BAe Systems signs up Avro Business Jet team

 - May 20, 2008, 9:24 AM

“Wake up, smell the coffee: the Avro Business Jet (ABJ) has arrived!” is the message from BAe Systems Regional Aircraft and two new partners announced here yesterday. As reported in Tuesday’s EBACE Convention News, the UK manufacturer has teamed with maintenance and cabin-interiors specialists to provide a one-stop shop for prospective customers looking for a large-capacity corporate jet. Inflite Engineering Services will provide custom completion and necessary maintenance and modification of candidate BAe 146 and Avro RJ quadjets, while consultancy Design Q is to offer interior designs. 

Potential customers checking out Inflite’s credentials will have two reasons for warm feelings when they enter its London Stansted Airport hangars, according to managing director Steve Buckingham: the 146/Avro RJs aircraft being maintained on behalf of flag-carriers and the fact that Inflite recognizes that a coffee-maker is the most important piece of equipment on a corporate jet. He said Inflite has completed 500 146/RJ maintenance ‘C’ checks.

“We have also built up our expertise in the corporate conversions market [and] work closely with design houses to produce varied interiors and in-flight entertainment options,” said Buckingham. Inflite’s most-recent project has been an Avro RJ100 for the Bahrain Defence Force delivered this month. It also has been working closely with BAe and Design Q on conversion of an RJ70 executive interior for VVIP use by Bulgaria’s Hemus Air after delivery, which is expected by September.

This machine is the first such aircraft with a Design Q interior. It will involve a three-element cabin comprising double “club-four” seating, divan and dining area, and 12-seat business-class section. Design Q claims a customer base that includes the Flight Vision flight-deck design for the Bombardier Global Express, “upper-class” seats for Virgin Atlantic Airways, re-design of all classes through different Cathay Pacific Airways aircraft, and work on the Lufthansa Technik “celebrity jet.”

The company has an established reputation for its automotive work, following its founding in 1997 by principal designers at Jaguar Cars and through continuing activity on behalf of Ferrari and Maserati. It has designed a range of VIP interiors for rich operators or owners of private aircraft and helicopters. Design Q director Gary Doy said, “We know we can achieve highly individual work with [the 146/RJ] because its large cabin offers untold opportunities.

“There has been a [recent] shift in the values and aspirations of the VIP owner. Younger, more design-aware customers entering the market would like the [aircraft] interior to reflect the same values they have when buying a luxury car, yacht or new home. They are looking for a more-contemporary and high-quality interior solution, and there is a trend toward more-open-plan layouts and modern surface finishes.”