Out on the NBAA static display Comlux Aviation is showcasing an upgraded addition to its charter/management fleet in the shape of an Airbus A318 Elite featuring performance- and appearance-enhancing polished wings slats. The Switzerland-based business aviation services group has now certified the modification in partnership with Belgian aerostructures specialist Sonaca and is offering it to other Airbus Corporate Jetliner operators. Sonaca makes wing slats for all Airbus aircraft.
Comlux is preparing to put the polished slat touch on a VIP-configured A320 at its U.S. maintenance and completions facility in Indianapolis. The company has started evaluating the aerodynamic performance improvement on flights with its A318 Elite and expects to be able to confirm the results within around six months.
According to Comlux president Richard Gaona, the Indianapolis operation that the group opened in April is getting busier while also expanding its capabilities. The Comlux America division there is in the process of completing a green A320 that is due to enter service in January. It has recently been approved by Boeing as an authorized completions center and expects this same official recognition from Airbus to follow soon.
Also located at the Indianapolis International Airport is its Comlux Aviation Services subsidiary, which is an authorized service facility for Bombardier business aircraft. The operation recently performed refurbishments on three members of the Global jet family and has seen an upturn in work after what Gaona conceded had been a quiet year in 2009, with utilization of small- and medium-size business aircraft hit by the U.S. recession.
Comlux America currently has capacity to complete about four aircraft each year. The group has now decided to boost this by building a second hangar at the site and this should be ready for use from mid-2011. Eventually, the company would like to start completing larger widebodies, including the A330 and Boeing 777 types. When Comlux bought the former Indianapolis Jet Center in 2008 it had about 100 employees, and this has since increased to 250, out of the group's global head-count of 450.
Meanwhile, in the charter sector, Gaona told AIN that demand has been picking up of late with 40 to 50 percent growth over the recent summer months. In February, Comlux added a Global Express to its fleet and this has already logged an impressive 600 hours.
Adding to its charter/management operations in Europe and Kazakhstan, Comlux (Booth No. 3851) has also established an office in Bahrain to tap the growing Middle Eastern market. With much of the demand in that region at the top end of the market, the company has stationed an A318 and an A319 there. Through its relatively new partnership with Beijing-based operator Deer Jet it is starting to get access to the Chinese market.
The overall fleet now includes five Airbus bizliners and 13 Bombardier jets (a mix of Global and Challenger models). The company expects to add another Airbus by year-end, along with another Global 5000.