying donated aircraft to Africa on behalf of missionary organizations that he supports. He has travelled to more than 75 countries, 50 of them as pilot of an aircraft and often with his wife and two children, both of whom plan to carry on the family s flying legacy. Steady Growth and Expansion Balancing being a pilot and a business owner isn t always easy for Fast. Five years into running the company, he said he realized he was flying less and less. That s when he decided to hire positions like a general manager so he could put his pilot s license to good use. The year 2000 was a pivotal one for Fast Air. The company built and moved into a private business-class terminal on the south side of the airport, becoming the only charter airline/corporate aircraft service in Manitoba to operate from its own VIP-quality terminal. From there, business continued to grow steadily. Fast said even he didn t foresee the future growth in the early days or that his company would eventually employ more than 80 people. We just always tried to improve customer service, focus on safety and then the rest took care of itself, he said. Fast Air is still headquartered at its private terminal and has expanded once, adding a second hangar in Every other aspect of the operation has expanded, too. While nearly half of Fast Air s business is corporate air charter, the company has added aircraft management and aviation consulting services, has an in-house maintenance team and operates a medevac division that provides 24-hour air ambulance service from four bases throughout Manitoba. The Fast Air fleet will fly about 7,000 hours this year and is now the largest fleet of business aircraft in the province with 18 fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft: eight King Air 200s, a King Air 350, two Piper PA-31T Cheyenne twin turboprops, two Gulfstream G150 midsize jets, a Gulfstream G200 super midsize jet, two IAI-1124 Westwind jets and two Bell 206 JetRanger helicopters. Without the King Air, we would not be where we are today. We d be a much, much smaller company and not as versatile. The King Air is a major component of what we do. Six Beechcraft King Air 200s are owned by Fast Air, and it manages and charters out the additional two King Air 200s. The company recently began managing a new King Air 350 for a local construction company. According to Fast, customer demand and satisfaction with the aircraft led to the company building such a large fleet of King Airs. Passengers feel secure in a King Air. It s roomy enough, it has an excellent safety record and they ve heard the King Air name for decades, he said. Without the King Air, we would not be where we are today, he continued. We d be a much, much smaller company and not as versatile. The King Air is a major component of what we do. Corporate Charter Dylan Fast, Owner Fast Air Fast Air provides executive charter service as far north as the arctic region and as far south as Central America. The bulk of their flights and the King Airs missions, though, are in Canada and the United States. While three of the King Air 200s are dedicated to air ambulance work, the remaining five in Fast Air s fleet fly 6 KING AIR MAGAZINE AUGUST 2013

6 as many as 1,000 hours a year chartering for businesses or federal/provincial government agencies. Our King Air 200s are great tools to get a lot of people and a lot of freight to remote areas anytime of the year in Canada that is really saying something. So much of our country is remote and the weather can be very harsh. We are not flying pavement-to-pavement, we get the full potential from the King Air, said Matt Hall, one of 36 Fast Air pilots and the company s safety management system coordinator. Regular flights for Fast Air are as diverse as transferring miners among locations throughout northern Manitoba, taking representatives from a farm implementation manufacturer to visit customers in southern Canada and into the Midwest region of the United States, or taking construction company and engineering firm management to visit subsidiary sites throughout North America. One of Fast Air s major contracts is with a large Manitoba utility to transport personnel between its headquarters in Winnipeg and the utility s key operational facilities. Other government mission examples include transferring court officers to trials in the northern parts of the province and flying medical officials to outlying hospitals and clinics. Our customers are very happy with the King Air and how it performs. It s always up to the challenge no matter what that challenge may be, delivering our customers crews and cargo where they need to go, said Hall, who fell in love with the Pratt & Whitney PT6 engine and then the Beechcraft King Air while working in the service and repair segment of the aviation industry. After 25 years as a recreational pilot, Hall became a commercial pilot four years ago when he had the opportunity to join Fast Air. Medevac Missions Hall enjoys the variety of his work at Fast Air; one day he s flying a King Air 200 on a cargo mission up north and the next he s flying a jet charter into the states. The most challenging work: the 1,000-mile treks into the artic where weather can be grueling, weather data is often unreliable and alternate routes are limited. Adding to the test is that 80 percent of these arctic missions are for medical evacuation. Fast Air established an air ambulance division in 2003 and now covers Manitoba from three bases in addition to Winnipeg: Island Lake (east central), Norway House (north central) and Thompson (farther north, launch post for arctic). AUGUST 2013 KING AIR MAGAZINE 7

