Pats Emerging On Its Own

 - July 1, 2011, 4:05 AM

Pats Aircraft Systems, best known for its auxiliary fuel systems, is emerging from a major restructuring phase to focus on four core competencies as a stand-alone company.

Georgetown, Del.-based Pats has long been under the DeCrane Aerospace umbrella but found itself an only child when DeCrane sold most of its other assets to aerospace systems and services provider Goodrich

 last October.

Since then, under the leadership of new CEO John Martin and with the financial backing of Wayzata Investment Partners, Pats has devoted its resources to its core competencies; auxiliary fuel systems; maintenance, repair and overhaul; green aircraft completion; and manufactured products (with the exception of auxiliary fuel systems).

Auxiliary fuel systems have long been a major part of the Pats portfolio, and the company has provided range-extending auxiliary fuel packages on more than 130 Boeing Business Jets to date.

The company holds STCs for auxiliary fuel systems for virtually all the 737 models in executive configuration. Pats recently expanded that product line with FAA certification of four-, six- and eight-tank aux fuel systems for the 757-200 executive variant. Pats is seeking EASA certification of those packages. In addition, the company holds STCs for auxiliary fuel systems for executive variations of the Boeing 767, Bombardier’s CRJ200 and the Fokker 100.

Now, according to v-p of sales and marketing Matt Hill, Pats is exploring the idea of marketing similar auxiliary fuel packages to airline and cargo operators as well as military customers. “We’re also monitoring the newest aircraft platforms to see which airplanes we could apply our aux fuel system to as a means of enhancing range,” said Hill.

With the full package of eight additional tanks, Pats’s system can deliver a max range of 6,000 nm in a BBJ. In the 757-200, the aux fuel system bumps the range to nearly 5,500 nm from about 4,100 nm.

In Boeing Business Jets’ green aircraft, Pats installs auxiliary fuel systems under contract with the Seattle-based manufacturer and has a 100-percent on-time delivery record, according to Martin.

Maintenance and Completion Services

Maintenance and modification continues to be another major core competency, and the company’s Sussex County Airport facility has four hangars capable of housing seven BBJs simultaneously.

Customer deliveries of BBJs began in 1999, and Pats anticipates a growing business as the first executive twinjets come due for the calendar-driven 12-year maintenance check.

“At that point, the interiors of a lot of those airplanes will be showing their age, and we expect to be doing a lot of minor and major cabin refurbishment during the 12-year check downtime,” said Hill. He noted that Pats already has one BBJ in for the 12-year check. Another is in the shop for a sale-driven cabin and cockpit avionics upgrade.

Pats is a Boeing-approved center for green aircraft cabin completion, a job that includes auxiliary fuel system installation if called for. One BBJ is expected to roll in for a cabin completion at the end of this year and roll out next spring.

Hill said Pats’s green completion strategy is not based on volume, and the shop expects to have no more than two projects overlapping at any one time. “This way, our customers know that we are focused on their airplane,” he explained. “We think it’s the best plan for the customer and best plan for Pats.”

Hollingsead International, a Pats subsidiary that remained with the company following the DeCrane sale, is responsible for manufactured products. Hill noted that the Hollingsead line of avionics trays and racks complements the Pats business of completion and refurbishment, auxiliary fuel tank systems and modifications. Hollingsead also has other markets for its products, including airlines and parts brokers. “We see it as a substantial growth business,” added Martin. Hollingsead moved from its original California base to Georgetown after the DeCrane sale.

Pats is a Part 145 repair station and is authorized to work on all Boeing 727 and Boeing 737 variants, Bombardier’s CRJ200 conversions and Embraer’s Lineage 1000. The process is simplified by the fact that Pats also has FAA ODA (organization designation authorization) approval, and also has authority to grant PMA (parts manufacturer approval).

In addition to the restructuring, Pats also expects to see a major rebranding and a new logo, though not before this fall’s NBAA Convention in Las Vegas. Part of that restructuring will also see a dissolution of the DeCrane association.

“All in all,” said Martin, “we feel like, as a stand-alone company in charge of our own destiny, with strong financial backing and restructuring, we’re back in the saddle again.

“We’ve restored a lot of customer confidence and re-instilled that culture of quality and of doing what we say we’re going to do.”