Having combined its maintenance and completions businesses earlier this year, Comlux America now is expanding into the business of outfitting widebody VVIP aircraft.
“We can handle up to the size of a-8 or anything in between at our Indianapolis center,” says Comlux America CEO David Edinger. “And we can expand without interrupting our activities on narrowbody VIP aircraft.
“I have always wanted to do the first, and now I can take it on,” he joked here at NBAA.
Comlux will add a 52-ft.-deep, 29,000-sq-ft extension to its year-old, custom-built 128,000-sq-ft completions center, which can currently hold fourACJ/ BBJ-size aircraft. The extension, which will have a higher roofline, will allow one widebody to be accommodated as well as two narrowbodies.
Why enter the widebody market? “Because it is booming, while Airbus and Boeing are struggling with sales of new narrowbody VIP aircraft,” which means less demand (and more competition) for narrowbody completions in the future, says Edinger. He plans to keep his workforce busy with the new line of widebodies.
While the world’s completions centers have added capacity to meet demand for 12-year maintenance checks and cabin refurbishments on older BBJ and Airbus aircraft, these are quicker turnaround and less labor-intensive than green completions. For this work, Comlux can handle two large narrowbodies at a time.
With the expansion into widebodies Comlux will effectively have cut its “green” narrowbody completions capacity from four to two at a time. “But one widebody is equivalent to three narrowbodies, so I can do that and still take two narrowbodies if I want, with only a relatively small increase in capacity.”
Asked whether Comlux can manage the much more complex completions of widebody aircraft, Edinger points out that he and many of his staff have managed numerous widebody projects in their long careers, even though Comlux itself has not. The company is already talking to two potential widebody launch customers., and will launch the expansion when the first one signs up.
Earlier this year Comlux rolled its maintenance business, Comlux Aviation Services, into Comlux America, relieving the need for parallel administrations and regulatory approvals as the MRO expanded its capabilities from Gulfstreams and Globals into refurbs and maintenance of Airbus and BBJ aircraft. Comlux just delivered its first C check on an Airbus ACJ319, for Jet Premier One of Malaysia, which had cabin refurbs, revarnishing and painting carried out at the same time.
“We’re really excited about how this enables us to streamline the business,” Edinger says. “Now there’s only one operation, and we can move man power around more easily. No one is losing their job.” Indeed, Comlux’s payroll is expected to increase from 383 employees to 500 by the end of next year.
Right now, Comlux is riding a wave. “We had five aircraft in a hangar designed for four, and another one outside,” he says. Three of them, U.S. registered and awaitingSTCs, are ready to leave as soon as the recovers from the recent shutdown of the U.S. government.