FlyExclusive Eyes Third-Party Work For MRO Base

Cessna Citation Sovereign
flyExclusive exhibited a Citation Sovereign at the 2022 NBAA White Plains Regional Forum.
Credit: Bill Carey

Private jet travel provider flyExclusive is enhancing its own fleet and scaling up its capability to service third-party aircraft.

Based at Kinston Regional Jetport (KISO) in Kinston, North Carolina, flyExclusive offers jet-club, fractional and charter programs and is substantially expanding its MRO capabilities. The company operates an owned and leaseback fleet of 40 Cessna Citation Excel/XLS, 12 Citation X, 12 Citation CJ3, 10 Citation Encore and seven Citation Sovereign models as well as seven Gulfstream GIV-SPs. It claims to be the world’s second-largest Citation operator.

Garmin G5000 Upgrade

Garmin G5000 flight deck
The Garmin G5000 installed on a Cessna Citation Excel. Credit: flyExclusive

The company says it has completed the first of 10 planned flight deck upgrades of its Citation Excels, replacing the twinjet’s Honeywell Primus 1000 avionics suite with the Garmin G5000 glass cockpit. The retrofit saves an estimated 200 lb. in weight and features three 14-in. primary flight and multifunction displays, dual touchscreen display/controllers, ADS-B Out functionality, digital automatic flight control system with emergency descent mode, integrated GPS/WAAS flight management system and other modern amenities.

Garmin obtained supplemental type certificate (STC) approval of the upgrade on the Citation Excel/XLS models in 2019, at the time placing the cost at about $500,000-$550,000. FlyExclusive has partnered on its upgrade program with Dallas-based completions and maintenance house Force Aviation, a Garmin Platinum Dealer, and will obtain STC certification to perform installations at its KISO maintenance base.

Work on the second and third Excels was underway in June in a new, 45,000-sq-ft maintenance facility that flyExclusive will officially christen late this summer or fall. Aircraft downtime required for the upgrade is about eight weeks. The company expects to complete installations by the first quarter of 2023.

“There are many advantages to the upgrade, including notable features such as aircraft reliability and pilot satisfaction, with an advanced interface like the G5000,” said Lisa Christine, flyExclusive senior director for MRO development. 

“For our fleet and external clients, the minimal downtime and increased longevity of the aircraft comes with unbeatable time and cost savings, fuel gains and features,” Christine added. “There are also wonderful advantages for our technicians as well gaining experience that [improves] their skillsets as we continue to provide state-of-the-art solutions.”

New Facilities

flyExclusive maintenance hangar
New maintenance hangar at Kinston Regional Jetport. Credit: flyExclusive

In October 2021, flyExclusive unveiled new electrostatic painting and coating and aircraft interior refurbishment facilities in Kinston. The new maintenance hangar, which can accommodate as many as two Gulfstream GV-SPs and 4-5 smaller aircraft, is coming on line and a similar facility is already being planned, executives said.

With its new maintenance and refurbishment capacity, flyExclusive aims to serve other customers as well as its own fleet of 88 business jets.

“The intention to build our own paint facility and go state-of-the-art with it, and the same thing with our interior shop, was to not just refurbish and maintain our existing fleet but to open it up to third-party opportunities,” said Brandon Greene, flyExclusive senior vice president of fleet development.

“The goal is to do as much third-party work as we can and bring business and commerce to Kinston and these facilities,” added Greene, who spoke with BCA during the NBAA White Plains Regional Forum in New York. “It’s the most advanced paint shop in the Southeast. We’re the only Part 135 charter operator that has their own paint facility.”

Bringing more of its own maintenance in house also helps flyExclusive manage its fleet, Greene said.

“We outsource a significant amount of maintenance to other partners that we work with,” Greene said. “By doing that, you lose a lot of flexibility in terms of downtime. Bringing much of that scheduled maintenance in-house—we have 150 maintenance technicians—allows us to have much more control over the process and the return-to-service of the aircraft.”

Bill Carey

Based in Washington, D.C., Bill covers business aviation and advanced air mobility for Aviation Week Network. A former newspaper reporter, he has also covered the airline industry, military aviation, commercial space and unmanned aircraft systems. He is the author of 'Enter The Drones, The FAA and UAVs in America,' published in 2016.