With growing demand for large executive aircraft from Airbus and Boeing, cabin completion and refurbishment centers specializing in bizliners are finding plenty of work to feather their own nests, and there’s more to come.
Final numbers for Airbus and Boeing executive aircraft deliveries last year were not available at press time, but expectations were that the total for both OEMs might go as high 20 aircraft, mostly single-aisle ACJs and BBJs. Sources in the industry expect this year and next to be even better, as deliveries of Boeing 747-8s and 787s to completion centers begin in earnest. Boeing, in fact, expects to deliver eight 747-8s this year alone.
Added to that is a growing demand for major cabin refurbishments of ACJs and BBJs that were delivered in the late 1990s and early 2000s and are now due for a 12-year heavy maintenance check.
A recent informal check of some of the industry’s independent completion and refurbishment centers revealed hangars already filling up and backlogs extended in some cases into 2014.
Airbus Corporate Jet Center recently delivered its ninth and tenth ACJ319 outfitting jobs and now has six ACJ319s being outfitted in its hangars in Toulouse, France.
It is completing two ACJ319s for Middle East aircraft management and charter operator Aviation Link, and according to head of sales and marketing Bruno Galzin there is a backlog of seven green ACJs.
While ACJC is not yet doing larger executive ACJs, such as the ACJ330, the center does provide cabin refurbishment, nose-to-tail airframe maintenance and engine support through its VIP Pass program on the entire ACJ line already in service.
Amac Aerospace received its first Boeing 777-200LR in November and work is already well under way, according to the EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg-based center. Delivery of the finished airplane to aircraft management and charter operator Aviation Link in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, is expected late this year.
Also in the works is an ACJ319, and the center’s first 747-8 green completion project is due to roll in this summer.
Late last year, Comlux America in Indianapolis began expanding its facilities with a new hangar that will allow simultaneous completion of as many as four ACJs or BBJs. The hangar is due to open this summer.
At this point, the Comlux America facilities are working on a BBJ3, ACJ319, an ACJ320 and a Boeing 757.
The center is looking at a backlog well into 2013 and expects to begin work in 2014 on the first two Sukhoi Business Jet (SBJ) versions of the Russian Sukhoi Superjet regional airliner.
Gore Design Completions in San Antonio delivered two head-of-state aircraft in 2011–a 767-300 and a 777. It has one of the most crowded hangars in the business, with three ACJ340s, an ACJ320 and a BBJ3. And the center is going to have to make room for an A320 and an A330 soon.
According to a spokesman, the center is now selling slots into 2013.
Late last year, Greenpoint Technologies delivered a Boeing 747 refurbishment to an unidentified customer and began 2012 with multiple Boeing Business Jet completion projects already under way. It anticipates arrival of the first 747-8 in the first quarter of this year for installation of the company’s Aeroloft.
Now in the shop are a BBJ and a BBJ3, and engineering and procurement has begun on a 747-8 full completion project, and the cabin completion backlog is into 2014.
L-3 Platform Integration typically sails quietly along under a broad radar sweep but is well known in the completion industry. The Waco, Texas center’s most recent coup is a contract to complete a green Boeing 747-8 for a repeat customer of 20 years.
One of the more recent deliveries was a BBJ major cabin refurbishment completed in 14 months from contract to delivery. The airplane was actually in L-3’s shop for just three months, “without sacrificing quality,” according to Steve Smith, director of the VIP and head-of-state completion.
Lufthansa Technik in Hamburg, Germany, is no less busy. Last year the center delivered two ACJ340s to the German Defense Force for operation on behalf of the government and a total of eight completed airplanes.
In the shop now are five airplanes for refurbishment, ranging from an ACJ318 to a Boeing 747, and the backlog is stretching into 2014.
Perhaps more momentous was last year’s signing for two Boeing 747-8s. Interior outfitting on both is scheduled to begin this year, and if that weren’t enough to keep Lufthansa Technik busy, it is holding letters of commitment for three more 747-8s.
Just as it did throughout the recession, the single- and twin-aisle executive completion and refurbishment business appears to be going strong, and the only direction in the near term seems to be up.