MRO Profile: Jet Aviation St. Louis

 - January 28, 2011, 7:00 AM

Jet Aviation St. Louis, formerly Midcoast Aviation, is expanding its operations to include single-aisle bizliners, Skip Madsen, vice president of Jet Aviation St. Louis’ MRO operations and sales, told AIN. “Midcoast Aviation’s expertise was in large-airframe general aviation aircraft. Jet Aviation’s background included both large [business jets] and [single-aisle bizliners], so we were a good fit,” he said.

Founded in 1971, Midcoast Aviation began operations as a small FBO at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. Now headquartered at St. Louis Downtown Airport just east of the St. Louis metro area in Cahokia, Ill., the company has grown to nearly 1,000 employees.

Switzerland-based Jet Aviation Group acquired Midcoast Aviation in March 2006 to increase its market share. To unify Jet Aviation’s brand footprint around the world, Midcoast Aviation–a Jet Aviation Company–was rebranded last month to Jet Aviation St. Louis.

The company specializes in completion of green Bombardier Challenger 605s, 850s and Globals. As part of its effort to enter the single-aisle bizliner completions and refurbishment market, the facility is working to obtain FAA and OEM approvals and has sent technicians for training on single-aisle airframes. Additionally, teams have been dispatched to work with their counterparts at Jet Aviation Basel who have expertise on those airframes.

“We’re assisting Jet Aviation Basel with an Airbus Corporate Jetliner completion and have been exchanging engineers and our cabinet and quality control people for cross-functional training. We’ve been doing the engineering and cabinet fabrication for the project,” Madsen said. “We’re also currently bidding on additional [single-aisle bizliner] completions and modifications; we definitely view this as a growth area for us.”

To accommodate the expansion into bizliners, a 145,000-sq-ft hangar was completed in 2008 that can simultaneously house six BBJs or ACJs.

“From a physical plant perspective we’re already set up to handle that segment of the market,” he said. “Jet Aviation has been investing in the business and been supportive of the plans and investments we’ve wanted to make to take our business to the next level.”

MRO Support

Jet Aviation St. Louis provides a full platter of MRO services, including scheduled inspection, unscheduled repair, avionics repair and upgrades, engine service, interior design and refurbishment, exterior design and paint, structural repair or modification, component and accessory service.

The facility is an FAA Class IV authorized service center certified to work on all business jets although the company focuses predominantly on supporting Challengers, Embraers, Globals and the newer, larger Falcons, Gulfstreams and Hawkers. It also offers component/accessory service, including landing-gear overhaul, NDT and calibration services. Jet Aviation St. Louis has an AOG team and will dispatch mobile maintenance teams to assist operators in the field.

In addition to FAR Part 145 certification, Jet Aviation St. Louis also holds EASA, South African Civil Aviation, Bermuda Civil Aviation and Aruba Civil Aviation approvals.

According to Madsen, the refurbished facility has new customer lounges and offices with Wi-Fi and printers, and a kitchenette for customer use.

The facility consists of nine hangars totaling nearly 650,000 sq ft. Of the 967 employees, 650 work in various capacities in maintenance departments, with 150 of them certified A&P mechanics and 90 avionics techs. There are also 65 technicians who are repairman-certified leads.

“We follow up twice with our customers, contacting them within 24 hours of their departure then again 60 days later to get feedback on their experience. We regularly receive comments telling us how much they liked our maintenance teams and the service. We use the feedback to adjust our operation when appropriate,” he said.

“Our experience in the large airframes is a huge strength of ours. The completions and refurbishment experience we’ve gained over the years puts us in a strong position for growth into new product areas now that we have a global footprint. There’s added value in being part of an international organization.”

Madsen cited an example of a Challenger 604 operator, a regular customer for maintenance and refurb work, who had a minor problem with the galley while traveling in Europe.

“Because we’re part of Jet Aviation we were able to route him to our Basel facility and have the galley repaired. We coordinated with the Basel team; they were able to pull the necessary parts and were waiting for the customer when he arrived. The operator was able to complete the mission with a fully functioning galley rather than being forced to wait until the airplane returned to the U.S. That’s the value of being part of a maintenance support network with 17 MROs worldwide,” he said.

Madsen emphasized the value of a company with a breadth of services that includes aircraft management, maintenance and charter. “We had a Gulfstream that came in for three STCs, which grounded it for four months. Because of our breadth of services we were able to offer them access to an aircraft during that time period.”

Jet Aviation St. Louis also has an extensive avionics group that handles cabin management, high-speed data and Wi-Fi systems.

“The market in that area has exploded,” he said. “We’re currently booked with a solid 60-day backlog and have jobs scheduled into the fourth quarter already. Last year at this time we were lucky if we had a week- to two-week backlog,” he said. “I think the economy is slowly beginning to pick up and as companies get a little extra cash they choose to refurbish the aircraft rather than buy, and that’s where we come in.”