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publication
High N
et
Wo
John H rth Profile:
founde endrick
s
r and
form
cha
irman,
er
Comm Discovery
unicatio
ns
www.exvipaviationint.com
Louis David Spagnuolo
Chairman, Illuminati Trust, LLC & CEO, Don’t Look Media LLC
Special Reports - Completions: Comlux, Fokker, Flying Colours, Aeria Luxury Interiors
Company Profiles: Larry Flynn, President, Gulfstream; Alan Klapmeier, CEO ONE Aviation (Kestrel and Eclipse);
Mauro Grossi, CFO AMAC Aerospace; Sean McGeough, President, CEO, Nextant Aerospace; Chris Moore Chief Operating Officer, Satcom Direct
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OPINION
first thought
Just a speed bump?
We are now seven years on from the 2008 global financial crash and the
global economic motor is going through yet another bout of splutters and stutters. Both the US and the UK economies recorded pretty dismal data for the
first quarter of 2015, causing many companies to put any expansion plans they
might have had on the back burner for now. Of course, by now the business
aviation sector is pretty well accustomed to this perpetual stop/start, risk-on/
risk-off cycle and we are hearing a lot of cautious optimism, despite the disappointing headline figures. See our Macro Economic Window piece for a more
detailed pondering of the economic tea leaves.
This issue’s cover features one of the most charismatic entrepreneurs you
are ever likely to meet. Louis Spagnuolo has a knack for generating highly
profitable ventures with excellent prospects for concluding in what he terms “a
high liquidity” event. Plus we feature John Hendricks, the legendary founder of
The Discovery Channel, who has a passion for lifelong learning and now plans
to spend time jetting, with his wife, to a host of rich learning experiences, using
his own Dassault Falcon.
The EVA team was saddened to hear of the passing of Textron Executive
Peter Hall. I can only refer you to the excellent eulogy on page 4, written by
Patrick Jephson and sent to us by Sean McGeough, President of Nextant, who
worked closely with Peter for a number of years.
Our special report this issue focuses on completions and completions
houses. Any slowdown there may be is not proving much of an impediment to
business in this sector, which continues to thrive and where the major players
stand to benefit hugely with the first VVIP and head of state completions for
Boeing 787 Dreamliners already being delivered as green aircraft to some of
the major completions centres (see the feature on page 48).
In closing, as we all prepare for EBACE, we’d like to point out that EVA is
sending its largest ever team to Europe’s premier business aviation event. We’ll
be taking our place among the ranks of exhibitors so please stop by the EVA
stand (H062), we’re always keen to chat!
Above all, we hope you can make time as EBACE draws to a close to attend
EVA’s EBACE After Party, at Halle 22, Chemin des Batailles, 1214 Vernier. This
is the biggest venue and the most outstanding bash in Geneva, with the best
open-till-dawn bar, great music, great DJ, and great food. Come party the night
away in the company of your peers!! Those who remember EVA’s MEBA Party
in Dubai will not want to miss this one. Our sponsors, Satcom Direct, World
Fuel Services, Colt International, Global Jet Capital and Nextant Aerospace
have done us proud. This is a by invitation and tickets only event so do call
round and get your invitation from the EVA booth!
PARVEEN RAJA
Publisher
& Business Development Director
[email protected]
MAX RAJA
Founder & CEO of EVAA
[email protected]
MO BANKS
Accounts Executive
[email protected]
BHAVI ATUL
Events Coordinator
[email protected]
SHOBHANA PATEL
Head of Finance
fi[email protected]
CHARLOTTE WILLIS
Events Administrator
[email protected]
SHELDON PINK
Creative Director
[email protected]
EDITORIAL CONTRIBUTORS
Margie Goldsmith
and Megan Ramsay
Address changes and subscription orders to:
[email protected]
ISSN 1754-1166
PUBLISHED FOUR TIMES A YEAR BY
EVA International Media Ltd
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Tel: + 44 (0)208 253 4000
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ANTHONY HARRINGTON
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High Net
Worth
John Hen Profile:
dricks
founder
chairm and forme
r
an,
Comm Discovery
unications
www.exvipaviationint.com
DISTRIBUTED BY
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PUBLISHERS & EVENTS SPECIALISTS
COVER IMAGE:
Louis David Spagnuolo
Chairman, Illuminati Trust, LLC
& CEO, Don’t Look Media LLC
See cover story, page 6
Louis David Spagnuolo
Chairman, Illuminati Trust, LLC & CEO, Don’t Look Media LLC
Special Reports - Completions: Comlux, Fokker, Flying Colours, Aeria Luxury Interiors
Company Profiles: Larry Flynn, President, Gulfstream; Alan Klapmeier, CEO ONE Aviation (Kestrel and Eclipse);
Mauro Grossi, CFO AMAC Aerospace; Sean McGeough, President, Nextant Aerospace; Chris Moore Chief Operating Officer, Satcom Direct
I s s u e 3 0 © 2 0 15 | w w w. e va i n t . c o m
Content may not be reproduced in any format without
written permission from EVA International Media Ltd
Summer 2015 |
International
1
contents
6
Stay focused, stay strong
EVA’s cover story features the charismatic businessman Louis David Spagnuolo and his uplifting story of
how the American Dream is still alive and well in Florida!
16 Clear blue water
Gulfstream President Larry Flynn on how Gulfstream manages to keep its brand in the
top spot in business aviation.
Interiors special report
20 Loading for bear
Comlux’s latest hangar expansion puts it in great shape to win more wide-body completions
24 Panoramic views
Fokker’s amazing three bay window continues to charm designers and aircraft OEMs alike.
26 Singapore bound
Flying Colours opened a new completions centre, its third, at Singapore’s Seletar Aerospace Park in partnership
with Bombardier. EVA talked to VP Sean Gillespie about the new centre and the state of the completions market
28 Keep those orders coming
San Antonio based AERIA Luxury Interiors, has signed two more completions contracts
30 Curious about life
Discovery channel founder John Hendricks plans on using private jet travel to continue
his life-long learning mission
40 Remanufacturing gathers fans
Nextant President and CEO Sean McGeough celebrates orders on multiple continents
42 Nurturing growth through quality
G-OPS and HighProfile expand internationally
44 Family Values
EVA talks to AMAC CFO Mauro Grossi about the challenges of organic growth
48 Dreaming in the clouds
Boeing’s Dreamliner is now turning up in the big completions houses, nice work if you can get it.
54 Shooting for service excellence
EVA profile’s MRO specialist Vector Aerospace
56 Filling Chinese skies
Rick Adams talks to Jerry Chen about his vision for the iconic Mooney aircraft
62 The soul of a fighter jet plus luxury
Dassault Aviation takes on the task of developing two new Falcons
66 Bigger pipes in the sky
Satcom Direct Chief Commercial Officer Chris Moore on the next wave of high speed broadband at altitude
70 Jets Down Under
Jetcraft partner and five times former World 500cc motorcycle champion Mick Doohan
on the Australian pre-owned market
74 African Expansion
Max O. Cisse, founder and CEO of African Open Sky opens three new offices
77 Good times ahead?
EVA’s macro economic analysis looks for growth through the fog
2
International | Summer 2015
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IN MEMORIAM
Peter Hall
(1962 - 2015)
Pete Hall, who died unexpectedly on 5 March at the tragically early age of
52, will be remembered as one of a kind. In a distinguished career in aviation support, he epitomised that rare blend of qualities that sets apart the
truly talented from the merely capable.
