NBAA Convention News

Sabreliner keeping them looking and flying like new

 - November 14, 2006, 6:04 AM

By March, Sabreliner Corp. should be generating annual sales of $50 million, thanks to support of Sabreliner and Learjet 30-series business jets, subcontract manufacturing for other manufacturers and its Premier Turbines engine overhaul business.

To handle the anticipated growth, Sabreliner has been hiring of late and expects to add 70 people by the end of the company’s first year in operation since the sale of its Midcoast Aviation subsidiary seven months ago. Sabreliner Corp. is highlighting its capabilities here at Booth No. 4672.

Sabreliner built 346 of the pioneering jets, beginning with the Model 40 in 1963 and ending production in 1981 with the Model 65. Nearly 300 Sabreliners are still operating, and Sabreliner Corp. owns and flies the first Model 40, S/N 282-001, as a corporate airplane and demonstrator.

Sabreliner purchased -001 in 1996 and renamed it Sabre One. Fortunately, many of the mechanics who built and worked on that airplane in the mid-1960s were on hand to restore the sturdy jet at Sabreliner’s Perryville, Mo. facility. This is the same spot where the last years of Sabreliner production took place and where many green aircraft were completed after being manufactured by Rockwell International in Los Angeles. Production of the airplane shifted to Perryville in 1977, and in 1983 Rockwell sold the line to a group of investors.

To help keep the remaining Sabreliners flying, Sabreliner has continued to invest in maintenance and modification programs, including one that lengthens airframe life to 30,000 hours or landings and a new composite overwing fairing that is available for all Sabreliners. The new fairing is made of closed-cell foam with multiple fiberglass facing sheets instead of aluminum/composite honeycomb.

The honeycomb material can trap condensed moisture as the airplane climbs and descends through varying outside air temperatures, according to Kenny Flieg, director of corporate aviation program management. The condensed moisture can eventually cause corrosion of the aluminum part of the fairing and the underlying wing skins, he added. The new fairing, which is available now from Sabreliner, is made of two pieces–a large fairing and a small fairing on the outboard and forward ends of the large portion–“making for an exceptionally smooth aerodynamic wing,” he said. “The new fairing is stronger, more attractive and requires less maintenance.”

Sabreliner technicians have also developed expertise on the Learjet 30 series, thanks to a U.S. Air Force contract for military Learjet 35 (C-21A) maintenance, including heavy inspections. During the next four years, Sabreliner will complete fifty 12-year inspections on the C-21A fleet.

Sabreliner isn’t just helping keep the Sabreliner fleet flying but is also constantly adding upgrades. “Even the earliest Model 40s can look and feel like new,” a company spokesman said. Sabre One has benefited from the upgrade programs and in addition to fresh paint and new composite cabin side panels that weigh 103 pounds less and add eight inches of shoulder room and two and a half inches of headroom, the classic jet also illustrates how modern avionics can make an older jet fit into RVSM airspace and meet current safety standards. Sabre One upgrades include:

• Dual Collins ADS-80K air-data system for RVSM

• Honeywell CAS-67A TCAS

• Honeywell KGP-860 EGPWS

• Avidyne EX 500 multifunction display for radar, TCAS, EGPWS, moving map with FMS flight plan and XM weather display.

• Iridium antenna installation for handheld phone use.

An example of the cost of refurbishing a Sabreliner is a Model 60 owner who is paying $1.6 million for paint, interior, avionics, Freon air-conditioning for ground cooling, sound dampening and LED cabin lighting. “These programs,” said Ronnie Herman, Sabreliner’s senior vice president of operations, “will keep anyone’s Sabreliner flying for decades.”