ST Aerospace Expands into VIP Completions Business
Aeria Luxury Interiors (Booth H212) is the new name for VIP completions design specialist DRB Aviation, which last month was acquired by Singapore’s ST Aerospace group. The deal takes ST Aerospace, which is well established in maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) work, directly into the market for completing and refurbishing business and private aircraft.
ST Aerospace has an established MRO facility in San Antonio, Texas, where Aeria is headquartered. It is now converting one of its hangars in a VIP completions center there to provide room for its new U.S. subsidiary to grow. The facility, which should be ready to use by May 1, will include shops for cabinetry, upholstery and electrical work.
“We have already provided several quotations [for cabin outfitting projects] and have been shortlisted on two projects,” said Aeria’s completions general manager Ron Soret. The new hangar will be able to house aircraft up to the size of a Boeing 747-400.
DRB Aviation has previously worked on aircraft ranging from Bombardier Learjets to Boeing Business Jets (BBJs) and Airbus Corporate Jets (ACJs). “Sometimes we were responsible for the completion from A to Z, sometimes we just worked on design or certification,” company president Don Bell told AIN.
Soret believes that many Asian business aviation customers currently flying on conventional-size business jets, such as Hawkers or Gulfstreams, will progressively move to larger aircraft, such as ACJs and BBJs. In the future, Aeria may also have completion facilities in Asia but Soret estimated this will take “five years or more” to get established.
Meanwhile, in January, ST Aerospace received a license to establish an aircraft repair facility in Guangzhou, China. It is a joint venture with Guangdong Airport Management Corp., which has a 51-percent stake.
The new MRO facility is expected to begin operations in the second half of 2013, performing maintenance, repair and overhaul for Airbus, Boeing and McDonnell Douglas aircraft. For the most part, these will be airliners, but the operation could also provide support for VIP versions of the aircraft.