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Showing posts from tagged with: luviair

Luviair helicopter operations

Article by Chris Clifford



ONBOARD talks to Nigel Watson about his experience over the past 35 years of working with VVIPs, superyachts and the world of helicopter operations.

I have been in command roles in the luxury yachting and aviation industries for over 35 years — initially as part of the Golden Fleet, then for the last 22 years founding and managing HeliRiviera and Luviair. We provide a range of services in VVIP helicopter operations, specialising in those embarked on superyachts.

This overseeing of VVIP operations with seaplanes and helicopters has led to my famed Expressions. Anyone who has worked with me will have heard at least one of these before. I have chosen to share with you a few of them below.

“Yachts last longer than helicopters, so build it for the helicopter of tomorrow”
When owners begin to look for a new vessel — whether purchasing an existing one, or beginning a new build — I urge them not to choose a yacht that meets their needs today, but rather to anticipate what they may want in the future. The lifecycle of yacht ownership is longer than that of helicopter ownership, so one vessel may see multiple aircraft landing on its deck over the course of its lifespan. Helicopters become bigger, more capable, and heavier.

Owners must anticipate the helideck dimensions, storage, equipment and safety facilities for normal and emergency operations. The helideck should be big enough, strong enough and optimally placed on the vessel to be able to safely accommodate the largest model of helicopter that the owner may wish to operate — keeping in mind that the helicopter in question may not have been designed yet! There are published standards for a reason. Follow them.

“There is no such thing as a bad helicopter, but it may not be the right one for you.”
The key with helicopter choice is understanding the mission profile now and considering what it may become in the future. A good starting point is looking at what models are currently popular, but peer group pressure may lead to a misinformed choice. It is crucial to seek the opinion of a professional to confirm that the aircraft fits the owner’s mission profile. ‘Try before you buy’ applies to helicopters as well. Although VIP helicopters are not easy to lease for short periods of time, building relationships with reliable charter operators will help owners determine whether the perceived need matches actual utilisation.

“The day of delivery should be for flying and sipping champagne, not unrealised expectations.”
The purchase of an aircraft can be complex, especially with factory deliveries. Helicopters come with a broad range of operational equipment beyond the basic airframe and engines — mission-specific equipment, airframe modifications, interior and exterior design schemes, to name a few. One should also keep in mind that one day it may be sold; some decisions, though not of immediate use to the owner may be crucial in optimising resale value. For best results engage with an industry professional that is not the manufacturer. Continuously following the build, understand the stages of production, and preparing for the day of delivery will help avoid any surprises on the day; and ensure it is a smooth and enjoyable process for all involved.


“We are only as good as our last flight.”
This is for us as operators and aircrew. We are experienced professionals with CV’s that make impressive reading, but in most instances we do not fly enough by solely on heli-yacht time. The average superyacht helicopter flies around 100 hours a year. In a rostered and/or multi-crew operation, individual hours are significantly less. Regardless of experience, currency is not necessarily there. Aircrew are encouraged to fly outside their duty times in other roles, but additional approved training time is crucial. “Helicopter operations are expensive. The cost of an accident is far greater.”

Heli-yacht operations are expensive. With currency training, specialist equipment, regular maintenance, proper hangarage and facilities, operations and administrative teams, deck training for yacht crew, and much more, the costs can quickly get into high numbers. Some may be tempted to cut corners to save some money. However, the costs — financial and emotional — associated with an accident are far greater, and can be catastrophic.

“No matter what I tell you, I never have to be anywhere.”
This is a client quote; it has stayed with me for years. Client pressure is one of the most challenging elements of heli-yacht operations. Getting to a place of trust in the relationship is vital, and the quicker we get there the better. As heli-yacht aviators, we are all service orientated professionals wanting the best for our principal, their loved ones, and our fellow crew members. However, there are reasons by which we cannot fly. They may relate to airworthiness of the helicopter, weather, regional rules, or time of day. An enlightened owner understands these aspects and does not put the crew in an untenable position with unreasonable demands.


For helicopter crew, an expression of old was “I am looking for a pilot who is a cross between Tom Cruise and Father Christmas”; this was accompanied by comments relating to being unattached with the freedom to travel. This is now a dated concept. Pilots with the required experience often have young families they want to be around, and far from being a hindrance, I consider this a healthy attribute to support the statement ‘We all want to come home tonight’. Flying helicopters to superyachts for some of the wealthiest people on the planet is a stressful job. With the proper emphasis on the needs of their crew, an owner will not only have one of the safest operations possible, but also some of the most fiercely dedicated and loyal individuals on the market.

The single most important element of a safe and high quality heli-yacht operation is the relationship of trust between the principal, the yacht and the helicopter. It is also one of the most challenging. We must remember that we are all part of a team, with every member embarked dedicated to providing the best quality of service and care to our principal’s operation.

For more details talk to Nigel Watson
Tel: +44(0)1624 811365
or visit www.luviair.com

Cleared to Land

Article by ONBOARD Magazine


Heli Riviera


The value of training can never be underestimated. In a world where super yachts are increasingly helideck capable, the industry needs to learn how to adapt, in this case to new training ideas. New for 2018, Heli Riviera offers a comprehensive online training programme for safe helideck operations.

