Clay Lacy Aviation of Van Nuys has merged with an aircraft management and charter company as the first part of a strategy to expand on the East Coast.

With the addition of Key Air in Oxford, Conn., the charter and aircraft management firm now represents 75 managed aircraft and runs fixed-base operations at Van Nuys and Seattle as well as four maintenance centers.

Chief Executive Brian Kirkdoffer said the merger with Key Air was the result of clients asking for a larger presence in New York. The deal is the first of several steps to expand on the East Coast, he added.

“We now have a great team of aviation experts on both coasts, focused on providing the highest levels of safety, service and value in the business aviation industry,” Kirkdoffer said in a prepared statement.

Clay Lacy Aviation was founded in 1968 by aviation pioneer Clay Lacy as an air charter operator and later added aircraft management. Lacy is a former commercial airline pilot who set records in air racing and developed an expertise in aerial photography for feature films and commercials.

Key Air was founded in 1996 by current Chief Executive Alan DePeters and has a charter fleet of five aircraft in addition to a larger fleet of managed aircraft.