StarPort USA, the Sanford, Fla., FBO launched in 1995, has survived a bankruptcy and a recession, and with an eye on the slowly improving economy has launched a new completion and refurbishment center.
StarPort is owned by the Cambata family of Virginia, which also owns Cambata Aviation International in India, specializing in airline ground handling. StarPort USA president Nelson Cambata flies a Beechjet.
The family bought the troubled Sanford Airport FBO in 2000 and set about putting the house in order. According to Eddie Hidalgo, director of sales, the company was showing a profit by February 2002 “and hasn’t looked back.”
Today, the facility has about 115,000 sq ft of hangar space and another 12,000 sq ft of lobby, office and lounge area. It is an FAA-approved repair station and a Cessna Caravan service center. The company even owns a Cessna 340 that it uses as a free taxi service for crews dropping off aircraft, as well as for parts pickup and delivery and local AOG requirements.
Located at a halfway point between Daytona and Orlando, the facility has grown steadily. The steady growth, combined with an improving economy, encouraged StarPort to invest in the new completion and refurbishment facility. The first phase was completed last month at a cost of just under $1 million and consists of a 15,000-sq-ft, cross-draft paint shop capable of accommodating aircraft as large as a GIV-SP. A cabinetry shop is already set up and operating, as is a seat buildup and upholstery shop.
The FBO is designed with a 30,000-sq-ft attached hangar on either side, one of which has been converted for interior completion and refurbishment. The paint shop module occupies half of that hangar. The remaining 15,000 sq ft is dedicated to interior installation and shops. It too will accommodate aircraft as large as the GIV-SP.
According to Hidalgo, StarPort has already done several exterior paint striping jobs and is preparing to undertake its first refurbishment project, an Embraer Brasilia for full interior refurb and exterior paint. Also on the schedule are two Mitsubishi Diamonds due in for exterior striping and touchup.
The interiors and exterior paint work is expected to employ 25 to 30 people by the end of the year.
“We have gotten a lot of interest, and we have a lot of quotes out on various projects,” said interior shop supervisor Jude Zimmerman. “Meanwhile, we’re considering purchase of a King Air 200 that we’ll refurbish for resale.”