The recent award of three new completions contracts for VIP versions of Airbus and Boeing aircraft have prompted Comlux America to begin construction of a new hangar at its Indianapolis headquarters. The 64,500-sq-ft building is due to open in the second quarter of 2012 and will be able to accommodate four jets up to the size of a Boeing BBJ3.
The expansion plans should generate around 100 new jobs at Comlux America, which with its Comlux Aviation Services division has almost 300 on its payroll. In May, Airbus appointed the company as a factory-approved completions center for its ACJ family, and it has already performed full completions of a VIP Airbus ACJ320, as well as one for the rival BBJ3. It will soon be preparing interiors for Superjet’s new Sukhoi Business Jet.
The second Indianapolis hangar will incorporate shops dedicated to the various completions and refurbishment skills. Customers will enjoy direct access to their aircraft during projects from client offices also co-located with the new structure.
Comlux America has just completed an extensive refurbishment of a Boeing 767-200, which has just entered service with the company’s aircraft management and charter division Fly Comlux. The 767, which had to be recertified for its new commercial VIP role, has been registered under Comlux’s new Aruban aircraft operating certificate. Fly Comlux already holds AOCs in Switzerland, Malta (part of the European Union) and Kazakhstan. the new Aruba operation now provides a new offshore registration option for management clients.
Between its various cabin compartments, the 767 can carry up to 60 passengers in 1,700 sq ft of deck space. According to Comlux The Aviation Group president Richard Gaona, the extensively remodeled widebody is likely to find favor as a charter option for heads of state, royal families and government delegations. He expects it to prove popular in both African and Middle Eastern markets, since it is able to offer non-stop service between city pairs such as Riyadh and Washington, D.C. The aircraft will be based in Bahrain and is the first Boeing type to be operated by Comlux (Booth No. N5700), whose fleet already includes several ACJs and nine members of the Bombardier Global Express family.
In December, Fly Comlux is due to take delivery of the first of three Embraer Legacy 650s that it ordered earlier this year. The other two will arrive in 2012 and all three are to be operated under its AOC in Kazakhstan, where the Legacy’s range will be appreciated, because it is a six-hour flight from one end of the former Soviet republic to another.
Gaona claimed that the charter market has recently recovered. “We have achieved the shape that we want [with the Comlux group] and now we have to consolidate the business,” he told AIN. “The Arabic revolutions have made it tough in that region so we can’t rely on this alone, and we have to ensure that growth in any part of our business can support the other parts.”
Gaona believes that the Comlux group’s focus on the largest end of the business aircraft market has been vindicated, because this sector has held up better than smaller types in challenging trading conditions. He believes that when the first VIP versions of the new Boeing 787 and 747-8 start to enter the completions stage, this will once again squeeze capacity for BBJ and ACJ completions, further working to Comlux’s advantage. He estimated that Boeing and Airbus are each delivering around 10 of these jets each year.
Gulfstream Capability Grows
Meanwhile, Comlux Aviation Services–also based in Indianapolis–has received FAA approval to extend the capability of its Gulfstream repair station to cover GIVs and GIV-SPs. It is already approved to work on the older GII, GIIB and GIII models. The Indianapolis facility has a 30-plus-year heritage in business aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul, which predates its ownership by Comlux.
Comlux Aviation Services is also approved to provide support for Bombardier business aircraft. According to Gaona, the facility now has a backlog of work spanning three or more months, which is busier than it has been since Comlux took over.