Fly 7 Cargo has deployed its PC-12 NG based in Lausanne to provide round-the-clock cargo flights for global logistics companies and freight forwarders since 2019. The perfect aircraft for special missions organised at short notice, it has opened up new opportunities in the field of cargo charter flights. Pilatus Aircraft Ltd
Fly7 Cargo is licensed to transport hazardous goods by air and is also authorised to transport certain cargo from outside Europe. Fly7 Cargo uses its PC-12 NG to provide scheduled express services to freight forwarding companies in e.g. the aerospace, automobile, energy and healthcare sectors. The PC-12 NG Executive Freighter flies anywhere in Europe, day or night, often for the automobile industry.
The perfect workhorse
“The PC-12 is a very economic aircraft fitted with an extremely large cargo door – an essential feature in our business”, says Managing Director Joe Hauff. The company purchased its first PC-12 NG in 2019, following EASA approval of single-engine turboprops for commercial operations in Europe in 2018. In addition to the large cargo door, other factors in favour of this single-engine turboprop are e.g. its ability to use very short runways, its range and high speed. “The PC-12 is also fully pressurised and can fly above the weather. Not forgetting the extremely useful floor load factor – 1,000 kilogrammes per square metre, adds Hauff.
The PC-12 NG Executive Freighter operated by Fly7 Cargo has been designed exclusively for freight operations, allowing total use of the available volume. The entire interior, including toilet, seats and storage areas, was removed and the cabin has been finished with a special cladding. The floor is fitted with additional panels to ensure optimum weight distribution. The cabin is usually equipped with one seat, a second seat can be added if required.
A completely new world for cargo charters
“The rules weren’t as strict when we started our cargo flights 20 years ago. There were plenty of people operating unauthorised commercial cargo services with their own aircraft. EASA regulations gradually became increasingly strict, which really reined in that type of operation”, explains Joe Hauff, adding: “These days customers want to see our Air Operator Certificate (AOC) before they even ask for an offer.” Fly7 also has a CO2 offsetting programme, which is a big plus. As Hauff says: “We note a growing trend for ‘green flying’, and the PC-12 is perfect in that respect. Fly7 plays a very active role in this area.”
Taxi service for special cargo
Fly7 Cargo has no direct contact with end customers. All its clients come from the cargo industry, providers of emergency logistics and freight charter brokers. The number of operators working with aircraft of this size is fairly small – it’s fair to say that everyone knows everyone else. “Most transactions can be dealt with on the phone”, explains Hauff. “In theory, it’s a bit like ordering a taxi: there are a few questions about availability and price, then we get a green light and swing into action”, he adds.
Hauff recalls one special assignment which perfectly illustrates the advantages of the services provided by Fly7 Cargo – a flight from Münster in Germany to Tangier, Morocco: “Our client contacted us late in the afternoon with a request for an urgent flight. The cargo was wanted in Morocco first thing next morning. The original urgently required vehicle spare parts were stuck in customs. In the end, those same parts were re-manufactured overnight in Münster. Enter the PC-12! The speed, performance and large cargo door of our aircraft were major benefits. Having arranged the required overflight and landing permissions overnight, the PC-12 departed for Tangier early next morning, carrying three Europa pallets loaded with spare parts. The crew landed in Morocco after just 4.45 hours in the air”, recalls Joe Hauff.
Fly7 Cargo also operates at night. The number of night flights depends to a great degree on the market situation and the urgency of the cargo. The availability of aircraft and crew is also a factor. Most night flights are booked by freight forwarders offering next day delivery. The freight business has seen a big increase in recent months and Fly7 Cargo’s services are in great demand.