Orders for Bombardier’s Challenger 850 are keeping Canadian MRO, completion and refurbishment center Flying Colours (Stand 1935) busy installing interiors in these purpose-built executive/VIP descendants of the Canadair CRJ200 regional jet.
According to Sean Gillespie, director of completion sales and management, the Challenger 850 is particularly popular in the Asia-Pacific Rim region. The cabin outfitter expects to deliver five of them to operators in China and another to an owner in India by the end of the year. A sixth delivery to a Chinese buyer is scheduled for in 2012. “They like the large cabin size, range that will take it nonstop to most destinations in China and a price-point in the $26 million range,” he explained.
Gillespie also pointed out that Asian customers are not buying “all show and no go.” They want a useful business tool and two thirds of them are opting for the Simphonē Broadband high-speed Internet connection from True North Avionics, an upgrade of the standard Simphonē Chorus satellite communications system from the Canadian cabin electronics supplier.
Flying Colours has, to date, delivered a total of three Challenger 850s and seven CJ200 regional jets reconfigured with executive/VIP interiors. Also involved in the Challenger 850 outfitting is Flying Colours’ St. Louis, Missouri-based subsidiary, Jet Corp.
Between Flying Colours and Jet Corp., there are seven green Challenger 850s now in outfitting and three CRJ200 regional airliners having their cabins reconfigured for executive use. At the same time, the company also is working on the refurbishment of a Dassault Falcon 900, a Challenger 604 and a Challenger 601, as well as several Learjets.
The Canadian center’s presence at EBACE, said Gillespie, is part of a plan to gain a share of the growing European market for business jet maintenance and refurbishment. “A lot of European and Middle East customers are taking advantage of used aircraft pricing during this recession to get a lot of airplane for a little money, and inspections, maintenance and cabin refurbishments are typically part of that.”
At Flying Colours’ Peterborough, Ontario facilities, a Challenger 604 currently undergoing maintenance inspections and cabin refurbishment was purchased by an undisclosed Saudi client.
In fact, said Gillespie, the demand for maintenance on Bombardier products is really picking up and includes a contract from a fractional operator to do WiFi installations on 40 airplanes.
While not so bold as to come out and declare an industry recovery, Gillespie expressed confidence that EBACE 2011 will meet or exceed expectations. “It’s our fourth year at EBACE and we always have a strong response to our presence here.”