VIP aircraft outfitters expect the return of the 737 Max, reapproved today by the FAA, to spark an uptick in completions activity. “It’s our feeling that the grounding of the Max had a bigger impact than Covid-19 on narrowbody VIP completions,” AMAC Aerospace COO Bernd Schramm told AIN.
Some potential buyers might avoid the model because of its accident history, but given the scrutiny and retesting during the Max’s 20-month grounding, others believe “it will be the safest aircraft in the world,” Schramm said. “We’ve experienced both scenarios.” One contracted completion client canceled their order; the second customer’s BBJ Max 9 is expected to arrive at AMAC’s Basel facility in March, and the buyer was more committed to the Max in the grounding’s aftermath.
Meanwhile, following an initial halt to institute pandemic safety protocols, completion and refurbishment facilities have been mostly immune to Covid-19’s impact. “It doesn’t hinder our operations,” said AMAC director of business development and marketing Waleed Muhiddin. If not in place before the pandemic, providers have established robust electronic communication links, and customers aren’t expecting quick turns on these bespoke projects.
AMAC itself delivered a reconfigured and refurbished BBJ 747-8 this month; is completing an ACJ320neo for a government client; and preparing for arrival of a green ACJ319neo in the first quarter, among other projects.