Colleagues admired him as a consummate professional who was never too
busy (or too important) to offer guidance, encouragement and a kind word. In the
toughest meetings or on the most arduous field trip, his patience, determination
and optimism combined for just one purpose: to reach a successful result.
As in so much else, however, Pete had his own definition of success: it was only
complete when everybody felt they had a share in it… and in the celebration that
invariably followed.
Customers respected and valued him as the best in the business, a service provider with an instinctive understanding of their particular needs and expectations.
What’s more, he had the attitude and attributes to deliver without fail.
Friends – a group in which both colleagues and customers were habitually
embraced – gave thanks for his boundless hospitality, unfailing good humor and
faultless loyalty. And as for family, we need only say that a happy home life with
French-born Natacha was the rock on which all Pete’s success was built. Only when
England played France at rugby was his legendary equanimity known to desert
him… and then only for as long as it took to uncork a bottle; after all, in such a
partisan rugby household, for every defeat there was also a victory.
The key to Pete’s many achievements – and to the affection and esteem in
which he was held all over the world – was this generous breadth of vision. Not
for him the narrow sectional interests that bedevil so many operations: Pete was a
man who saw the big picture, who found solutions where others only found problems and who carried doubters and faint-hearts along on a wave of enthusiastic
determination. And when the job was done, his modest willingness to let others
take the credit proved yet again that he was a big man in every sense of the word.
Much of his work went unseen and that was fine by him so long as the overall
aim was achieved. But you always knew that when Pete was on your team he
would spare no effort to make you look good, especially when everything else was
turning bad. Nowhere was this more true – or more appreciated – than in his support for the sales force. Over and over again, their success was built on his willingness to sacrifice his time, effort and convenience. Like so many others, they grew to
realise that, in an age where ’professional courtesy’ has lost much of its meaning,
Pete Hall was the exception. Service wasn’t just what he did – it was what he lived.
That is the height and depth of our loss, not just to family, friends and
colleagues but to the aviation community worldwide. While we will miss his
laughter, his enthusiasm and his irrepressible appetite for life, we will also
remember what it meant to know such a great spirit and – even in our sadness –
find so many reasons to be glad. Q
Patrick Jephson is a freelance writer and broadcaster and a New York Times
bestselling author. He is a partner in the JephsonBeaman communications,
branding and leadership consultancy based in Washington, DC.
[email protected]
4
International | Summer 2015
“The best in the business”
INTERVIEW : LOUIS DAVID SPAGNUOLO
The art of
6
International | Summer 2015
INTERVIEW : LOUIS DAVID SPAGNUOLO
staying
focused
Anthony Harrington talks to Louis David Spagnuolo
W
hen Louis David Spagnuolo reflects on what
made him successful, and on how he is able to
keep that success rolling, what occurs to him
is the degree to which he commits to what he
is doing, versus how most of the rest of us go
about things. For him, luck is about grabbing
the breaks when they come along and adding to the momentum fate
and fortune may have provided, through hard work and an intense
focus on what you are engaged in. It’s about constantly reflecting and
analysing, turning whatever you are involved in round and round like
a Rubik’s cube in your head so that you see as many of the angles as
you can. It is also about enriching your experience by developing your
own network of contacts – working with your peers to keep those insights coming, both for you and for them. But this doesn’t mean sitting
around waiting for others to help you. “Life is hard. Just bite the bullet
and do it yourself,” is one of his key guiding principles.
The son of a first-generation Italian American couple, Spagnuolo’s
start in life was the very opposite of privileged. It is often said that the
old story of the American dream, that anyone can make it in America
if they apply themselves, is dead and buried in today’s world. Wage
growth in the US has been flat for a decade and is still the biggest
missing factor in the slow recovery from the 2008 global financial
crash. Spagnuolo’s achievements, however, spectacularly prove that
entrepreneurship is alive and well in the US and that the dream is still
there for those who can see and seize those transformative moments
when they come along.
Summer 2015 |
International
7
INTERVIEW : LOUIS DAVID SPAGNUOLO
What first gave me a shove
in a life-changing direction
was being the first man to
have Dwayne Johnson, aka
The Rock, lay his trademark
‘Smack Down’ on me
Q: There wasn’t much money around during
your childhood and when you went to the
University of Miami you found yourself among
students from very wealthy families. How did
that affect you?
A: It was hard to miss the fact that most of
the students around me had wealthy parents.
They had brand new cars and many of them had
more money than they knew what to do with.
By way of contrast I was really strapped for cash
and was doing two jobs as well as studying, just
to survive and to try and get through the whole
university experience. I was very young and my
first reaction was anger that they could have
three, four or five meals a day and I was battling
to get one meal. I used to go round the back of
the cafeteria and ask if there was something
they could give me. The staff was really gracious
when I needed food, and I still remember that
with gratitude. But it was a difficult time for me
to see such disparity of wealth. It made me angry
and jealous, to start with. But it ended up really
motivating me so much that I told myself I was
going to see to it that I was never going to have
this hard a time again.
Q: So what was your first break?
A: Ironically, what first gave me a shove in a
life-changing direction was being the first man
to have Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock, lay his
trademark ‘Smack Down’ on me. Dwayne and
some of his buddies from the University of Miami
football team had come down to this bar where
8
International | Summer 2015
I was working security. They were kind of loud
and we got into an altercation which ended with
me getting beat up so bad it made me call time
on my career as a security man. I’m six foot four
and weighed about 265 lbs, so that was kind of
an easy career for me to fall into when I needed
cash, but that encounter with The Rock made
me see that it wasn’t exactly a sustainable way
forward. I decided that using your brain is ultimately vastly more powerful than anything else
you have. So everything since, in a way, grew out
of that experience.
The next day I was going to class, pretty
bruised and sore, when Dwayne and three of his
friends approached me. I thought, oh oh, here we
go again, and put down the books I was carrying.
But Dwayne said, “Hold on, we just want to talk.”
It was the week before the Bowl Game and it
turned out they were worried that I was going to
report them to coach Erickson, which would have
gotten them thrown off the team. II said, “Hey,
what happened happened and that’s the end of
it.” They respected that. After that The Rock and
I became friends and I got close to all the guys
on the football team. Dwayne lives about 15 minutes from me now and we laugh and joke when
we see each other.
What happened next also flowed out of this
whole experience. I was approached by three
very wealthy students, all from South America.
They were real geek-types, introverted, shy. They
said they had a project they wanted to talk to
me about. I still had a black eye and sundry
aches and thought, why are these kids coming
to me about a project I know nothing about? It
turned out they wanted me to be a front man
for an import/export business, shipping mobile
phone accessories to Latin America. They’d seen
me laughing and joking about the campus and
wanted me to front up the sales side. I thought
they were nuts but I took a hard look at my situation. There were not a lot of job opportunities in
front of me so I went with it.
Then the import/export business really started to take off. The biggest payday I had ever had
before this was getting US$167.00 a week. With
the business, the four of us were generating some
$60,000 to $70,000 a month in take-home pay.
INTERVIEW : LOUIS DAVID SPAGNUOLO
This changed the whole dynamic. I’d never seen
so much money and I turned into the proverbial
drunken sailor. Money just poured through my
fingers and I spent it as fast as it came in. Then
I had my first failure – a real, ground-opening-upbeneath-you type event. I was having dinner at
a restaurant in South Beach, Miami when I got
a call from my colleagues. “You need to come to
Venezuela. We have a bad situation here. There’s
been a coup d’etat,” they said.
