Hot section MRO profile: Crownair Aviation

 - December 29, 2009, 6:20 AM

Crownair Aviation at Montgomery Field (MYF) in San Diego is improving and expanding its maintenance and FBO facilities in preparation for the economic turnaround. The company is in the process of obtaining city approval for the facility expansion. Crownair general manager Ray Richmond told AIN, “While we don’t expect to see a return on it in the short term, we’re confident we will over time.”

Richmond earned a B.S. in accounting from Brigham Young University and
a master’s degree in information systems consulting in 1990. He went to work at Ernst & Young as an accountant and spent the next 17 years in various non-aviation business-related positions.

“About three years ago an associate of mine who is an attorney asked me to study the financial opportunity for investors who were considering buying Crownair. One of the big advantages of MYF is its proximity to three freeways, making it accessible to the business district.

“While I found that some of the facilities on the airport were as much as 40 years old, its proximity to the San Diego business district made the investment a viable business opportunity.” The investors purchased the FBO in 2007 and asked Richmond to take the position of CFO.

He said his responsibilities as CFO include identifying additional acquisitions for the purpose of expansion. “They specifically want more southwest U.S. locations in addition to expanding the existing FBO and MRO business,” he said.

Opportunity for Expansion
The company considered a number of locations and acquired West Coast Jet Services on Carlsbad McClellan-Palomar Airport (CRQ) and rebranded it to Crownair. In addition, it has secured a long-term land lease at Phoenix Mesa Gateway Airport for future development as an MRO and storage hangars. “We also made some additional acquisitions in Van Nuys, but given the economy we decided the long-term viability didn’t fit our business plan,” he said.

According to Richmond, Crownair is focusing on core competencies, emphasizing good service and building on its existing maintenance business. “We see our future as good, and while both locations are currently operating a single shift our goal is to expand them both to two-shift operations. Once we’ve built our existing business to the level we’d like, and the economy turns around, we’ll be keeping our eyes open for additional opportunities as they arise.”

Richmond places particular emphasis on communicating with customers. “Communication is the key element in any business. We’re emphasizing communicating regularly with our customers from the moment they drop off the aircraft all the way through the process until it’s ready for pick-up. From our perspective, the customer must always be part of the decision-making process.”
Crownair has been providing a range of aircraft services since it opened in 1951. It offers a dedicated fuel station, personalized concierge services, hangar space and the MYF and CRQ maintenance and avionics service centers.

The Montgomery Field facility is a Cirrus and Mooney authorized service center and offers light aircraft, turboprop and light jet maintenance, hangar space, fuel sales and service. The 14,404-sq-ft main maintenance hangar includes more than 8,000 sq ft of office, shop, storage and support space. There is also a 7,200-sq-ft light maintenance and avionics facility and a 1,500-sq-ft FBO office. The MYF facility has four A&P mechanics and one avionics tech. In 2008, Crownair Aviation earned FAA Class III and IV maintenance ratings and Class I, II and III avionics ratings.

Crownair acquired its Carlsbad facility in 2008. Crownair Aviation CRQ repairs Gulfstreams, Falcons, Hawkers, Challen- gers, Citations, Learjets and King Airs. It is also an authorized service center for Blackhawk, BLR Wing-let and Raisbeck. The facility encompasses 20,000 sq ft supported by an additional 4,000 sq ft of administrative space. It is EASA approved and has five A&P mechanics and one avionics tech.

The two Crownair Aviation facilities combined offer FAA inspections, maintenance and repair, pre-purchase inspections and parts sales. Both locations also offer avionics upgrades, installation, maintenance and repair.
Richmond said, “We see the current economic situation as an

opportunity to invest in upgrading and expansion so when the economy picks up we’ll already be in a position to take advantage of it.

It’s for that reason that we’re improving our infrastructure now; we believe if the facilities are first rate this will be the logical airport destination for those doing business in San Diego.”