Jet Aviation expands its successful completions business

 - May 4, 2007, 12:02 PM

Jet Aviation is here at EBACE’07 (Booth No. 776) with recent news of its launching a $35 million investment program at its Basel facility to add ramp space and a hangar large enough to accommodate an Airbus A380 and a Boeing B747 simultaneously. The expansion will more than double its existing 248,000 sq ft of covered space and by next year will increase the completion shop’s annual capacity to 20 Dassault Falcons (with the first green 7X to arrive soon), plus six airliners. The company is also hiring up to 400 additional staff.

The Basel facility is an official completion center for green Falcon 900EXs and 2000EXs, as well as Boeing BBJs and Airbus ACJs. In addition, the company offers VIP cabin completions for used executive aircraft such as Gulfstreams and Bombardier Challengers. The shop also has outfitted several B737s, 757s, 767s and 747s. The largest aircraft currently in Basel are an A330 and a 747-400; a green A340-600 is scheduled to arrive in early 2008.

Jet Aviation has been involved in business aviation since its founding 40 years ago, and it has been outfitting business aircraft for most of that time. Its completions center opened at Basel in 1975 and has developed into one of the Swiss group’s prime successes. Out of Jet Aviation’s current worldwide staff of 5,200, 1,330 work at the Basel facility.

“The fact that we have completion and maintenance shops side-by-side enhances the flexibility we offer our customers,” Eugen Hartl, manager of the completion and modification department, told EBACE Convention News. “We can, for instance, change carpets and refresh wood furniture while an executive jet is in maintenance,
or we can service engines, avionics and airframe components while the interior
is stripped down and replaced.”

Jet Aviation’s maintenance shop, working alongside the completion center, is a factory-approved service center for Airbus, Boeing, Dassault, Gulfstream and Bombardier. The facility is approved by both U.S. and European authorities. Together, the completion and maintenance departments have an average of 60 aircraft in their shops at any given time, ranging in size from Cessna Citations and Bombardier Learjets to BBJs and widebody airliners.

The Basel completions team has outfitted more than 60 Falcons to date, as well as 10 VIP-configured airliners, and about an equal number of BBJs and single-aisle Airbus models. The first airliner converted by Jet Aviation for private use in the 1970s was a Convair 880, followed by a B707 and a series of 727s.

The completion shop’s current capacity is about 12 Falcons, plus two widebody and four single-aisle airliners per year. New Falcons arriving in green condition receive custom exterior paint in Jet Aviation’s paint shop.

Last month, eight Falcon 900EXs delivered green from the French manufacturer’s assembly plant were in various stages of completion. It was also outfitting three widebody jets–two A319s and a BBJ. Basel’s completions backlog stretches into 2009, which reflects airframers’ current delivery schedules. The facility can insert into the workflow partial interior modifications with shorter lead times. According to the company, it can complete a custom interior of a large airliner in about one year, while it can complete green Falcons in an average of three months.

Jet Aviation Basel employs 20 interior architects designing to customer specifications and works with renowned freelance designers such as Philippe Starck and Francis Munch. The company’s in-house engineering, cabinetry, upholstery, fiberglass, metalworking and paint shops produce most of the interior furniture and other elements.

With last year’s acquisition of Midcoast Aviation, the Jet Aviation group acquired a second major completion center. As Midcoast specializes in Bombardier products–it is the only Bombardier completion center outside Canada–it ideally complements the company’s Basel facility. With Midcoast integrated into the group, its major competitors on the completion market are Lufthansa Technik for airliners and Associated Air Center in Dallas, Texas, plus a number of smaller shops in Europe and the U.S.

Completions manager Hartl sees quality and flexibility as the competitive edge of Jet Aviation’s completion shop. “The craftsmanship of our specialists is recognized worldwide and we reduce aircraft downtime to the minimum,” he said. “In addition, we have no exclusive ties to any particular aircraft manufacturer.”

The company claims to offer comprehensive executive aircraft services, including maintenance, purchasing assistance, aircraft sales and management, as well as crew selection. “And here in Basel, we offer a true one-stop shop to owners of executive aircraft and VIP-configured airliners wishing to freshen up or completely change their interiors, or carry out maintenance work,” Hartl concluded.