That wasn’t a term I knew at the time. I heard
“coo-de-ta” and it made no sense. I said it was
a bad line and I’d call them back in the morning. It turned out that the military had taken
over the government. Hugo Chavez seized power
and overnight issued a proclamation that no one
could take money out of the country. We were all
wrapped up in our personal lives, going on speedboats and driving fast cars and living the Miami
Vice lifestyle, and then this came as a real bolt
from the blue. We contacted our banker in Venezuela who said he had $1.8 million in our company bank account there and told us we could
withdraw the money, no problem, at $10,000 a
month. We did the math and realised it would
take us like 27 years to get the money out.
The resolution turned out to be journeying
to Venezuela with the proverbial suitcase full of
cash as a bribe to the banker and we each ended
up with $400,000 in cash and no business. That
really shook me up mentally and emotionally.
We’d had a very successful business, and overnight it vanished through no fault of our own.
That’s when I realised that you can be perfect in
the implementation of your strategy but something out of left field can still derail you. Everything is temporary. Everything in life changes
and you need to have a plan B and probably a
plan C and D as well. Plus you need to be well diversified to ride the twists of fortune. For me that
was an incredible business lesson. The second lesson I drew from that failure was never again to
be stupid about money. I still spend, but I spend
proportionately, with an eye to the future. I’m
always thinking, What if..? And if the worst happened, what kind of recalibration could I make?
Q: How did you recover from the Venezuelan
disaster?
A: I got into real estate by renovating and
flipping houses. It was hard work but generated
a good amount of cash. Then I went across to Las
Vegas from Miami for a real estate convention.
An older guy came up to me and asked who was
doing my financing for me on the house sales. I
said I wasn’t particularly fussed about which finance outfit people used. He said that was a big
mistake. “If you do the financing for your buyers
you can make an additional $5,000 to $6,000
per transaction,” he told me.
Then I woke up to the fact that when you sell
a house, maybe 30 people look at it but only one
buys it. That leaves 29 others who are going to
buy somewhere and who will need financing. So
that gives me the opportunity both to find each
of them a different house and to make money on
the financing. I got my mortgage broker’s licence
and very soon the financing side began to surpass
my real estate business. I was making $25,000 to
$30,000 a month and enjoying my business.
Then I got a call from a friend who said I
should talk to a guy from the Royal Bank of Canada in Boca Raton, Florida. They made me see
that they had a much stronger brand than I had,
with appeal across the US, and their pitch was
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Summer 2015 |
International
9
INTERVIEW : LOUIS DAVID SPAGNUOLO
that they could take my business to a whole new
level. I joined them and was doing all right when
I got a call from a Californian company. The guy
wanted to talk about this new thing called the
Internet, which he said was going to be huge,
and which could generate sales leads. I was very
enthralled. I’ve always liked technology. We set
up a meeting with this guy. They said they would
generate 1,000 Internet leads a month for us for
$2 a lead.
Everyone in the room laughed at the idea,
saying no one would trust someone in California that they didn’t know with all their personal
details. I had a different point of view. For $2
a pop it was worth taking a chance, I argued.
We got the leads and gave them to our sales
people. It turned out 960 of those 1000 leads
were hopeless. People said it was a disaster.
Everyone was ready to blame me for giving the
time of day to this crazy scheme. So at the end
of the month we were doing our reconciliation
and I asked: “What happened to the other 40
leads?” “Oh, they were processed as loans and
we got 20 deals out of that,” I was told. “How
much does the bank make per closing?” About
$3,000 for each. So I pointed out that we’d
spent $2,000 and we’d made a profit on that of
$58,000 in a month. How was that a disaster?
That flipped the situation around and gave everyone a new perspective.
The Internet company we were dealing with
was Lending Tree, which now has a $640 million market cap, and we were their second customer. What they inadvertently taught me was
the power of the web and how to aggregate
clients. We reached the point at RBC where we
were spending $180,000 a month on Lending
Tree so it made sense for us to build our own
website. In fact we ended up going for a series of
horizontal, geographically specific sites. The idea
was plant, 300 seeds and some will blossom. We
got one or two leads a day from each website
and the conversion ratio went through the roof.
Our dependency on Lending Tree got cut in half
and I got the idea that enabled me to get in early
on the dot-com boom. What was clear was that
if half a million people in California were willing
to do business with us in Florida, there had to
be other industries that this could be applied to.
So I launched a series of Internet businesses and
became a serial entrepreneur.
10
International | Summer 2015
Q: When was the first time you flew in a
private jet?
A: The first time I ever flew charter was with
a business friend of mine back in 2005. I was
scared to death. I hadn’t been on too many
planes in my lifetime and when the jet was getting ready to take off I couldn’t believe how loud
the engines were. I was trying to be really cool
since the other guys had all flown many times.
The aircraft was a Lockheed JetStar 2, one of the
very few private jets with four engines. Once we
My affinity for the Rolex watch brand came from
a gentleman I met when I was 12 years old. This
man was known to have great wealth, but on all
occasions never dressed as if he had dime to his
name. I guess in today’s world you would call him
eccentric but back then he was just considered
weird. So one day I start chatting with the man
and he explained to me, that in life you can leave
your home in your pyjamas, but if you were wearing a Rolex, people would know that they had to
take you seriously!
got to cruise altitude things settled down and I
started to feel more comfortable. What that trip
in the Jetstar did for me though was to spoil me
for a lot of the subsequent charter trips I took
in modern jets, right up until the recent wave of
wide-body, high-ceiling jets. I could stand upright
in the JetStar cabin which is more than I was
able to on all those other, quieter business jets!
It was also one of the most luxurious aircraft of
the time, so for me it was my first experience of
seeing how rich folk travelled! The luxury of that
jet was just amazing.
Looking back, this gentleman was wearing
a Rolex Presidential, which at the time was the
gold standard of timepieces. Since that day I
became obsessed with Rolex, to the point where
after 18 years collecting I amassed a collection
of over 130 pieces.
Through this time, I learned that Rolex had
a brilliant marketing strategy, where each year
they would always raise the prices 6%-8%, while
never changing the style of the individual watches. This taught me that Rolex was more than just
a watch and in theory was an alternative investment, so for each accomplishment I achieved in
business, I would always memorialise it with a
new Rolex watch.
Once I collected virtually every Rolex, the
excitement began to wear off and for a lot of
years I was no longer interested in timepieces.
It wasn’t until 2008 that I re-embraced horology, when I was introduced to the Hublot brand.
Hublot was so unique and so different from any
other Swiss watch at the time, that it captured
Q: You have a fabulous watch collection.
What got you started? What is the fascination
with timepieces all about and what is your
favourite?
A: Swiss timepieces have always been very
symbolic for me. Growing up, no one in my family had ever owned a watch, never mind a Swiss
timepiece, so I never had any exposure to the purpose as to why one would acquire such an item.
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INTERVIEW : LOUIS DAVID SPAGNUOLO
my imagination. The brand continued to evolve
over the years and from their partnership with
Ferrari and getting to know the Hublot chairman,
Jean-Claude Biver, I grew to have a passion for
the brand, which culminated with my purchase
of the Hublot GMT Tourbillon, of which there are
only 28 in the world!
After my last liquidity event, I began to explore Audemars Piguet and Patek Phillipe and
then finally I acquired a few significant pieces
from Officine Panerai. Ultimately these are the
only four brands I have an interest in and tend to
purchase 3-4 of each per year and currently own
probably another 100 or so of these.
ing up in the middle of the night and walking to
the garage to go touch the rear fender to make
sure this was all actually real!
