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Starlite Aviation Group – multifaceted and diverse

Starlite Aviation Group is a multi-faceted organisation offering a wide range of helicopter and fixed wing services through their head office in Ireland, South African regional offices, Mauritius and other key positions around the world. In addition, the group offers training, maintenance, charters and aircraft sales.

They have operated in more than 30 countries on five continents, in some of the harshest environments. Trusted long-term partners to corporate, commercial and military customers, the group is considered to be among the leaders in the fields of operations, aircraft maintenance, pilot and drone training, and aircraft sales.

Where it all began

The Starlite Aviation Group, co-founded by CEO Slade Thomas and Vice Chairman Karl Kebert began its journey at Virginia Airport some 20 years ago.

In 1999, the company procured a hangar on the Virginia airfield, establishing a pilot training school, that has since grown to gain global status. The dream did not stop at training. 

In 2000, Starlite Aviation was awarded its first contract – to support massive flood relief operations during the devastating Mozambique floods. Starlite operated three Puma aircraft, providing helicopter transport for survivors, air ambulance/Medevac support and delivering medical supplies and food parcels to remote, inaccessible areas.

The company collaborated with the British Government, DFID, the UN World Food Programme, Medicines sans Frontiers and the USA Air Services, bringing relief to the stricken area. The success of this operation put Starlite on the global map.


Training contracts came from beyond the borders of South Africa, and the global demand for operation contract work grew, as did the fleet and workforce. A second AMO, Starlite Maintenance Johannesburg, was established in Heidelberg, providing maintenance and logistics to the medium to the heavy lift helicopter fleet of Puma, Bell, Sikorsky and Leonardo (then Agusta Westland) aircraft.

Further expansion at Virginia Airport took place with additional offices and a second hangar constructed to house Starlite Maintenance Durban, responsible for maintaining the expanding fleet of aircraft.  Today, this division is a successful AMO that maintains the training fleet and has expanded its offering to third party maintenance.

Going global

In 2008, the European Head office was established in Dublin, Ireland, and so began the process of aircraft being certified on the Irish register. This opened the door to the building of a fully-fledged base in Kosovo, a key position for providing mission-ready aircraft for Medevac, NVG and FLIR operations.

Starlite’s dedication to its fleet expansion and renewal programme, extended the scope and variety of contract work.

In June 2010, Starlite Aviation purchased a Sikorsky S92, the first of its kind on the African continent and made history when landing on the Geowave Master. This aircraft opened the door for the company to compete in the oil and gas industry.

Further expansion at Virginia Airport included the establishment of Starlite Aero Sales, specialising in the sale of helicopter and fixed wing aircraft. Starlite Training continued its expansion and in 2012, opened Starlite Aviation Training Academy. This state-of-the-art pilot training school at Mossel Bay Airfield offers helicopter and fixed-wing pilot training.  Yet another AMO was established to provide maintenance support to the Academy’s extensive fleet.

Starlite Aviation specialises in a wide range of quality aviation solutions for service contacts requiring medium- to heavy-lift helicopter and fixed-wing aircraft, as well as on-site maintenance and logistics. These include:

Medevac / Air Ambulance

This gives us the ability to mobilise complete rescue, medical evacuation and operational teams for complex assignments requiring specialist equipment of varying configurations to remote and austere areas swiftly, safely and professionally.

Passenger and cargo transportation

Starlite Aviation offers both fixed-wing and rotor aircraft for the transfer of passengers and cargo to remote areas, 24/7. They provide a full complement of air and ground crew, onsite maintenance and logistics, and Night Vision Systems.


Tough situations call for highly trained, competent, and well-equipped teams. Starlite Aviation has these teams. Their primary role in this area of business is to provide inter-changeable, flexible, cost-effective, solutions through collaboration with conservation bodies and governments to provide support to anti-poaching units using sophisticated NVG technology and assisting with arrests, game counting and herding and the relocation of endangered species.

There are many other services that align with the ethos of Starlite Aviation, and their passion is evident in their work. Their reputation of reliability and responsiveness to any call to action can be gauged from their proven record and many satisfied customers.