Midcoast enters market for narrowbody completions

 - August 1, 2007, 7:10 AM

Midcoast Aviation last month announced its intention to move into the “narrow-body” cabin completion business, marked by groundbreaking on a new 146,000-sq-ft hangar at its St. Louis Downtown Airport facility near St. Louis.

According to Midcoast president Kurt Sutterer, the growth was prompted by demand for executive aircraft the size of the Airbus A318 and A319 and the Boeing Business Jet. The market for narrowbody bizliners has grown 15 percent annually over the past four years, he said, adding, “The popularity of this type of aircraft as a business tool will result in 18 to 20 green aircraft entering the market every year.”

In the past, Midcoast has focused on interiors for midsize to large business aircraft, from the Hawker 800 and Falcon 50 through the Global Express and Gulfstream G500.

Midcoast’s announcement comes on the heels of parent company Jet Aviation revealing plans in March for a new $29.117 million 377,000-sq-ft hangar in Basel, Switzerland, that will simultaneously house an Airbus A380, a Boeing 787-8 and
“a number of midsize aircraft.”

The new Midcoast hangar expansion represents an investment of $17.5 million, including beefing up areas of the adjacent ramp to support the heavier footprint of the narrowbody bizliners. The hangar, scheduled to open for business next summer, will comprise two 48,000-sq-ft bays connected by a 36,000-sq-ft, three-story center core, as well as 14,000 sq ft of shop space. The expansion is expected to add at least 200 employees to Midcoast’s staff of 1,100 within the first two years of operation.

Also on the drawing board at Midcoast are plans for a new paint shop that will accommodate narrowbody bizliners. The existing paint shops are limited to aircraft as large as the Global Express XRS.

According to a Midcoast spokesman, the expansion plans at Midcoast benefit from a $4 million investment package provided by the State of Illinois as an element of its “Opportunity Returns” program, part of the state’s economic development strategy aimed at creating new jobs in southwest Illinois.