Once I experienced the first one, as usual my
obsessive personality kicked in and continued until I had acquired the entire model lineup. At this
point it became pretty well known in the Ferrari
world that I was crazy for the brand, so I had
the fortunate privilege of being invited by Ferrari North America to the Pebble Beach Concours
D’Elegance, where I got to meet many of the top
executives from Ferrari. In an ironic twist, while
at the Ferrari Suite I happened to sit down at a
table with a placard that said ‘reserved’, only to
ents as well as their executive team. While I was
there, I quickly noticed I was by far the youngest
person in attendance and was asked if I would
like to join the CEO, Torsten Muller-Otvos, as his
dinner guest that evening. Naturally I accepted
and after a few bottles of Opus One, we began
to discuss the brand and how we could introduce it to a new younger demographic. What
we came up with was basically a pseudo-VIP
programme that would cater to professional
athletes, entertainers and entrepreneurial high
net worth individuals, which just so happened
to be the character traits of most of the people
I associate with and do business with. Through
Growing up
watching the TV
dramas Magnum
PI and Miami
Vice introduced
me to a marque
that defined
style, beauty and
uniqueness
Q: How did you come to be a brand
ambassador for Rolls-Royce, and can you tell
us about your relationship with Ferrari?
A: Since I was a young boy, owning a Ferrari
was always a lifelong dream that I had. Growing up watching the TV dramas Magnum PI and
Miami Vice introduced me to a marque that defined style, beauty and uniqueness – and the fact
that it was Italian only added to my passion for
the brand. So after 37 years of working 25 hours
a day and eight days a week, I finally had my
dream come to fruition. To this day I can still remember every second of the experience of seeing
the delivery truck dropping off my brand new Ferrari 458 Italia and the emotions that came with
it. Throughout the whole experience I think I was
numb and really couldn’t believe any of it was
happening, to the point where I remember wak-
12
International | Summer 2015
later realise it was set aside for a gentleman by
the name of Lapo Elkann. Lapo was the grandson of Giani Agnelli, the famed Italian industrialist who owned half of Europe. Within seconds,
Lapo noticed my passion for Ferrari and as
the owner of the brand, he went on to help
me personalise many of my vehicles through
a programme he developed called Tailor Made.
Through Lapo and the many other executives
from Ferrari, I went on to meet Piero Ferrari (the
son of Enzo Ferrari) and now Fiat Chairman Sergio Machionne this past October in Beverly Hills
California.
A similar situation took place with regards
to Rolls-Royce. After purchasing my 3rd RollsRoyce vehicle, I was invited to the Rolls-Royce
Mansion at Pebble Beach and enjoyed a day of
lunch and champagne with other recognised cli-
this relationship, we have been able to put on
a half dozen world-class events and have sold
over two dozen new vehicles to first time RollsRoyce buyers.
Q: Which two business leaders in today’s
world do you admire most and why?
A: First, I would have to put forward JeanClaude Biver of Hublot watches. Far and away,
Jean-Claude is the Steve Jobs of the Swiss timepiece industry and has done more to inspire, innovate and raise the bar for the entire industry
than anyone else who has ever walked the planet.
In 2004, he basically inherited what was viewed
as a dead brand and in less than four years completely turned the company around to become a
pioneer in innovation, while exponentially increasing sales. Through meeting him over the years and
INTERVIEW : LOUIS DAVID SPAGNUOLO
I showed her the figures
and said, “Would you
rather fly private to Dubai
or buy a condo in South
Beach?”The decision
made itself
getting to know him, I learned that it’s critical to
constantly keep the customer both hungry and
frustrated, while providing an exclusive product or
service. He taught me to never give too much or
allow a customer’s demand to be quenched and
to always leave him wanting more. Similar to the
Ferrari philosophy of always building one less car
than demand, I learned that if everyone can have
something, then no one will want it. When dealing
with the ultra high net worth segment, the perception of scarcity is always crucial in driving your
product forward.
Second I would have to say Torsten MullerOtvos for his achievements with Rolls-Royce. As
the youngest CEO to ever head up the company, in five short years Torsten has been able
to reposition Rolls-Royce to have record years
for sales each and every year under his tenure,
which is truly phenomenal for a brand of its
calibre. From Torsten, I learned how important
it was to have a keen eye for what your customers wanted and to be unafraid to re-calibrate
both your philosophy and the positioning of
your product or service in order to surpass your
client’s expectations. Through studying him, I
watched how he killed off an all-electric version of the Phantom, which the company was
about to launch but wasn’t well received by clients, and then conversely how he stretched the
boundaries of the company and announced
for the first time in its 101-Year History; that
it would embark on building a SUV, of which
the world has never seen. These decisions took
tremendous character and fortitude and even
went against the grain of the company’s history, but it’s my belief that the results will be
truly profound. These lessons have taught me
that it’s critical to evolve and transcend both
personally and professionally if you hope to
achieve your greatest successes.
14
International | Summer 2015
Q: You are looking to break new ground in
the charter market by bringing buyers and
sellers together via a web-based platform.
What got you started down this road?
A: Through my background with the Internet,
I learned that it was essential to position any
business or company with as many competitive
advantages as possible and one obvious source of
advantage begins with having the right domain
name. Acquiring category-defining domain names
was no different than purchasing prime real estate
on Park Avenue in Manhattan or Campden Hill
Square in London, so when I got the chance, in the
early years of the Internet, to purchase PrivateJet.
com, I simply could not pass it up.
Knowing that long range private jets sell for
as much as $75 million or more, quickly made
me realise that this was an asset that would
eventually have extreme value once the Internet
became mainstream. Through the years of owning this asset I have both sold and reacquired it
multiple times, each time making a substantial
profit. Through these experiences, I got to learn
all about the private jet charter business as well
as the inefficiencies that plagued the industry.
From this, I decided to help create an on-demand
charter smart phone application as well as a
transparent platform, where clients could search
and book the aircraft of their choosing for flights
all over the world.
Right now we are about to launch Phase II of
our industry disruptive application, so I can’t get
into any of the specific details but I can promise
you that once this hits the market, a follow-up
interview will most likely be needed!
Q: How much private flying do you do these
days?
A: Unlike many of my peers, who only fly
private, I will still look to use scheduled airlines
between major cities if the flight time is over
three hours. Under three hours I fly via private jet.
I look on this as a matter of being fiscally responsible. You can fly first class for $4,000 whereas it
may cost you $60,000 to do a four-hour charter
flight. My fiancée and I were due to fly to Dubai
for holiday, and while she enjoys our charter
flights and wanted to fly private, I showed her
the figures and said, “Would you rather fly private to Dubai or buy a condo in South Beach?”
The decision made itself. For me, $400,000 is
still a lot of money.
Q: Which business jet do you like the best?
A: I am a passionate enthusiast of RollsRoyce and for me, Gulfstream is the Rolls-Royce
of private aviation. Their attention to detail is
fantastic. Bombardier and Dassault have great
products but Gulfstream really stands out,
for me. A client of mine took delivery here in
Florida of the first Gulfstream 650 and I was
hugely impressed. The cabin is so quiet and well
appointed. It was above any flight experience I
had taken on a private jet to that point. For me
comfort and headroom is much more important
than raw speed. A few years back a friend of
mine said I should try the Citation X for short
trips because of the speed and the shorter flight
time. I thought it would be like a Ferrari, but
my experience was that for the small increase in
speed you lost so much in terms of cabin space.
