FBO Profile: Sun Air Jets

 - September 26, 2006, 7:04 AM

Sun Air Jets at Camarillo Municipal Airport (CMA), Calif., recently completed the final phase of a $10-million hangar-expansion program, which has added more than 52,000 sq ft of hangar and office space. With the addition of the two new 26,000-sq-ft hangars, the Southern California FBO now has more than 77,000 sq ft of aircraft storage space under roof. The complex also includes more than 9,000 sq ft of office space. Additionally, a 60,000-gallon fuel farm is under construction.

And there’s more to come. Sun Air Jets president Steve Lassetter said, “A significant portion of the new and existing space has already been leased to high-end corporate jet operators. Consequently, we have already begun architectural planning for our fourth hangar.” Currently, half of the recently completed hangar space is spoken for by Sun Air Jets’ on-demand charter service, which operates Gulfstreams and Hawkers. Other corporate tenants house Gulfstreams, Challengers, Falcons and Citations in the hangar complex.

In addition to charter and aircraft management, Sun Air Jets offers maintenance and a full slate of line services. Open 24/7, the terminal features a luxury passenger lobby and waiting area; full weather and flight-planning room; pilot lounge with satellite television; quiet rooms; crew showers; conference rooms; wireless Internet access; and on-site catering. The facility was completed in 2002. Also available are crew cars and shuttle service to nearby golf courses and other area attractions.

Camarillo Municipal Airport is located just off U.S. Highway 101 about six miles from the California coast, outside the hubbub of better known Los Angeles- area general aviation centers such as Van Nuys, which is 20 miles to the east. CMA has a single 6,000-foot Runway 8/26 (with 1,000 feet of displaced threshold/overrun on the east end). The former Oxnard Air Force Base is served by GPS and VOR approaches only–no ILS. But the prevailing weather is good and VFR operations are the norm.

FBO Security

Sun Air Jets has equipped all three hangars with the most advanced foam-fire-suppression technology, bird netting, compressed air and 480-volt power for all maintenance equipment. Security is also a prime concern, leading Lassetter to install a complex surveillance system from airport security specialist Navigance.

“Along with the installation of the system in our new hangars, we had Navigance upgrade the existing security in the original executive terminal and hangar complex,” he said. Every terminal and hangar door is monitored and the data continuously stored on a digital video recorder system. A total of 38 electronically controlled access points control each external door, gate and specific security-sensitive internal doors.

“Our insurance company has taken note of the current security measures we’ve installed,” Lassetter said. “For example, having the ability to capture any incident and being able to determine the cause may mean lower insurance costs in the long term.” He added that any breach in security can be captured as a digital record, another boost of confidence for insurance companies and tenants alike.

The local chamber of commerce reports that the Camarillo area (just north of Thousand Oaks and Simi Valley) has had 15-percent annual growth over the past five years. “Our business has kept pace with the explosive industrial growth in this area. Fuel business has increased fourfold over the past three years,” Lassetter said. Sun Air Jets is a member of Exxon/Mobil’s elite Avitat group of FBOs.

Lassetter said, “When Sun Air Jets was purchased by its present management in 1999, the long-term business goal was to build an operation that catered exclusively to corporate jet operators.” There are two other competing FBOs on the field–Channel Islands Jet Center and Cardinal Air Center. According to Lassetter, Sun Air Jets accounts for 80 percent of the jet fuel sales at CMA.