The Spanish company, Soko Aviation, specialises in chartering private jets and is now operating the EC130 B4 to encourage the development of the corporate segment in Spain.
Interview with Oscar Barnés, the CEO & Managing Director of Soko Aviation.
Why did you decide to go for the EC130 B4?
Oscar Barnés: We looked at three criteria in particular: the engine; the size of the cabin, which must offer excellent visibility in the front and back; and comfort. The EC130 B4 is a safe helicopter which is very comfortable and quiet. It’s a top-of-the-range aircraft that leaves its competitors in its wake. The cabin can seat seven people – a pilot and six passengers – and is configured with three seats at the front and four in the back. It is also a very versatile helicopter that is extremely popular with our clientele, largely because of the level of safety that it offers, even though it is a single-engine aircraft. Our clients appreciate the numerous qualities of the EC130 B4, which has played a major role in developing the image of the helicopter. People see this as a very well-designed and accomplished aircraft; our clients feel safe inside it, and it is both robust and very easy to handle. The freedom it offers is another asset, as we have seen on our transfer flights to the Pyrenees region.
In which sectors do you use the EC130 B4 and for which type of missions?
O. B.: We currently have two EC130 B4s, one based in Seville and the other in Madrid. We provide corporate flights and, in some ways, we are looking to introduce the Spanish to this type of service. Time is very precious these days, and most people have started to realise how handy the helicopter is for overseeing civil engineering projects, visiting a house in the country or getting to the golf course. These transfers can be made to or from anywhere in Spain, and also for going abroad.
What do you expect from Eurocopter?
O. B.: Given the growth of the Spanish market, we need a manufacturer that is very much out here in the field with us, and I am particularly talking about customer support and stop-gap solutions to cover delivery delays. More specifically, we are looking to buy a third EC130 B4 soon, but this time through a client for whom we will become the operator, and we are counting on Eurocopter’s support for this operation. For the moment, we are going to carry on working with the same aircraft, because our clients trust the EC130 B4, and our pilots and instructors have been trained to perfection.