Based upon Heli Riviera’s MCA accredited course, the e-training is a great introduction for the onboard training course, or simply as refresher training to helicopter capable vessels and their crews.

With over 500 superyachts currently under construction around the world, undoubtedly, many of them will be helideck capable, if not for use - then for resale. Having a helideck aboard your superyacht has become something of a status symbol, no different from owning a Rolex or the latest Bentley. With super yacht design becoming more responsive to the market, those who work within the industry must strive to remain relevant in an ever-changing workplace.

There are an increasing number of helicopter capable yachts using their flight decks to optimise their operation. To do this safely requires the yacht crews to acquire new skills and understand the true meaning of flight safety.

Acquiring those skills and then maintaining them becomes paramount. The yachting industry is regulated, schedules are busy, crews change. There is a need for innovative training that allows crews to remotely complete training, something that Heli Riviera has aimed to tackle.

Heli Riviera has created a brand new online training product. Its content developed from years of offshore helideck experience in the heli-yachting industry and from its current group of training instructors.

The e-training module is a modern answer to training; functional across multiple platforms it provides options in terms of which device it is used on. Pick it up, do a module, revisit it later, the training programme offers total flexibility to the students. A candidate can be an individual, or the product can be packaged for a yacht with multiple non-transferable access points to the course.

Once successfully completed, candidates will be issued with a certificate that provides the crew member and Captain with documented proof of introductory or recurrent training that can be stored in the Yacht’s training database.

Where time is tight and skill fade is an issue this product provides the perfect introduction to new crew members whilst retaining skills amongst those already qualified. The Captain is reassured that the Crew is ‘aviation aware’ and is able to plan ahead to welcome Heli Riviera’s training team to conduct live UK MCA accredited training when the Yacht’s programme permits. Safe in the knowledge that the issue of skill fade has been addressed.

Heli Riviera e-training

In a world where the helicopter is becoming ever more prevalent and essential for a fast-paced lifestyle, don’t waste time or compromise your safety at the hands of an ill-trained crew. Training is at the core of a professional successful operation. Here at Heli Riviera, we are market leaders in heli-yacht training, offering internationally recognised courses. Get in touch with us today to arrange your initial or refresher training programme.

For more details Tel: +33(0) 4 93 90 53 00
or visit www.heliriviera.com/Training.pdf

Lease it, Love it, Leave it.

Article by Chris Clifford



Buying and owning helicopters are not decisions taken lightly. Buying the right helicopter for your needs whilst also considering its future use requires careful planning and advice. Helicopters are capable of being multi-sector machines operating across very different markets; Offshore Oil and Gas, Emergency Medical Services, other para public agencies and Corporate VIP.

Planning for alternative uses by a new sector user is the smart way to think today when it comes to making acquisition decisions. This foresight also opens up opportunities we as a sector have not had before, that of leasing.

The traditional method of ownership has always been to buy the helicopter outright, use it and then hope to sell it attractively. This method is complicated by the fact that all models of helicopter have differing residual values depending upon the popularity of the type, its configuration and the buoyancy of the market sectors referred to earlier. The VIP sector has traditionally been a challenging resale area and it is not uncommon to sell into a different sector as a result. This leads to an unpredictable residual value and financial insecurity regarding pricing. There is also the potential for the helicopter to remain on the market for an extended period of time, adding unwanted ownership costs.

The ownership experience needs to be positive. I am excited by the prospect of being able to offer helicopters to the luxury VIP sector through a new VIP leasing model; a partnership between the manufacturers, our leasing partner and my operating company, Luviair. For owners seeking flexibility of short-to-medium term ownership to allow them to benefit from developments in safety and technology as well as aesthetics, the leasing route makes perfect sense. The lease period is ideally five years, and at the end of it you have simple choices; give the helicopter back, enter a new lease for the latest and greatest of the same model, trade up to a larger, faster type from the same manufacturer or switch completely to a new manufacturer. The leasing model offers predictable costs throughout the ownership cycle and removes the headache and probable delays associated with selling the asset. You are in control and your financial controller loves you.

Helicopters are complex machines; their management can be divided into administrative, financial and operational parts. Each part requires engagement with an organisation, be it the manufacturer, the registration authority, the financial controller, the operator or the maintenance companies. Collectively, the whole process needs oversight, this is where a management service adds value and peace of mind to the ownership experience. Luviair has been offering this management service to our VIP helicopter owners for many years. We are also your operator specialising in the VIP heli yacht experience.

Helicopters provide comfort, security, safety and fun. They free up that commodity money cannot buy - time, allowing you to spend it with your family, friends or business colleagues whilst your yacht or remote private estate finds a newfound freedom in terms of operational efficiency.

Luviair manages a fleet of twin engine Airbus Helicopters from bases in London, the South of France, the Caribbean and embarked on some of the largest yachts in the world. We look forward to introducing you to our helicopter acquisition and ownership services in the near future.

To learn more about helicopter leasing opportunities contact Nigel Watson at nigel@nigelwatson.im or +44 (0)7765 444043.
For Luviair’s management services contact Mairi Lockwood at mairi.lockwood@luviair.com or +44 (0)1624 811365