MEBAA Convention News

Bizliner-centric AMAC Expands Services and Subsidiaries

 - December 6, 2022, 1:18 AM
A tech in the AMAC workshop in Bodrum, Turkey. (Photo: AMAC)

After establishing its reputation as a VIP airliner completion specialist, AMAC Aerospace (Static A24) has diversified both its aircraft services and portfolio of subsidiaries—growth the Swiss company is showcasing this week at MEBAA 2022. Meanwhile, the world’s first VIP Airbus ACJ350 is undergoing completion at its Basel headquarters, as are a trio of ACJ and Boeing BBJ narrowbodies, with more green aircraft inductions scheduled for next year.

AMAC’s growth in the aircraft services arena includes “diversifying our outlook regarding special requests,” to facilitate more customized engineering solutions in its completions and refurbishments, said COO Bernd Schramm. He cited satcom and self-defense—AMAC is a channel lead partner for OEMs in both product categories—as two such installations, the latter represented by laser-based directed infrared systems to counter portable surface-to-air missiles.

Its expanding completion and modification offerings dovetail with the continued growth of AMAC’s VIP airliner MRO business. “When there’s a fairly long maintenance downtime, we are able to offer turnkey solutions for minor modification refurbishments inside the cabins as well,” Schramm said.

AMAC has become a maintenance center for widebody aircraft, having hosted as many as five Boeing 747-8is in its facility at one time. The company has also seen rising demand for work on ACJ330s and BBJ 777s, Schramm said. But he resisted the notion that widebody MRO represented a specialty of the house.

“I see it as something that happened because customers are satisfied with what we do,” he said. Regardless of aircraft category, he added, “Every customer gets the same focus, the same attention.”

Schramm pointed to Hangar Five, its large-cabin business jet MRO facility in Basel, as evidence of this customer-centric approach. Since its opening in March 2021, more than 300 maintenance inputs have gone through Hangar Five.

Activity at its MRO facility in Bodrum, Turkey, has also been “very strong” this year, propelled by a combination of VIP and airliner maintenance. In fact, AMAC plans to begin building a second widebody hangar at this location next year.

Meanwhile, the outfitting of the first ACJ350 for a U.S. client is proceeding in Basel, with redelivery scheduled for the first quarter of 2024. An ACJ320neo and BBJ Max 8 and Max 9 are also in completion, and a BBJ Max 7 is slated for induction pending the model’s certification.

Boeing awaits U.S. Congressional action to waive or extend the FAA’s late-December deadline for certification of both the Max 7 and Max 10, after which they, like all future transport aircraft, will require next-generation crew alerting systems. Boeing believes the deadline will be waived, ensuring all Max models share a common alerting system and that service entry of the last two proposed Max models won’t be further delayed.

Additional completion projects for the new year include a BBJ Max 8 and ACJ320 for autumn inductions. The projects all require earlier design specification definition and component orders, as lead times for items such as seats, in-flight entertainment equipment, some electrical parts, and soundproofing “are getting longer and longer,” Schramm said.

AMAC also refurbishes VIP aircraft, and aftermarket demand for executive airliners has been high—transactions that often presage refurbishment activity as new owners remake the cabins to their own taste. “We’re receiving more inquiries now for refurbishments after secondhand purchase,” said Schramm, but a spike in orders “has not hit us yet.”

And while AMAC expects to see increased completion activity in 2023, primarily on the narrowbody side, it doesn’t anticipate a big bump in orders industry-wide.

“When we talk to Boeing and Airbus, we don't hear or feel an expectation that there will be an expected increase in VIP aircraft sales,” Schramm said. “We are still staying around in the six to eight [orders annually] per OEM.”

Some of AMAC’s forthcoming cabins could be outfitted for low-earth-orbit broadband connectivity via StarLink’s constellation. “We are ready to install the system, but there are delays in product readiness,” said Schramm. As examples, he noted that AMAC has not been able to evaluate the system’s performance or received final price quotes. But, he added, “If it delivers what they promise, it will be a good alternative to the traditional Ka- and Ku-band systems.”

Expansion and diversification underlies AMAC’s subsidiary portfolio as well. JCB Aero, its French composite aerostructures manufacturer, saw a drop in commercial aircraft work in the aftermath of Covid, but responded by branching into marine work—building interior structures for yachts—and now that end of the business is growing as commercial aerospace work rebounds.

This year AMAC acquired UK-based Gamit, whose digital data and technical records management software it has long used. AMAC believes this software can have much wider application in the Part 121 commercial sector, in addition to supporting its own increased Continuing Airworthiness Management Organization maintenance activity.

Expanding its own footprint in the Middle East, AMAC will open an office in Riyadh in 2023, it said.

This week at the MEBAA Show, the company has a score of team members on hand meeting attendees, including Schramm; Waleed Muhiddin, director of business development and marketing; and top representatives from JCB Aero, Gamit, and AMAC’s Bodrum MRO facility.

“We definitely like to meet our local customers,” said Schramm. “Whether from Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Oman, the UAE, or Jordan, our focus will be on this customer.”