7 Fast Air established an air ambulance division in 2003 and now covers Manitoba from three bases in addition to Winnipeg. PHOTO BY IAN McCAUSLAND PHOTOGRAPHY Three King Air 200s are dedicated air ambulance units, while another four of the King Air 200 aircraft in the charter fleet have the capability to convert to medevac configuration. The King Air 200 is the ultimate aircraft for getting the most out of the corporate charter side of the business and the medevac side, Hall said. It s a phenomenal airplane that gives you the power, the reliability and the fly-ability so you can have the best of both worlds flying corporate charter into major cities and landing on unimproved strips in desolate areas. Hall explained, The power of the King Air is never as important as when flying a medical transport mission for adult, pediatric and critical care patients. Some of our most challenging medical missions are going into very short fields and that s when having the power is hugely important. These aircraft are modified with wing lockers and additional storage so we can bring the necessary equipment to provide the full spectrum of medical care for up to two patients with two medics on board. According to Hall, because it s critical that an air ambulance is configured for the comfort and safety of the patient, the size and quality of the King Air 200 cabin makes it ideal. The cabin on the King Air 200 is also very quiet, which makes it easier for the medics to talk with the patients and to hear the equipment in-flight, he said. G1000 and Gross Weight Upgrades Earlier this year, Fast Air became the first Canadian maintenance facility to upgrade a King Air 200 with Garmin G1000 avionics and the CenTex HALO 250 gross weight increase modification. Fast Air s in-house team performed the upgrade on one of its dedicated medevac aircraft an investment that Fast said will boost the aircraft s range and payload profiles and bring added safety and situational awareness. The HALO 250 conversion adds 920 pounds of payload capacity by increasing the maximum takeoff weight of any 200 series King Air from 12,500 pounds to 13,420 pounds. CenTex Aerospace, Inc. of Waco, Texas, developed a normal category STC and a commuter category STC and received FAA certification in October KING AIR MAGAZINE AUGUST 2013

8 Fast sitting in one of the King Air 200s that has been upgraded with Garmin G1000 avionics and the CenTex HALO 250 gross weight increase modification. Photo by Ian McCausland Photography Fast said the upgrade will increase medical transport options allowing for the possibility of transporting multiple patients on a single flight more often, increasing range, and opening up IFR alternate options in the remote northern environment where these issues can present major challenges. Fast Air s in-house team recently completed the conversions on a second medevac aircraft, and the company plans to convert its entire fleet of King Air 200s by year s end. Then, Fast said, his team will offer the upgrades to other Canadian operators. With a fleet that spans nearly 20 production years, Fast Air s conversion to G1000 avionics across the entire King Air 200 fleet will bring consistency among various avionics packages that included at least three different autopilot systems and three types of GPS. The improved technology and the addition of synthetic vision also will add to the margin of safety and situational awareness. AUGUST 2013 KING AIR MAGAZINE 9

9 We ve had a small avionics shop for awhile and decided now is the time to build up that part of the business. After we ve completed eight of our own upgrades, we ll be in the perfect position to do outside work for the many King Airs operating in Canada, Fast said. For the conditions in Canada the remoteness, the weather, fuel getting more expensive the further north you go both the G1000 and the gross weight increase are upgrades that will more than pay for the cost of installation through increased safety and operating efficiency. Future Growth It looks as if the King Air will continue to hold its seat at the center of Fast Air s business plans as the company nears the start of its third decade. Fast said he s already seeing the G1000 and gross weight conversions provide operational advantages in the medevac and charter segments of the business, and that will only intensify once the entire fleet is upgraded. Becoming an installation center for both conversions also will open up a new channel. It s already a great airplane, one that s been the catalyst for our business and the businesses we serve, Fast said, but these upgrades bring the King Air into the absolute full potential of what it can offer an operator. KA 10 KING AIR MAGAZINE AUGUST 2013

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