The whole experience of arriving 10 minutes
earlier was not worth it over the Gulfstream’s
comfort, in my view.
Q: How do you feel about owning your own
private jet?
A: The irony is that I do own a Gulfstream IV but I never fly on it. I bought it
in rather battered condition four years ago
INTERVIEW : LOUIS DAVID SPAGNUOLO
from a celebrity owner. It had been for sale
for a long time and needed a total makeover,
including the external paint job, which was in
poor shape. I decided to purchase it and do
something really unique with it, by analogy
with the houses I used to buy and renovate.
But instead of doing the traditional business
jet interior I wanted to do a penthouse condotype interior, all gleaming whites and luxury
carpeting and interior work. My idea was to
attract a whole new range of people to charter
it, on the basis that it would be something
completely different.
It took us about a year to complete the
work and to have an ultra-modern, all-white
interior. As soon as it was done I put it out to
charter and drew a big, fat blank. It turns out
that the musicians, rock stars and entertainers I had been expecting to show up as clients
found it too pristine for them. They were wor-
ried about messing it up. The corporates, who
were my other favourite demographic, didn’t
want it either as it was too over the top for
them in the new age of austerity. So I’d kind
of got myself a white elephant on my hands,
or that’s what it looked like. Sometimes in
business you have to retreat and regroup
when something doesn’t work. You recalibrate
and re-engage on a different basis and that
can turn failure to success. What happened
was, I was contacted by a gentleman based
in Singapore. White is a favourite colour in
much of Asia and he loved the photographs
of the jet. It was going to cost me $200,000
dollars to send the jet to Singapore so he
could see it, but I decided to take a chance. In
an ironic twist, it worked out extremely well.
He now has it on an exclusive six-month rolling charter basis and flies around 80 hours a
month. So without a doubt, that re-calibration
really saved me! Q
Summer 2015 |
International
15
GULFS TREAM: L ARRY FLYNN
Gulfstream: a lesson in
innovation and
brand awareness
A conversation with Gulfstream President
Larry Flynn. By Anthony Harrington
W
ith the Gulfstream G650 selling faster than
any new jet in Gulfstream’s history – and with
two new jets, the G500 and G600, on the way
(the G500 makes its first flight this year, with
– first deliveries expected some time in 2018)
Gulfstream President Larry Flynn has reason
to feel that his company is secure in its position as the front runner
among airframe OEMs. Not that Gulfstream’s having it all its own way.
GAMA’s results for aircraft sales by OEM for the whole of 2014
show Bombardier just a smidge behind Gulfstream in total
sales, with US$7.564 billion worth of sales as against Gulfstream’s $7.781 billion. And Bombardier also has two new
ultra long-range jets coming along, in the shape of the
Global 7000 and Global 8000, both of which have the
ability to be a real game changer for the Canadian OEM.
But right now, it seems, the G650 is the jet setting the
standard for others to follow.
Flynn himself is on an upward path inside Gulfstream’s parent company, General Dynamics. In February General Dynamics announced that in June Flynn will
become the new Executive VP of General Dynamics’ Aerospace Group, in place of the retiring Joseph Lombardo.
This position will see Flynn heading up both Gulfstream
and Jet Aviation. He has been president of Gulfstream
since August 2011 and thus can claim some share of
the success that Gulfstream has enjoyed since then.
Q: You have had a long career in Gulfstream,
having first become a VP in the corporation in
1995. What drew you to business aviation?
A: I was born into the aerospace game. My Dad
was an airline pilot for 38 years, so my two brothers
16
International | Summer 2015
GULFS TREAM: L ARRY FLYNN
and I learned to fly at a very young age and
developed a lifelong interest in the business. I
had a licence early on and put in several hundred hours’ flying time, but I made the decision
to go the management route. When I went to
college I took a couple of degrees in business
management, liked it and thought that would
be the way to go.
I started my career in 1982 with CombsGates in Denver. They were an FBO chain and
became part of Signature in the late 1990s.
Combs-Gates was also memorable for having
bought Lear Jet Industries in 1969. I was responsible for numerous Signature FBOs in the
Northeast, which gave me a very good feel for
what was entailed in delivering service excellence consistently across a number of locations.
Combs-Gates also had a thriving MRO business,
which gave me a hands-on feel for running
complex aircraft support networks. I’ve always
enjoyed MRO. I’ve done it for 20 years and had
responsibility at Gulfstream for MRO for the first
13 years of my career with Gulfstream Product
Support. After that I had three and a half years
as Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing
followed by three years as President.
Q: What do you think has enabled
Gulfstream to set the pace in business
aviation so consistently?
A: We are very brand conscious and so are
our customers, so maintaining our brand as
the market leader is very big for us. The one
712$+
thing I think of every day is how to expand
the brand and how to do this internationally,
across developed and developing markets. Of
course, it helps that our market penetration
and market share across multiple geographies
are really strong. A good example of this is
that at ABACE, it was reported that we had the
number one brand and market share in China,
which shows that we have had real success in
selling aircraft in China.
Q: Have Gulfstream’s sales been impacted
by the anti-corruption drive in China?
A: I would say that things have been somewhat chilled by the anti-corruption campaign,
but we have a real good backlog of orders and
people are not cancelling, so that is going well.
It is hard to characterise the state of play in
China. It has been a really hot market, and
now it remains a good market. We sell to end
users that have strong businesses and a seri-
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International
17
GULFS TREAM: L ARRY FLYNN
ous business requirement for these airplanes.
They continue to run very viable multinational
companies in China and that part of the equation has not changed.
Q: How much of a game changer do you
think the G500 and the G600 are going to
be for Gulfstream?
A: We are very excited about these two
clean sheet aircraft. It is a tremendous investment to bring a clean sheet aircraft to market,
but we have a long history of doing just that.
And of course we are just coming off a very
successful clean sheet aircraft in the G650.
This has already proved itself to be the fastestselling and most popular business jet in the
history of business aviation. We are learning
from that and further developing the technology in the G500 and G600.
Q: You are moving from ‘fly-by-wire’ to
‘intelligence-by-wire’ for these new aircraft.
How much of an advance is that?
A: Intelligence-by-wire goes to a whole new
level with our Symmetry cockpits in the G500
and G600. A particular feature is the active
sidestick controllers. These are so simple and
intuitive to use that even I got the hang of
them in a few minutes in the simulator. One of
the key features is that if the pilot makes an
input using the controller, the co-pilot’s stick
18
International | Summer 2015
moves exactly the same. So you get dramatic
improvements in coordination and a significant
improvement in safety. There are also 10 touchscreen panels forming the displays – the most
extensive use of touch screens in any business
aircraft. The reaction from pilots has been really
extraordinary. We had a couple of prospective
customers who are also pilots, and when we introduced this technology last year, they came
and sat in the cockpit and tried it out and immediately ordered the aircraft. They were that
impressed! They were astounded at how easy
it was to understand and at the way we have
integrated so much high tech into a single flight
deck that is very intuitive for pilots.
What is really important about every new,
clean sheet aircraft that we undertake is the
extensive customer feedback that we incorporate into the design. We work very hard with
customers, with our customer advisory board,
to get the details right – and we have a very
disciplined process to transform that feedback
into solid design and engineering. Q
We are very brand
conscious and so are
our customers, so
maintaining our brand
as the market leader is
very big for us
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AMAC Aerospace Switzerland AG
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International 19
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INTERIORS: COMLUX
Gearing up
for the
C
International | Summer 2015
VP, Engineering, Comlux
big jets
ompletions specialist Comlux
is positioning itself to win a
chunk of the lucrative widebody interiors business. As
Daron Dryer, VP, Engineering, at Comlux explains, the
group’s US completions centre, Comlux America, began work in mid-April this year on a major expansion of one of its hangars, to enable
it to take wide-body jets. The expansion will
see the existing hangar extended by 40 feet.
