NBAA Convention News

Aloft Takes Aux Tanks to the Max

 - October 11, 2018, 9:00 AM

Aloft AeroArchitects, VIP airliner completion and MRO specialist, lands at NBAA 2018 between last month’s delivery of a new BBJ2 to a private company in Asia and next month’s intake for refurbishment of a BBJ on which the Delaware-based company installed the current interior 12 years ago.

The just-delivered BBJ2 features an Edése Doret-designed interior and the latest Astronics CMS and Honeywell Ka-band technology, said John Eichten, Aloft’s senior v-p for sales and marketing. The incoming BBJ’s interior was designed by Warja Borges of Germany’s Unique Aircraft and will be installed in conjunction with the jet’s 12-year check and landing gear overhaul.

At its two-story display area (Booth 1012), Aloft is showcasing its three core business lines: completions and MRO services; ODA engineering support; and precision manufacturing. A cross-section of representatives from the company’s sales, engineering, supply chain, and ODA team, led by company president and CEO Bob Sundin, is on hand to welcome attendees.

For its completions on the coming BBJ Max 8/9s, “Our approach is to tackle only one or two at a time so we can focus on the intricate details of each completion,” Eichten said. Meanwhile, MRO demand for BBJs has been “very strong” this year, driven by a combination of modification projects and maintenance, he said.

Aloft’s second business line, ODA (Organization Designation Authorization) and third-party engineering services, consists of internal certification engineers and ODA staff. External engagements range from STC development and certification to turnkey engineering, with the team’s ODA credentials covering “virtually every commercial aircraft in operation including the B787 and A350,” Eichten said.

Internally, ODA services have been “a game changer in our ability to process and issue STCs for our own designed products and services,” he continued. That includes STCs on major interior completions, technology upgrades, mandatory regulatory requirements such as its ABS-B Out STC for the BBJ, and STCs for its auxiliary fuel system. All told, Aloft anticipates issuing or amending more than 25 STCs this year, Eichten said. The fuel system STCs have been particularly important lately.

Aloft is the exclusive provider of auxiliary fuel systems for BBJs, and with the BBJ Max line poised to enter service, the company has been working on system upgrades to accommodate the new models and their more efficient engines. Aloft’s 737 Max 8 auxiliary fuel system “is currently being installed, tested and certified on the prototype aircraft, with STC issuance scheduled for later this year,” Eichten said.

The Max 8 system includes new, enhanced AFS tanks, LRUs, and maintenance-friendly tanks and installations, according to Aloft. The upgraded tanks have been engineered to maximize fuel capacity, speed fueling, and minimize reconfiguration efforts, and the system is fully integrated with the airplane’s ground fueling and fuel management system.

The third line of Aloft’s operations is the precision manufacturing group, makers of Aloft’s auxiliary fuel kits and Hollingsead International avionics, racks, trays, extractors, and avionics kitting, which have seen “an uptick in the growth” this year, said Eichten. “We expect double-digit growth next year.”

While acknowledging the bizliner completions market has “struggled” for the past three years, Eichten noted that BBJ Max aircraft and ACJneos are coming into production. “We see a long runway of opportunities globally for the completions market,” he said. He added that though Aloft is a BBJ completion specialist, “We would add the ACJ if the right opportunity presented itself.”