Sevenair Academy operates Tecnam’s P2006T twin in its training operation, now joined by the L3Harris fleet of Diamond DA42s, Piper PA28s and Cessna 172s. [Sevenair]
L3Harris has sold its flight training assets in Portugal to Sevenair Academy. The multinational’s exit provides a growth opportunity for the Lisbon-based airline, which operates an academy, MRO and regional airline.
L3Harris operated a 260,000 square foot training facility at the Aeródromo Municipal de Ponte de Sor (LPSO) in central Portugal, as well as a fleet of around two dozen aircraft, including G1000-equipped Cessna 172s , Piper PA-28s and Diamond DA42s. Sevenair is also gaining three simulators and a 138-room dormitory for students on the airfield, with room to expand.
Sevenair Academy has taken possession of the aircraft, bringing its fleet to a total of 52. The ATO has training sites at Aerodromo Municipal de Cascais (LPCS), near Lisbon, and Aerodromo Municipal of Bragança (LPBG), in the north-eastern part of Portugal. Its parent company, Sevenair Group, owns an airline that flies within the country – from Portimão to Bragança – and to Madeira Island, using a Dornier 228 and a Jetstream 31.
In an interview with FLYING, Sevenair’s chief commercial officer, Alexandre Alves, welcomed the growth opportunity presented by the acquisition. “We will get the keys to the facility next week, but the planes are all on our [certificate] already,” he said. “We will start recruiting people next week.” Only a handful of students remained at L3Harris, finishing their time, so Sevenair will go ahead with its own students.
The move helps relieve the pressure Sevenair has felt operating from Cascais, the relief airport for general aviation in the Lisbon metropolitan area. Daily training flights are restricted to the LPCS by NAV Portugal, the country’s air traffic services organization.
Sevenair’s management is also aligning its airline’s growth with the ability to provide pilots not only for its routes, but also for other airlines. Alves said the company was in talks with a European airline and one from the Middle East to provide cadet training for its frozen two-year ATP-L or potential MPL course.
The Ponte de Sor base also has ample hangar space for Sevenair’s maintenance and technician training programs. [Credit: Sevenair]
The sale of L3Harris signals a reduction in its aspirations as an aviation training organization (ATO) in Europe, at a time when other ATOs are expanding in the Iberian Peninsula. According to Alves, Sevenair was one of eight entities that initially bid for the L3Harris operation, three of which qualified for a final round, including one likely an ATO with a major base in Spain. “From what we understand [the Spanish ATO] was only interested in buying the plane,” Alves said. “But our offer was to buy everything.” Backed in the acquisition by a private investor, Sevenair has a large budget to grow in the future.
Other projects are also on the horizon for Ponte de Sor airport. Alves mentioned the development of an aerospace manufacturing plant ready to start later this year, with the prospect of building a 19-seat regional airliner, similar to the CASA 212. Nearby Évora has been a manufacturing base, with Embraer in production there for many years. years.
The airport will also host the Portugal Air Summit October 12-15.
History of aviation in Portugal
The company appears to be suitable for a site originally developed by G Air, another ATO previously located in Cascais. When G Air sold to L3Harris and ceased operations, Sevenair took possession of its facilities at LPCS. The acquisition of the Ponte de Sor academy and sheds further extends this reach.
Sevenair Academy has its roots over 40 years ago, when its original company, Escola de Aviação Aerocondor, was founded by Colonel Victor de Brito. Brito died in Augustleaving a legacy that Sevenair Group is clearly proud to carry on.