INTERVIEW PUBLISHED ON YACHT INVESTOR – SEPTEMBER ISSUE
Malta based Helicopter Services is in the forefront of helicopter management and maintenance. We talked to Alessandro Rostirolla, CEO of Helicopter Services, to hear how his company can provide the services and guidance that helicopter owners need get the most from their aircraft.
Helicopter ownership can be a complicated and costly business especially when combined with operation on a yacht. Increased logistics and safety issues add to the work required from aircraft managers or operators.
It was for this very reason that Helicopter Services was established. Helicopter Services wanted to bring together all aspects of helicopter ownership under one roof. Based on this concept, Helicopter Services was established to provide a premium one stop shop service to helicopters based on yachts.
The CEO of Helicopter Services, Alessandro Rostirolla, a well-respected industry veteran, discussed the limitations of current service providers which a number of helicopter owners had previously used, “Helicopter operators struggled to find an ideal maintenance service provider for their aircraft which was close to their yacht. Helicopters were regularly flown hundreds of kilometres from the yacht for maintenance as operators were unable to find a facility which was international enough to provide a premium service close to the aircraft”.
Alessandro is well versed both in helicopter maintenance and operations. He is personally qualified as a pilot and holds an aeronautical engineering degree. He is an expert in vibration and turbines, as well as complex diagnostics. He regularly consults with a number of manufacturers on the continued development of some of their models.
In the beginning, Helicopter Services provided maintenance services for Leonardo and Airbus helicopters, however, responding swiftly to their clients’ demands, Helicopter Services developed an operation to satisfy the requirements of all helicopter owners and operators. The concept was to bring together all the components of helicopter ownership and to provide a clear menu driven service. From maintenance, to refurbishment, to management and corporate ownership structures to aircraft registration services; all the while providing support for contracted operators.
It was obvious to Alessandro that it was important to have the right team from the outset. Drawing on his knowledge of experienced specialists who are well known in the industry he has built a team of specialists that cover all makes and models of aircraft. Amongst the specialists employed are some of those who worked on the original prototypes of certain aircraft. This gives Helicopter Services an in-depth knowledge and breadth of experience which few other MRO’s can match.
Amongst the services offered by Helicopter Services is a fully mobile technician support service. Helicopter Service technicians can travel to an aircraft wherever it is located. Agreements with manufacturers and spare part suppliers ensure that an aircraft can be returned to service with minimum down time.
The surprise of unexpected costs is a clear annoyance to many operators. Most aircraft owners know unexpected and complex technical issues do arise but the team’s experience ensures that they can effectively deal with these whilst also communicating clearly with the aircraft owner or manager. In this way there is a clear understanding of the issue and quantum of work and costs. Many successful business people realise that clear and timely communication with clients provides for an effective relationship. Certainly, most of the owners and managers we spoke to were of this opinion.
Looking at the financial aspects of ownership is clearly important to many owners and family offices. Keeping up to date with changing financial regulations in numerous jurisdictions while understanding complicated aviation laws is vital to ensuring cost effective ownership. Helicopter Services can offer an almost unique service whereby they can provide advice on the ownership structure of an aircraft. This division of the company is headed up by Samantha Snow, an expert in tax planning for luxury asset ownership, including aircraft and yachts. Along with her experienced corporate services team, they can provide owners and aircraft managers with tried and tested tax efficient solutions.
In discussing Helicopter Services capabilities, Samantha was keen to point out that Helicopter Services can, if required, provide an AOC for aircraft which provides financial advantages as well as a number of other operational advantages while operating in Europe.
More importantly she mentioned that Helicopter Services has established a favourable package of corporate service options which can establish Maltese owning company structures to hold aircraft, whilst also registering the aircraft and allowing the asset owning company to benefit from favourable tax rates.
Samantha commented that, “When an individual is considering the ownership and operation of an asset as complex and valuable as a helicopter, for whatever reason, they are not likely to do so in their own personal capacity and would generally look to establish an owning entity/structure. In the first instance, establishing an appropriate ownership and use structure would provide the benefits and protection of asset segregation and limitation of liability. In addition, a carefully established ownership structure could also unlock fiscal and other advantages. For example, one of the many advantages of establishing an aircraft owning structure in Malta is the low tax regime which can see tax rates as low as 5% (and in some cases zero)”.
The Maltese Government look very favourably on tax efficient structures for aircraft. Malta is considered to be transparent and compliant within the European Union and OECD regulations. The corporate services arm of Helicopter Services also provides management and pilot services to clients.
Malta is a well-established location for maintaining superyacht based helicopters. Superyachts regularly visit Malta for maintenance work or refuelling before transiting to other EU and non-EU destinations. During a stop-over we are able to undertake heavy maintenance for the aircraft and can also provide hangar space during wintering periods.
Helicopter Services can provide advice on the purchase of aircraft. Most aircraft have varying maintenance requirements and these may influence the choice of aircraft especially given the harsh corrosive environment the helicopters operate under while on a yacht. Newly launched models may have the latest equipment but bugs often take years to iron out.
Helicopter Services are registered in Malta and have CAMO, Part-145 and AOC registered. Having recently carried out a refurbishment of an EC135 from their part 21J operation based in the UK, Helicopter Services are able to showcase their complete service range.
With locations throughout the world, including Malta (HQ), Cannes, Mandelieu St Martin (Caribbean), Reunion Island and soon to be ready, Dubai and China, Helicopter Services can offer its clients complete support throughout the globe.