Industry News from NBAA-BACE, Oct. 14

Inmarsat's 1,000th Jet ConneX

Inmarsat was at NBAA-BACE marking the 1,000th installation and activation of its Jet ConneX inflight connectivity solution.

Powered by Inmarsat’s global Ka-band satellite network, Global Xpress, Jet ConneX is a line-fit option with all major business jet manufacturers, including Bombardier, Dassault and Gulfstream. It uses Honeywell's JetWave hardware.

Inmarsat has received supplemental type certificate approvals for the service from the FAA and EASA, and across a number of platforms, OEMs and MRO service providers.

The company says its 1,000th activation comes against a backdrop of a recovering business aviation industry. A recent survey commissioned by Inmarsat and Corporate Jet Investor found that nearly 80% of respondents believe more frequent business trips will be taken in 2022 than 2021, and 90% believe that online activities will dominate time in transit.

“The business world has evolved considerably since the onset of COVID-19 and during times of unprecedented turbulence and instability, business leaders cannot afford to be disconnected,” says Kai Tang, Inmarsat’s head of business aviation. “As a result, we have experienced a rapid surge in demand for the fast, reliable and consistent inflight Wi-Fi that only Jet ConneX can deliver, wherever and whenever they fly. We believe this is a long-term trend that won’t level off as we come out of this COVID era.”

Duncan's New Manufacturing Department

Duncan Aviation announced the creation of Duncan Manufacturing Solutions (DMS), a new division focused on high-quality parts fabrication.

The Lincoln, Nebraska-based company has invested more than $4 million in the DMS facility, which was constructed adjacent to Duncan’s Turbine Engine Overhaul shop. The new facility has 21,000 ft.2 devoted to machining, metal work and composite capabilities.

“The expansion is exciting, and our ability to create complex geometries with tight tolerances is impressive, but it really is an extension of work we have performed for nearly 38 years through our FAA PMA (Parts Manufacturing Approval) authorization,” says Duncan Manufacturing Solutions Manager Scott Stenka.

Since 2015, Duncan’s Turbine Engine Services has gained new capabilities and increased efficiencies, leading the company to add room to accommodate larger engine and maintenance events. 

As such, the company’s engine washroom area was increased to 592 ft.2 and now includes a new overhead crane with baskets to improve the speed of moving and cleaning engine parts. Larger wash sinks allow for more parts to be cleaned at once. What used to take up to four technicians now takes only one, the company said.

Duncan has also previewed a new AOG promise for customers that contact the company by phone or online. Duncan promises that a Rapid Response Team member will return the message within 30 min., and within 1 hr. the company will follow up with labor availability and logistical planning. Within 24 hr., Duncan pledges to be onsite to address the situation, pending agreements and approvals.

Duncan has worked with Aviation Clean Air to acquire some portable Ion Distribution Units for on-site use. The electric-powered ionization units have been targeted at the decontamination of air and surfaces in aircraft interiors while on the ground. They can be used in other passenger areas like lounges, boarding areas and holding areas.

 Sheltair, Avfuel Partner on New Scholarship Program

Sheltair Aviation and Avfuel have expanded the scope of their partnership to include a new scholarship program called Future Takes Flight.

The scholarship will award $30,000 in educational funds annually, consisting of six $5,000 scholarships across two categories: two for learning to fly or for advanced pilot ratings, two for aviation technicians and two for continuing education.

“The Future Takes Flight scholarship program stems from a desire to reinvest in the aviation community we love and are so deeply passionate about,” says Sheltair President Lisa Holland. “The Sheltair and Avfuel teams felt the best way to do so was by providing meaningful financial support to aviators pursuing a greater commitment to business aviation. We’re giving back to the industry that has given us everything.”

 Traxxall Launches MRO Module

Traxxall announced the launch of a new MRO module that tracks time, tasks and labor costs, interoperates with existing automated systems, including accounting and flight scheduling and updates airworthiness bulletins and service bulletins. The module is subscription-based and web-based and complements the company’s maintenance tracking and inventory management modules, it says.

“We developed the MRO module as an extension of our expertise and because we identified a clientele that is underserved,” says Traxxall President Mark Steinbeck. “Traditional MRO software systems are complex and overpriced, due to large up-front implementation costs. Based on a subscription model, our Web-based module is simple, efficient and rightsized.” 

The MRO module is the latest in Traxxall’s evolution from a maintenance tracking company to a provider of aviation intelligence, the Montreal-based company says.

Mid-Continent Aviation Services Adding Jobs As It Expands

Mid-Continent Aviation Services (MCAS), a Wichita-based maintenance, repair and overhaul facility, plans to build a new 31,500-ft.2 hangar, in a $5.7 million project at Eisenhower National Airport in Wichita, and will double its workforce. The hangar will replace its existing 15,000- ft.2 hangar. MCAS announced the expansion at NBAA-BACE. 

“As a world-class MRO we are excited to expand our footprint and capabilities for our customers at Eisenhower National Airport. Being located in the ‘Air Capital of the World,’ the deep-rooted manufacturing skill sets of our local workforce have driven our past success–and we look forward to the next generation of growth for our team,” says MCAS Director Kelly Lousch. 

Mid-Continent Aviation Services is an FAA-approved Part 145 repair station supporting business jet, turboprop, piston and rotorcraft products. It focuses on Hawker 4000, Hawker 800 series and Beechcraft Premier models. The company is an affiliate of ICM, based in Colwich, Kansas.

The company will grow its team from 17 to more than 40 as a result. The existing hangar is expected to be operational in the first quarter of 2022. It will accommodate future work and includes a state-of-the-art infrastructure, the company says. 

Business Aviation Activity Beating Pre-Pandemic Numbers

Business jet and turboprop worldwide activity rose 7% in the first 10 days of October, compared to the same time period in October 2019, and up 35% compared to 2020, according to WingX Advance. By comparison, scheduled airline activity is 30% behind the same period in 2019. Since the beginning of summer, business aviation activity rose 10%. In the first nine months of 2021, business jet activity is up 3% compared to 2019, equaling 73,000 additional sectors flown compared to the first nine months of 2019. 

“The activity rebound in 2021 is increasingly being seen as a green light for faster industry growth the next few years, not just a one-off bounce from the pandemic,” says WingX Managing Director Richard Koe. 

In the U.S., Florida is the busiest state, with business jet departures up 40% in the first 10 days of October compared to the period in 2019. 

The U.S. charter market is driving activity, with demand rising 32% above comparable levels in 2019. Fractional operations are also strong, with no sign of slowing even as leading fractional operators restrict new registrations. Flight hours flown by aircraft management operators are up 15% and private activity, which includes corporate and individual flight departments are recovering as well. 

Nearly all U.S activity is domestic, according to WingX, with the average sector length 277 nm.

Lee Ann Shay

As executive editor of MRO and business aviation, Lee Ann Shay directs Aviation Week's coverage of maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO), including Inside MRO, and business aviation, including BCA.

Ben Goldstein

Based in Boston, Ben covers advanced air mobility and is managing editor of Aviation Week Network’s AAM Report.

Molly McMillin

Molly McMillin, a 25-year aviation journalist, is managing editor of business aviation for the Aviation Week Network and editor-in-chief of The Weekly of Business Aviation, an Aviation Week market intelligence report.