Bombardier has designated Comlux Completion USA as an official AOG/line maintenance facility for its Learjet, Challenger and Global product lines. The approval was confirmed yesterday at the end of a long period in which the Canadian airframer evaluated the company’s training and equipment infrastructure in Indianapolis, Indiana.
The aircraft management and charter fleet of the Swiss-based Comlux group already includes five Global Express jets (comprising three Global XRSs, a Global Express and a Global 5000), three Challenger 605s and a pair of Challenger 850s, in addition to four Airbus Corporate Jetliners (ACJs), a Dassault Falcon 2000 and a Hawker Beechcraft Hawker 850. Two of the Global Expresses have been delivered in the past year, along with two of the ACJs, and the operator is due to receive a fifth ACJ by the end of 2009–increasing the fleet by around a third during one of the industry’s most severe downturns ever. The company is now seeking European Part 145 approval to provide maintenance for the ACJ family.
Comlux chief executive Richard Gaona told EBACE Convention News that the current economic crisis is hitting operators of smaller business jets harder than those operating large-cabin aircraft. He said that charter rates have been falling toward the lower end of the market, as clients abandon operators in favor of airline service.
Since September 2008, Comlux has moved its ACJ fleet, which includes two A318 Elites, onto a new Maltese aircraft operator’s certificate in order to be based within the regulatory environment of the European Union. It is now starting to re-register its Bombardier fleet on the Mediterranean island.
Under the EU-OPS regime, Maltese authorities have recently cleared the aircraft for 120-minute ETOPS approval and also for Category 3A low-visibility operations, which allows it to operate at airports where visibility is down to 200 meters. It is now starting the process to be approved for operations down to just 75 meters. This will give the ACJs much greater operational flexibility and will avoid situations in which charter flights have to divert to less convenient alternate airports.
Comlux’s Toulouse-based ACJ completions operation–which it acquired from Airbus–is still extremely busy to the extent that there is no capacity for additional work. Nonetheless, the company is now bidding for three completions contracts for Bombardier aircraft and may do some of this work in Indianapolis.
Last month, Comlux entered into a partnership with Private Flight Global to upgrade the operator’s in-flight catering service for both its managed and charter operations around the world. The New Zealand-based company’s customized software will help Comlux to manage catering orders via a secure online application with delivery status monitored in real time and built-in notifications on schedule changes.