Two competitors with separate programs that convert Bombardier CRJs into executive jets combined forces in March, when Peterborough, Ontario-based Flying Colours acquired JetCorp of St. Louis, Mo.
The two companies had developed competing programs for the CRJ–Flying Colours’s is called Execliner, while JetCorp’s was branded Renaissance, and now the two are joined. Flying Colours also was performing green completions on the new Bombardier Challenger 850, an updated version of the CRJ designed for executive use. To date, it has completed four CRJ conversions and JetCorp has completed two. The acquisition also allows Flying Colours to increase its capacity for completing green 850s and it sent the first one to JetCorp for completion there in September.
Combining these programs to drive greater efficiencies and the natural synergies of the organizations propelled the acquisition, explained Sean Gillespie, Flying Colours’s director of sales and marketing. “We talked about this for a long time,” he said. “[JetCorp] is a big MRO and a big avionics shop, and we have a big paint shop, so there are a lot of synergies other than completions and conversions.”
Flying Colours currently holds a contract to repaint 100 Flight Options’ fractional-share jets and has finished approximately 30 aircraft so far. The organizations also are sharing personnel–Flying Colours employs 170; JetCorp 120.
Even with this added capacity, finding qualified staff remains a top priority for Flying Colours. “Actively recruiting while you are growing is not an easy job these days,” said Gillespie. The company is meeting the challenge in part through the creation of a four-month “fundamentals of aircraft interiors” program at nearby Fleming College. The course includes “everything from sheet metal to upholstery,” Gillespie said. The fourth class recently graduated and Flying Colours hired 75 percent of the graduates. The program substantially reduces training time for new hires once they are on the payroll and has worked well, he added. Over the last 18 months, Flying Colours hired 40 of the program’s graduates, and the company may need more.
Gillespie said Flying Colours and JetCorp plan to execute 10 to 12 CRJ conversions and Challenger 850 completions in 2010 as well as perform substantial work on 30 to 40 other corporate aircraft, including Challengers, Globals, Falcons and Gulfstreams. “The refurb market has picked up quite a bit over the last few months and we’ve built a lot of new business over the last two years,” he said. He added that, after being approached by several customers, the company is evaluating whether or not to offer completions and refurbs on larger aircraft within the next two to four years.