Startups Signal Growing Completion and Refurbishment Demand

 - July 1, 2011, 4:25 AM

If start-ups are indicators of a healthy completion and refurbishment industry, there is cause for optimism in an industry that has been hard hit over the last several years. Recent months saw the creation of new centers, designers, vendors and consultancies as well as expansion by existing MRO facilities to include cabin outfitting.

Aero Comfort, a completion and refurbishment specialist in San Antonio, has opened a 10,000-sq-ft hangar adjacent to San Antonio International Airport.

The new facility supports cabin completion and refurbishment. Aero Comfort also serves as an outsource vendor for a variety of high-end cabinetry, upholstery, carpeting kits and panel upholstery for airplanes and helicopters.

Virginia-based BaySys Technologies’ MRO and completion and refurbishment facility is moving ahead with plans for an executive cabin completion and refurbishment center in Casablanca, Morocco. The agreement with Royal Air Maroc and “a strategic regional investor” was signed in the fall 2010.

The new center, said BaySys founder and CEO Steve Walton, “will provide a much-needed capability to the Gulf and Middle East regions, as well as serve the needs of the European client base.”

Inairvation is the recent offspring of a partnership of four completion and refurbishment industry companies with the goal of designing the next-generation environments for top-level business jets.

The alliance includes the Innovation Business Unit of Lufthansa Technik of Hamburg, Germany; List components and furniture of Edlitz-Thomasberg, Austria; Design Q of London; and Schott lighting and imaging of Mainz, Germany. The parties will act under the common Inairvation brand to “share their knowledge and assist each other in gaining access to new markets.”

“We believe that the Inairvation alliance will revolutionize the way in which cabin systems are integrated into the interior,” said Andrew Muirhead, director of the Innovation Business Unit.

JCB Aero has moved into its new cabin completion and refurbishment center in southwest France.

The 53,800-sq-ft hangar, representing a $3.91 million investment, is the first step in establishing a presence in the cabin outfitting industry. The company has plans for a second hangar of the same size, where it will build its own cabin components, primarily cabinetry and upholstery. JCB Aero is also providing interior components as an outside vendor.

In December, JetTech Aerospace completed acquisition of Cascade Aerospace’s Spokane, Wash. facilities and has been approved by Boeing as a completion center for its BBJ line.

JetTech was founded by former Cascade executive Bret Burnside for the purpose of acquisition and now boasts a 61,000-sq-ft facility at Spokane International Airport. The hangar is large enough to accommodate two ACJs or two BBJs simultaneously.

The first BBJ rolled into the center in December 2010 and the outfitted airplane is scheduled for delivery in November.

M&D Aviation has teamed with Avocet Aviation services to meet demand for completion and refurbishment in central Florida. M&D, based at Orlando-Sanford International Airport in a 56,000-sq-ft hangar, will offer turnkey interior completions for Airbus and Boeing executive customers.

Avocet will provide the MRO services that are “a key ingredient to jump-starting M&D,” said Avocet director of aircraft technical services Patrick Arellano.

M&R Associates Design of Geneva was formed through a merger of the creative talents of Vincent Rey and Florent Magnin and its initial foray into cabin design was for a rendering for an executive version of the new Airbus A350 XWB.

Interior touches include large, OLED screens set into transparent walls and large dining table with a thin, marble surface through which “E-foil” light can pass, resulting in an interplay of diffused light with crystal tableware.

SR Technics, best known for its maintenance, repair and overhaul business of 80 years, is expanding into the business aviation completion and refurbishment business.

The Swiss company has already opened a 55,666-sq-ft dedicated hangar at its Zurich Airport site and in May signed contract for executive outfitting of an Airbus widebody airliner. The major reconfiguration will be carried out in parallel with a heavy maintenance check.

Talco Aviation and DRB Aviation Consultants have formed a “strategic partnership” to provide a range of completion and refurbishment project supervisory and management services.

In cooperation with DRB Aviation Consultants, Talco will cater to owners and operators of single- and twin-aisle Boeing and Airbus jets being converted to executive use. The partnership also includes a recently opened office in Xiamen, China.

Taeco Aerospace Company in Xiamen, known throughout Asia for heavy maintenance, recently announced its intention to launch an executive cabin completion and refurbishment business.

Airbus recently named Taeco an authorized outfitter for its ACJ line of corporate and private jets.