Stork refurb business extends to large aircraft

 - May 10, 2007, 6:07 AM

Business aviation is not new to Stork Aerospace (Booth No. 652). The Dutch aerostructures specialist is long established in this market segment, having made significant contributions to business jets such as the Gulfstream IV and V (for which it designed and built the tail sections), the Cessna Citation Sovereign and various Dassault Falcon jets. It also contributed to the development of Hawker Beechcraft’s Horizon and the Sino Swearingen SJ30-2.

Stork also has successfully refurbished a number of Fokker F28 airliners with all-new executive interiors and complete cockpit upgrades. The company–which was formed following the acquisition of some of the assets of bankrupt Dutch airframer Fokker–has a significant track record of converting types such as Fokker 100s and 70s, as well as GVs, for VIP or special mission roles, including medical evacuation and electronic surveillance.

While the group’s heritage lies in head-of-state and corporate Fokker aircraft, it is expanding its scope of activities into other aircraft types. For instance, the company is in the final stages of refurbishing a used Bombardier CRJ700 and is about to hand it over to its owner in the Middle East. It has also been completing a green Airbus A319 in Airbus Corporate Jetliner configuration.

These completions are done by Fokker Services, a subsidiary of Stork Aerospace, which operates a new dedicated facility at Woensdrecht air force base in the south of The Netherlands. The company has five hangars measuring more than 170,000 sq ft which can accommodate up to 30 aircraft, and a dedicated workforce of more than 1,000. Its approvals include European Aviation Safety Agency design organization and U.S. Federal Aviation Administration Part 145 certification.

Fokker Services views the Middle East as the market that will generate the largest demand for VIP completion services for large-cabin business jets. The company also sees significant demand for such aircraft emanating from Russia.

The CRJ700 VIP conversion for the Middle East client involved taking out the complete existing airliner interior (the aircraft was originally built for a Delta Connection regional carrier) and installing a three-cabin executive interior with 21 seats. The interior includes new side-wall and ceiling panels, sound-proofing materials and satellite communications, as well as in-flight entertainment and cabin management systems. This will be the first executive conversion of the CRJ700 twinjet, which seats 70 passengers in airline service.

Given the aircraft’s favorable performance characteristics and the expected near-term availability of low-time aircraft, Stork expects significant further demand for more conversions.

“It is the first time we have had a CRJ in our facilities for VIP configuration, but as a third-party contractor for Lufthansa Technik we have already carried out some work on Lufthansa CityLine’s CRJs,” explained Fokker Services marketing manager Peter van Oostrum.

ACJ Completion Under Way
An Airbus ACJ was delivered green to Stork’s factory at Woensdrecht in mid-March to be completed for Austria’s Stumpf Group. Delivery of the completed aircraft is planned for October, depending on the outcome of ongoing discussions about additional work.

The project will entail the total design, engineering, certification and actual installation of the heavily customized interior. The cabin interior design will be crafted by Fokker Services in cooperation with Germany’s Industrial Design Mahler. It will feature four compartments, including a private bedroom with adjacent restroom, shower, galley, lavatory and crew rest areas. Satcom, IFE and cabin management systems will also be incorporated.

According to Fokker, one of the strongest areas of demand in the short term is for completions of green A318s and A319s. An unidentified Middle East customer has just contracted the company to outfit a new A318. Normally, this area of work has largely fallen to Lufthansa Technik (Booth No. 1240), which has a partnership agreement with Airbus to complete the first 20 of these aircraft in 14- to 18-seat configurations.

The A318 floor plan being prepared by Fokker will be different from LHT’s proposed Elite configuration. The exact specifications are currently under discussion and the aircraft is scheduled to arrive at Fokker Services’ facilities in October.

Russia Wants VIP Fokkers
Meanwhile, there continues to be significant interest, especially from Russia, for VIP conversions of the Fokker 100 twinjet. “The problem with the Fokker 100 is that it proved so popular with airlines that it is difficult to find an aircraft with a suitable configuration [high takeoff weight, large cargo compartment and so forth],” explained van Oostrum.

Fokker Services is currently developing an auxiliary fuel tank system (AFTS) on behalf of Russian operator Moscow Sky to be installed, initially, in three Fokker 100s. The AFTS will boost their range to just over 3,100 nm through the installation of four extra fuel tanks. The range extension will enable Moscow Sky to serve destinations such as the Spanish resort of Malaga and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates nonstop from Moscow. EASA certification of the fuel tank mod and deliveries are set for next month.

After the mods are completed, these VIP-configured Fokker 100s, featuring four luxurious passenger cabin compartments, plus two fully equipped service areas, will go to Belgium-based Sabena Technics (Booth No. 1156) for further refurbishment.

Fokker Services is also looking to tap additional demand for the completion of green Boeing Business Jets, for which a shortage of completion capability exists, as well as conversions of pre-owned 737s. The Dutch group already has some experience with the Boeing 737 as a qualified repair station for the airliner family.

“We will complete five aircraft this year and plan to have eight to nine aircraft completions next year,” concluded van Oostrum.