“This is a new, modern hangar built from the
ground up exclusively for VVIP completions
and it came into service in 2012. The extension
simply enables us to accommodate wide-body
aircraft,” he says.
20
EVA talks to Daron Dryer,
“We have already secured an order to complete our very first wide-body Airbus ACJ330,
which will be delivered to us in Q4 2015, by
which time we will have the hangar extension
completed and ready for business,” Dryer adds.
Once completed the total size of the hangar
will increase from 128,000 square feet to
157,000 square feet. It will then be able to
house one wide-body and up to four narrowbody jets simultaneously.
When the deal was announced, Richard
Gaona, Chairman and CEO of Comlux The Aviation Group, said that transforming the hangar
into one suited for wide-body completions reiterates how serious Comlux is about its future.
“It maintains the Comlux reputation as one of
INTERIORS: COMLUX
the best completion and service centres in the
world,” he noted.
Dryer points out that while Comlux has traditionally focused on Boeing and Airbus business jets for the most part, on the MRO side it
provides services to a number of Bombardier
business aircraft owners (mainly Globals and
Challengers), some of which could also become customers of its completion arm. “Our
focus for completions is on the larger aircraft,
but we are interested in doing refurbishments
and cabin upgrades for the smaller business
jets as well. We have experience across a wide
range of aircraft types,” Dryer notes.
“Our main aim is to ensure that the customer’s experience in the air exceeds his or
her lifestyle expectations on the ground. We
are always interested in breaking new ground
and in seeing how far we can push innovation
along with producing a stunning design and
achieving the highest levels of comfort,” he
comments. The user interface, which includes
the cabin management and in-flight entertainment systems as well as productivity tools such
as broadband and video conferencing, is very
Our main aim is
to ensure that
the customer’s
experience in the air
exceeds his or her
lifestyle expectations
on the ground
Daron Dryer
high on the list of priorities when it comes to
what customers specify for their interior work.
This extends to giving a great deal of
thought to design details such as ‘soft-close’
and ‘soft-open’ where drawers or lids, for example, close slowly and noiselessly and where
all the monuments and furniture have a more
sculpted appearance. “What you are always
trying for is to ensure that the in-flight experience is even better than anything the customer would experience on the ground,” he
points out.
Despite the general slowdown in aircraft
sales through the first quarter of 2015, Dryer
says that Comlux has been exceptionally busy,
having delivered two completed aircraft, an
Airbus A321 and a BBJ, both on time and
on budget – and also, under the weight limit
specified in the contract. With completions the
danger always is that while the interior might
look like a dream, the aircraft turns out to be
too heavy to do the missions the owner had in
mind when they purchased their aircraft.
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21
INTERIORS: COMLUX
“From day one at Comlux we have always
looked to use our ability to innovate and to
come up with a great combination of design
and technical skills to fulfil the client’s requirements. Our first-ever completions job was for
a client who wanted an extra large ceiling effect on an Airbus ACJ320. We completely redesigned the Boeing air conditioning system
so that the client could get the ceiling height
and look he required. Our goal is for outside
designers to want to come to Comlux because
they know that we will help them achieve their
vision,” Dryer comments.
“If we are working with the client’s designer
and what they want to do is not technically
feasible, we will listen and do the trade studies and show them either what the practical
constraints are that require a rethink, or provide them with the costings to show them
what the price would be to achieve what they
want. We make it a point at Comlux to always
22
International | Summer 2015
show what it would take to achieve what the
designer and the client want. At Comlux we
strive to never say no, and to make ideas that
seem impossible, possible by being innovative
and open minded”.
In April Comlux’s completion and service
centre announced the successful installation
and certification of the first FANS (Future Air
Navigation System) progamme on a Bombardier
Challenger 601 aircraft, having received the
STC for installing FANS-capable equipment on
all Challenger 600 series jets, just a month earlier. The centre’s MRO station provides services
to a number of 600 series aircraft and Comlux
can now offer customers a solution that will enable them to operate wherever FANS and Link
2000+ capabilities are required. FANS work has
already been accomplished on a second 601
at Comlux as well. The FANS programme sees
Comlux partnering with Universal Avionics and
L-3 Aviation Recorders.
In December Comlux ordered two BBJ MAX
8s from Boeing Business Jets. These were the
first BBJs Comlux had ordered and the deal
also represents the first BBJ MAX order in Europe. Both jets are to be outfitted at Comlux’s
completions centre and will be added to the
charter fleet upon completion.
Commenting on the order, which was
placed in December 2014, Gaona said: “The
two BBJ MAX 8s are a great addition to the
Comlux fleet because they give our customers
the flexibility to fly farther and also more comfortably thanks to the lower cabin altitude.
The long-range capability of the MAX 8 is critical to all of our customers, but especially our
Middle East customers who often use Comlux
aircraft for long-haul flights.” Q
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BO T U
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0
INTERIORS: F OKKER SERVICES
Points of
view
F
okker Services’ Skyview panoramic
window, which takes the place of
three ordinary window bays, has
to be one of the most exciting
breakthroughs in the passenger
experience of business jets since
the introduction of in-flight broadband. From
the initial, preliminary studies the project has
taken a little over a year and a half to come to
fruition, which is pretty quick for such a breakthrough. After all, every engineer working on
an airframe has taken it for granted since the
first jets that windows had to be, well, on the
small side, to prevent them from compromising the airframe. As Eric Cuppen, Director, Aircraft Conversions and Completions at Fokker
Services explains, the company had to really
think outside the box to bring about such a
radical change.
“Initially we had all kinds of ideas about
where to put the window and how large we
could make it. Clearly there are structural zones
that you need to be sensitive to regarding the
airframe. But we do a lot of work on Boeing and
Airbus models generally, so we had a good bit
of data to work with to tell us how to cut into
the structure and how to strengthen it to keep
structural integrity,” he comments.
Fokker Services had the preliminary design
review (PDR) on the project in March – which,
Cuppen points out, was a great milestone in
24
International | Summer 2015
the programme as it passed this concept definition phase. “The Critical Design Review (CDR
or better known as ‘the point of no return’) is
planned in May after which the design of the
Skyview panoramic window is frozen and only
a few details remain. Our goal is to have the
first window installed by the end of this year in
a BBJ for our launch customer,” he notes.
Moving on from the launch, the next target of opportunity, at some point in the near
future, could be 777s and 747s, plus Cuppen
points out that Fokker Services is in the process of discussing the feasibility of installing
the Skyview panoramic window in models
from other airframe OEMS. “There is a good
deal of interest beyond Boeing in the Skyview
panoramic concept, which is very gratifying,”
he comments.
“We have not gone beyond the three bay
approach. Going from two to three was a relatively straightforward decision since moving
from one window to a two window-wide approach was not really that significant an enhancement. With the panoramic window being
three bays wide, the effect is really striking. If
you compare it to the size of a private desk,
for example, it works extremely well and gives
designers a fantastic additional component to
work into their interior design,” he comments.
