Alan Mann Helicopters – Operating Licence withdrawn

Alan Mann Helicopters – Operating Licence withdrawn

25-Jul-2010 Source:

One of the most well-known and long-running onshore operators in the UK, Alan Mann Helicopters, has had its operating licence withdrawn by the CAA. In a published announcement in their “Official Record Series 2” document, issue 1961 dated 20th July 2010, it confirms in a terse and formal statement “Alan Mann Helicopters Limited – This Operating Licence has been suspended with effect from 14 July 2010”.

At present, does not know the exact reason behind this move. However, we do know that an email was widely distributed late on 20th July addressed to “all customers and suppliers of Alan Mann Helicopters Ltd”, in which two named employees were “suspended for gross misconduct, and subsequently both have resigned”. Despite being signed by by Nick Cummings, Managing Director of Alan Mann Group, the email was bizarrely sent from the account of one of the departed individuals. A further twist is that Mr Cummings failed to put any of the recipients in the “BCC” box when addressing the email, so the distribution is open to view by all – and includes customers many people did not know they had. It continues by saying that “Alan Mann Helicopters is commencing proceedings in the High Court against…” and names the two individuals.

Alan Mann Helicopters was sold by the eponymous Alan Mann in summer 2007 in a deal which raised a number of eyebrows across both the property market and the British aviation industry. On 4th November 2007, the Times newpaper published an article on quoted property services company Erinaceous, which was evidently in some trouble. Erinaceous was led by Mr Neil Bellis, and the article stated that Alan Mann Group (including the Helicopters section and its various other sister companies), together with Fairoaks Airport where the group was based, had been sold in a deal where “an Erinaceous offshoot paid £42m for the property assets” and “The helicopter businesses went to Longmint for just £1.”. Two days later in this article, Property Week magazine said that hedge fund Fursa, which controlled around 19% of Erinacous, called a meeting which led to Mr Bellis’ resignation. Longmint is the private company of Mr Bellis, and some industry observers considered that the low price paid by his private company for an admittedly loss-making helicopter business was an unusual way of structuring the deal. The current Managing Director Nick Cummings is the brother-in-law of Mr Bellis.

Two new people have been appointed to replace the departed AMH employees, both moved from an associated company in the Longmint Group.  Apart from the Alan Mann Group, Longmint also owns Fast Helicopters of Shoreham and Thruxton, Sterling Aviation at Norwich, Total Air Management Services which previously operated from Sheffield and fixed-wing operator Skydrift. Longmint also has other interests including Newick Park Hotel in Sussex and a property development company.

In addition to buying Fairoaks Airport, the Guernsey-based Albermarle Group (believed associated to Erinaceous) also bought Shoreham Airport on Britain’s south coast.  Albermarle’s website shows it is managed by people with email addresses from company Egan Lawson, which had been taken over by Erinaceous but was subject of a management buyout a very short time before the group company collapsed under £250 of debt.  For the curious, “Erinaceous” means “hedgehog-like” and Mr Bellis flies himself in an R44 registered G-HHOG.

Industry sources have also told that two AgustaWestland 109s previously operated by Manns have been moved to Redhill Aerodrome and one has been added to the Operators Certificate of rival Rotormotion. We do not know if this fact is linked to the withdrawal of Mann’s certificate.

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