Comlux Takes World Lead in Airbus ACJneo
The Comlux aviation group has become the largest single customer for the Airbus ACJ320neo VVIP business jet with an order for a fourth aircraft.
Comlux has now ordered a total of 20 Airbus corporate jets over the last decade. “We are the No. 1 client ever of Airbus in the VIP market,” says Comlux executive chairman and CEO Richard Gaona.
While fighting on the world stage to win completions contracts, Comlux is unique in the industry in that it also purchases aircraft on its own books and resells them, hoping the clients will have them outfitted in its own completions center in Indianapolis. It can operate the finished aircraft, too, as the only company to offer such a broad range of services.
Comlux has now won completion contracts on four of the 15 ACJ320neo family aircraft sold by Airbus, the latest for DC Aviation Group. This makes Comlux the leading completions center for the type, says Gaona.
“This is a major achievement for a small company like ours,” which has invested perhaps $40 million in Comlux Completion in Indianapolis since its inception 10 years ago. Since then it has outfitted the full A320 family of aircraft as well as Boeing BBJs, and won the industry’s first Max 8 completions contract. In May it delivered the first Airbus ACJ330 VVIP Widebody completion, and it now operates the aircraft on its Aruba AOC (air operating certificate).
Gaona admits that Comlux’ strategy to buy aircraft before finding customers was very risky “and took some of my sleep,” but it has paid off. The company purchased three ACJneos and two MAXs soon after they were introduced, ensuring customers early availability as airlines swamped the production lines at Airbus and Boeing. That inventory also justified Comlux investing several millions of dollars in design software and new materials for the digital aircraft.
“Now we have shown that we are the leading center for these types,” says Gaona.
The MAX will feature new designs for the seats, with new materials that Comlux is using for the first time, while the first neo is more practical in its requirements. Both aircraft will be relatively light when completed. They are the first aircraft that Comlux has designed completely digitally; an advancement that is expected to cut completion downtime to a maximum of 10 months from today’s more normal 12-15 months.
“If you want to stay on the top of the market you really need to innovate,” says Gaona. “You really need to adapt yourself to new technologies that are coming on the market.”