A completely different approach to providing passengers with panoramic views would
be to explore using futuristic flexible LCD
screens to replace windows. However, Cuppen argues that passengers will probably always prefer a live view out of the window to
a screen based display, no matter how high
res the latter might be. “Of course, complementing a panoramic window by adding a
combination of screens driven by external
cameras might work very well indeed. I am
sure that camera systems and screens, in
combination with the aircraft’s in-flight
entertainment systems, will come much
more into prominence in the near future,”
he comments.
Today, judging by the exhibitions from
completions houses at the various trade
shows, a good deal of focus is on highdefinition TV screens. “Weight is, of course,
a factor. Any additional hi-tech equipment
adds weight, so if we get flexible screens
that shed a good deal of weight, that will
be very important,” he adds.
For Fokker Services, VIP completions and
business jet refurbishment work comprise
around an eighth of its business, but they
are a key part of the overall mix. “We won
an important contract for an ACJ completion in 2013 and for a green BBJ. The ACJ
was delivered on time and within budget on
3 April this year and the BBJ is on the way,
with the aircraft scheduled to leave the
INTERIORS: F OKKER SERVICES
Initially we had all kinds
of ideas about where to
put the window and how
large we could make
it. Clearly there are
structural zones that you
need to be sensitive to
regarding the airframe
Eric Cuppen, Director,
Aircraft Conversions and
Completions, Fokker Services
Boeing factory this October. We should have
the completion ready for delivery to the client
by August 2016,” Cuppen says.
In his view, the green aircraft completions
market continues to be impeded by the slow
nature of the recovery from the global crash
of 2008. However, as he notes, there are approximately 230 ageing and elderly ACJs and
BBJs in service, the oldest being more than
15 years old. “It follows that refurbishments,
systems upgrades and pre-sale inspections are
a growing market with these aircraft and we
are very interested in securing a good share of
that. Green completions are our first aim, but
this additional work is very welcome,” he comments. Owners and those buying the aircraft
as pre-owned are very keen on getting the IFE
systems upgraded to the latest releases and
having their upholstery, carpet, lining and
seats refurbished. So there is a strong aftermarket to come. “We are in constant contact
with VIP operators who want to enlarge their
fleets, making sure that they know our capabilities and what we can do for them. We have
a very active sales process and it generates results,” Cuppen says. Q
Summer 2015 |
International
25
INTERIORS: FLYING COLOURS
Flying Colours
spreads its wings
We have a number of
projects in progress and
others that are in the
process of being finalised
so it is very encouraging
Sean Gillespie
F
lying Colours Corporation, the
Canada-headquartered completions and maintenance group,
opened its third completions centre
in early 2015 at Singapore’s Seletar Aerospace Park. The new site,
a partnership with Bombardier, has already
brought its first project, the woodwork refinishing on a Challenger 605, to a successful conclusion. Paul Dunford, previously with Bombardier in Montreal, has been appointed General
Manager of Flying Colours Corp Asia PTE Ltd.
At ABACE this year, announcing Dunford’s
appointment Eric Gillespie, VP at Flying Colours,
pointed out that the new facility is already working on refurbishing woodwork and cabinetry on
two Globals. “This is a very important geographical area for our company. There are limited
facilities in the region capable of refurbishing
Challenger, Global or Learjet aircraft to the required standard so this is a great opportunity,”
he noted. “Operational costs to fly aircraft back
to North America or Europe are high, and downtime becomes lengthy, so by having a local base
for completions and refurbishment, we are filling
a strong market demand and anticipate that we
will continue to grow in the region as a result.”
Flying Colours started off back in
Paul Dunford, General Manager,
Flying Colours Corp Asia PTE Ltd
26
International | Summer 2015
1989 as a small painting facility in Peterborough, Ontario. The company gradually added
additional services and capabilities over the
years, branching out into specialist green aircraft completions and adding MRO capabilities
as well. In 2009 the company acquired JetCorp
Technical Services, based in St Louis, which rebranded as Flying Colours in 2013.
Talking to EVA, Sean Gillespie, Executive
VP at Flying Colours, said that business across
North America has seen an encouraging pick-up
in activity through the first quarter of 2015. “We
have a number of projects in progress and others
that are in the process of being finalised so it
is very encouraging. A lot of owners and operators have been holding off on refurbishing older
jets through the downturn and the slow recovery.
Many of these are now sufficiently confident in
the recovery to want to bring these older models
back to an “as-new” state,” he comments.
Business is not yet back to the levels seen before the crash, but the signs are that it is getting
there, despite a marked slowdown in completions
work from China and Russia. “We have some very
stable clients in China that have kept things ticking over and South East Asia overall has been
pretty active. North America is now looking a lot
stronger, but we still have some ground to make
up to get back to pre-2007 levels,” he considers.
For some while now some of the major OEMs,
including Gulfstream and Embraer, have been
doing completions of new models in-house
(see the interview with Larry
INTERIORS: FLYING COLOURS
Flynn, President of Gulfstream Aerospace Corp,
in this issue). So how does the launch of an exciting new jet like the Gulfstream G650 impact
completions houses like Flying Colours? The answer comes in two parts, Gillespie reckons. There
is always the after-market. While that won’t kick
in for several years, eventually today’s brand new
G650s will be looking tired and in need of a refresh, and not all of that work will go back to
Gulfstream. Much more immediately, however,
owners of older jets see the latest models, be
it the G650 or, in the mid-size, Embraer Legacy
500, and they say: “Make my old jet look like that
new one!” Gillespie notes.
That then leads more or less directly to a discussion about budgets and pricing. Even without
a major avionics upgrade, the cabin refurbishment will generally come in somewhere between
US$2 million and $4 million. “What we are seeing is that on newer aircraft, say those that are
four to five years old, that are coming in for a
refit, the avionics will be near state of the art.
However, there are usually compliance issues
coming up, such as for FANS (the Future Air Navigation System). These may not be things that the
owner has to do immediately, or even for a few
years, but it is always worth considering getting
them done during the refurbishment, thus avoiding having the aircraft needing to come back at
a later date,” he points out.
Gillespie explains that unlike some completions houses, which contract out specialist
work such as wet galleys, cabinetry and engineering, Flying Colours makes a point of having all these skills in-house. “We really like to
have control over quality and cost issues. Engineering was kind of the last component that
we brought in-house and for a long while now
we have done everything ourselves. Much of
the completions business is about repeat work
and the relationships that form between our
people and some of the people on the operator’s side or the client’s side are a key part of
that. So if you said you had now decided to
outsource your upholstery work or your galleys,
that would introduce some doubt into things,”
he says.
The Singapore expansion will keep Flying
Colours busy for a while but Gillespie points out
that the company is always on the lookout for
opportunities for growth. “I can see us having
a base in China at some point in the future, but
that is years away. We looked at mainland China pretty extensively, then this opportunity with
Bombardier came up and that was a real nobrainer for us. Singapore is a key hub and is very
convenient for China, Australia and even India,
plus English is widely spoken and it is a very
business-focused and business-friendly country,
so it is ideal,” he concludes. Q
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Summer 2015 |
International
27
INTERIORS: AERIA LUXURY INTERIORS
AERIA Luxury Interiors
– orders keep coming
by Anthony Harrington
28
International | Summer 2015
A
ERIA Luxury Interiors, based
in San Antonio, Texas, set out
its stall as a new VIP completions centre for Airbus and
Boeing executive jets at its
official launch at the Singapore Air Show in February 2012. It opened its
brand new completions centre at San Antonio
and almost immediately started work on its first
contract. This was for a comprehensive cabin refurbishment of a Boeing 767-200. Now Aeria is
already working on and preparing for two completions contracts, and there are more deals in
the pipeline. Ron Soret, Aeria’s Vice-President/
General Manager, points out that part at least
of the reason why, as a new kid on the block in
the completions game, Aeria has been able to
instil confidence in prospective clients, is that it
has a well-established parent, in ST Aerospace,
which has a long history in providing commercial
airline MRO services. ST Aerospace is the aviation
arm of ST Engineering, one of the largest companies on the Singapore Stock Exchange. That said,
Soret’s team still had to win the contract by convincing the client of the depth and versatility of
their own design and technical skills.
