Lion Helicopters has been providing professional helicopter services since 2011. From running a flight school, managing a maintenance organisation, to performing aerial work. It is also the exclusive representative and distributor of the French Guimbal Cabri G2 helicopters. The company recently became a founding member of the Leading Helicopter Academies, Europe’s first international network of helicopter schools.
Lion Helicopters has a reputation for friendliness. Everyone who works at the company and with the company describes it as “like working with a family”. This “boutique” helicopter school offers many advantages for young enthusiastic wannabe pilots as well as pilots who’ve flown around the block a few times. To learn more about this personal touch, we’re talking to Jan Krčil (Owner Pilot and Head of Training) and Markéta Mudruňková (Sales Manager).
Jan: “When I first started Lion Helicopters, I was already an instructor on Robinsons mainly. So, I was looking for helicopters suited to the training market, robust with some forgiveness. The Guimbal Cabri G2 was the only helicopter on the market at the time that met my requirements. I built the company around the training facility at first, training new pilots with these new helicopters. We subcontracted the maintenance, but we weren’t very happy with the quality. So, we built our own maintenance facility.”
Perfect for one-to-one training
Lion Helicopters is specialised in modern two-seater helicopters, perfect for one-to-one training purposes. However, the company also flies other helicopters for other parties.
Jan: “We offer training on the EC 120, also to support another operator, with training and with crew members. We can use their fleet to help both their business and ours. It’s becoming a deeper cooperation with them.
The business model is pilot training first and foremost?
Jan: “Yes. We mainly train pilots for the private sector, but we also train professional pilots on an individual basis. We don’t do large contracts, our main goal is cooperation and training for operators and other organisations. That’s why we’re looking into AOC.”
You can land almost anywhere
As well as operating in the Czech Republic, the company also has three bases in Slovakia. What kind of advantages does this offer to pilots?
Jan: “The Czech Republic is not really a mountain country. Plenty of hills, but the highest peak is 1,600 metres. Whereas the Slovakian region is far more mountainous. Also, you can land almost anywhere, with just a permit from the landowner. There’s a lot of places we can use for training purposes, or for commercial operations. This is really cool and not very common in countries like Germany or Austria, for example.”
Currently, Lion Helicopters trains very few students from abroad. However, the ambition is there.
Jan: “Of course, we have the expertise to work with international students. The cost of living is very low here, so we can offer very competitive rates and accommodation isn’t very expensive either. And we’re well-connected to the airport.”
H145 ratings in the future
While providing F1 training, PPL and CPL licences, the company is also looking into other training programmes and ratings in the near future, such as H145 type ratings. The Airbus H145 is considered one of the best multipurpose helicopters in its class, offering exceptional performance and cutting-edge avionics.
Jan’s co-pilot for running Lion Helicopters is Markéta, who’s responsible for all things ATO, running the flight school, as well as the planning and marketing. She’s living her childhood dream: a passion for flying and the desire to be a helicopter pilot, Markéta is now training for her PPL licence.
Markéta: “I first moved into the airline industry, but I didn’t give up on my dream. I was trying hard to find a way into the helicopter business. I met the guys from Lion eight years ago. They were doing a heli event for a company and I was helping out. It was the first time I had actually seen a helicopter. I told myself, this is the thing I really want to do.”
Markéta: part of the Lion heli family
Admirable determination and keeping in contact with Lion Helicopters finally paid off. 10 months ago, Markéta finally became one of the Lion heli family.
Markéta: “Because we have such a small group of students, we can approach each of them individually. We focus on their dreams and ambitions. We want to do the very best for our students. Take care of them, from their very first flight to their five hundredth flight. When we have students from abroad, we take the time to help them find accommodation and get settled in. For many people it can be challenging to leave your home country and train somewhere else.”
Lion Helicopters has five part-time highly-skilled instructors, all with their own specialisms, to personally assist beginners and highly skilled pilots. Having maintenance facilities on-site means that the helicopters spend the maximum time in the air and aspiring pilots can learn something more about that part of flying.
Jan: “This combination with the maintenance right on site means that people can touch disassembled helicopters to understand a little deeper. Also if a helicopter has some kind of issue, you can sort it out very easily and very quickly. So you don’t need to stop the training. We can immediately repair the helicopter and continue.”
A YouTube channel with over 100,000 subscribers
One other interesting fact about this very special helicopter academy: it has an incredibly successful YouTube channel. (Link) has over 100,000 subscribers. How do you make such great films?
Jan: “It’s mainly our enthusiasm and love for the helicopter industry. In the future, we plan to make more online tutorials.”
Whether you’re interested in a dedicated and intimate helicopter flying school, like Lion Helicopters, or a larger concern, you’ll find what you’re looking for at www.lha.eu.