Located at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, Delta Private Jets (DPJ) is unique in U.S. aircraft maintenance.
“Delta Air Lines is the only major U.S. airline that operates a private jet charter operation. DPJ has a unique relationship with Delta Air Lines in that we have access to the depth and breadth of support that only a major international air carrier can provide, such as its huge customer base, sales and marketing capability and legal support,” DPJ COO John Daly, a retired Marines officer and F/A-18 pilot, told AIN.
Another advantage of the affiliation with Delta is that DPJ can tap in to the vast resources of Delta Tech Ops, one of the largest maintenance organizations in the world. This is something the company is just beginning to explore and Scott McCool, v-p of maintenance, sees a lot of areas where the affiliation will provide DPJ with even more capabilities, which will help reduce cost and shorten turn times.
“Despite all the support available from Delta Air Lines, DPJ is a separate business unit, which gives us the flexibility to be dynamic. We’re not subsidized; we have to be competitive and self-supporting. DPJ succeeds or fails on its own merit, so while we have the heart of a small, privately owned MRO, we have the expertise and depth of resources afforded to us by one of the world’s major air carriers,” Daly said.
The relationship is not unique for Delta Air Lines, which has a number of self-supporting ancillary businesses, including an oil refinery, travel package company and several regional-airline subsidiaries.
“Delta likes having a broad portfolio, but the people in management understand they have to focus on the major airline business so they allow us the flexibility to compete in our own space,” Daly said.
Maintenance Operation Available to the Public
DPJ’s roots go back to 1984 when Comair Jet Express obtained its FAR Part 135 operating certificate to offer charter service. In 1995 the regional carrier entered the cabin-class aircraft category with the acquisition of a Challenger 601. Five years later Delta Air Lines acquired Comair and Comair Jet Express and the following year renamed Comair Jet Express as Delta AirElite Business Jets.
The operation continued to grow, prompting the development of the industry’s first card membership program in 2003 and, the following year, FAA approval for Part 135 on-demand operation. In 2010 the company was rebranded Delta Private Jets and the Delta Private Jets Jet Card was introduced, combining private jet services and airline travel under one program. Today, DPJ offers four areas of products and services: jet card, on-demand charter, tech service center and FBO, and aircraft management.
With more than 25 years’ experience maintaining its own large business jet charter fleet, DPJ decided to open its maintenance operation to the public. Earlier this year DPJ Tech Service Center launched its new 40,000-sq-ft MRO facility to provide owners and operators with comprehensive maintenance, repair and overhaul services for a range of private jets.
Daly said the MRO’s Cincinnati facility offers a more convenient location for operators in the region, who have traditionally faced longer repositions for maintenance. In addition, the company is a 90-minute flight or less from prominent East/Central markets such as Teterboro, White Plains, Atlanta and Washington, D.C. “We are investing heavily in this business, in the process of going to two shifts, and prepared to increase that to three shifts depending upon market demand,” he added.
The Delta Private Jets tech service team consists of factory-trained aircraft technicians with an average of 20 years of experience in all areas of private jet maintenance and repair, from the lightest Beechcraft to the largest Gulfstream. The MRO also offers 24/7 mobile tech service that can be ground dispatched within the region or quickly dispatched via Delta Air Lines to anywhere in the world. Plans call for making this a dedicated team that is continually on the road handling maintenance.
The FAR 145- and EASA-certified maintenance operation is located beside the Delta Jet Center FBO in a dedicated 40,000-sq-ft facility with room to expand as the business grows. It is staffed by 11 technicians (two are rated master technicians), three avionics techs, two inspectors (chief and quality), two managers and three administrative personnel. In addition, there are another seven employees in maintenance control.
The MRO offers annual and hourly inspections, routine engine inspections, repair services (mechanical and structural), avionics repair, non-destructive testing, aircraft conformity, pre-buy evaluations and advanced trouble shooting. It works on the Citation CJ2, CJ3, Excel, Sovereign and X; the Challenger 601 and 604; Beechjet 400A; Hawker 800XP; and Learjet 60.
DPJ sees both the MRO and FBO as growth areas for the company and is ramping up significantly to work on more aircraft types.
“We have an expansion plan for our Cincinnati operation that identifies several hangars on the airport that will accommodate growth. Phase one of our business plan is to build the business in our current facility and, when warranted, to expand the operation into those hangars. Phase two is to expand our mobile repair team capacity. It’s a natural fit for us because of our connection with Delta Air Lines. We can quickly dispatch our technicians anywhere in the world,” Daly said.