The two new deals will see Aeria safely
through what many in the completions sector
now regard as a significant slowdown in new
orders. In fact Soret says that despite the slowdown, which is reflected in poor first quarter
2015 GDP growth figures for the US economy,
Aeria has seen a pick-up in new requests for completion quotations, which is very pleasing. Soret’s
team is currently working on its first green BBJ
completion, a VIP 737, which it won in February
2014. The aircraft was delivered to Aeria in December 2014 and will be ready for delivery to the
client in the fourth quarter of 2015.
Cabin interior highlights include an exclusive
entry-way into the private suite, a comfortable
master suite and a luxurious bathroom. A stateof-the-art cabin management system has been installed to allow complete control over the custom
RGB mood lights and high-definition large-format
TV screens, via an integrated iPad. A humidification system and sound dampening package are
part of the design, ensuring that passenger comfort will be enhanced throughout the flight.
In an innovative move, AERIA’s design team
will be using its recently acquired 3D printer to
create cabin features. Among these is a custom
ceiling which will enhance the aircraft’s interior
design and provide a heightened spatial impression. In addition to the decorative features,
INTERIORS: AERIA LUXURY INTERIORS
AERIA will deploy the 3D printing capabilities in
the development of mock-ups, concept modelling
proofs as well as production parts. By using a
technologically advanced 3D printer, operational
efficiency will be increased while production time
and overall costs are more effectively managed.
In August 2014 Aeria won a second Boeing
nose-to-tail wide-body refurbishment completions
contract. This aircraft is due to be delivered to
the client in the first quarter of 2017. On top of
this, Aeria has won contracts to carry out extra
heavy maintenance and avionics upgrades, plus
various refurbishments, to two Boeing 757s.
The interior for the first of the two green
completions will include a dedicated forward
crew lounge, an efficiently equipped galley, dining suite, conference room, large resting lounge
and master suite. A state-of-the-art digital entertainment system with multiple high-definition
screens will be installed for an “indulgent” theatre experience on board, along with Inmarsat
and Iridium satellite communications systems
and high-speed Wi-Fi system.
Soret points out that Areia has gone in for an
extensive expansion of its facilities over the last
two years. It is adding a further 14,000 square
feet to its 100,000 square foot hangar and shop
areas, which will create space for a cabinetry
and upholstery shop and a standalone sales and
interior design building. The company recently
passed the 140 employee mark and Soret says
that the additional hangar space will enable it to
expand its in-house craft skills.
Aeria has also set its sights on winning MRO
and refurbishment work from Middle East clients.
Soret points out that the company was pleased
with its attendance at December’s MEBA Exhibition and is actively looking to encourage Middle
Eastern clients to consider the company’s Texas
facility when they are thinking about refreshing
and refurbishing their existing narrow-body or
wide-body aircraft. Q
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Summer 2015 |
International
29
PROFILE: JOHN S HENDRICK S
John S
Hendricks
By Margie Goldsmith
F
rom a very young age, John S Hendricks, founder
and former Chairman of Discovery Communications, was curious about life and especially space,
dinosaurs and automobiles. Born in Matewan,
West Virginia in 1952, by the time he was just five
years old he knew the names and model year of
every car on the highway. At six, his family moved to Huntsville, Alabama, home to America’s nascent space programme,
and a few years later, young Hendricks built a telescope. He
loved watching Walter Cronkite’s You Were There and Wild
Kingdom, but wished there were more informative and engaging TV shows – he would soon remedy that.
In 1974, Hendricks graduated magna cum laude with a BA
in history from the University of Alabama and eight years later
founded Discovery Communications. It was one of cable TV’s
pioneering programming companies, designed to provide highquality documentary programming exploring the world. Since
1982, the company has expanded to global operations, now in
over 220 countries with nearly 3 billion subscribers. Dozens of
networks of distinctive programming represent 53 entertainment brands across the globe, including Discovery, The Learning Channel, and Animal Planet.
Hendricks’s father had regaled his son with stories about
the American Southwest, especially the beautiful red rock
canyon country in Utah and west of Grand Junction, Colorado. In the late ‘90s, Hendricks and his wife purchased 8,000
30
International | Summer 2015
pristine acres and eventually built Gateway Canyons Resort,
originally as an executive retreat, but now a luxurious resort.
On the property he has created the Gateway Auto Museum to
house another of his passions: his classic car collection (55
pristine autos dating from 1906 through 2006). Last year,
Hendricks created the Curiosity Project, including Curiosity
Retreats at Gateway Canyons, a lifelong learning programme
featuring luminary experts in a 5-star setting. With his daughter Elizabeth, Hendricks has just launched their newest independent venture, CuriosityStream, the world’s first ad-free
subscription-video-on-demand service for consumers to watch
premium factual programmes anytime, anywhere.
Hendricks has received a Primetime Emmy Award and the
Academy of Television Arts & Sciences highest honour, the
Governors Award. He was the first corporate leader to receive
the National Education Association’s Friend of Education
award (for expanding educational opportunity for America’s
schoolchildren), was on the Board of Directors of the United
States Olympic Committee and currently serves on Carnegie
Corporation of New York, Institute for Advanced Study and
the National Forest Foundation. In 2013, HarperCollins published his business memoir, A Curious Discovery: An Entrepreneur’s Story.
In May 2014, after 32 years at the helm of one of TV’s top
brands, Hendricks retired from Discovery Communications. We
caught up with him at his home in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
PROFILE: JOHN S HENDRICK S
They encouraged me to
dream big, to do things
in an excellent way, and
they displayed a love of
learning and that was an
inspiration to me
Summer 2015 |
International
31
PROFILE: JOHN S HENDRICK S
Q: Besides Florida, where do you have other
homes?
A: At Gateway Canyons and Deer Valley,
Utah. I own part of a yacht so we take yachting trips to the Bahamas. I visit CuriosityStream’s
Maryland office three days a month. My wife and
I plan to travel the planet and explore. I love nature and wildlife, but in South Africa, there’s just
a wonderful game reserve; the Singita Boulders
and Singita Ebony lodge in South Africa are our
favourite destinations.
Q: What did you want to do as a child?
A: I always had this passion of trying to understand the universe and the moon. As a child, I
read a little book about the moon and was fascinated about the potential of going to the moon
and trying to understand the planets. I thought
I’d grow up and work in the space industry or as
an astronomer.
Q: What advice did your parents give you?
A: They encouraged me to dream big, to do
things in an excellent way, and they displayed
a love of learning and that was an inspiration
to me.
Q: Who was your mentor?
A: My dad, because he read and knew so
much. To this day he is one of the most educated
32
International | Summer 2015
persons I’ve ever known. He didn’t go to college
but he was educated because he read. My love of
travel and cars and business all comes from him.
Q: Tell me about the first time you were a
boss and what that was like.
A: As a college senior, I’d published a little
piece that got the attention of the president of
the University. He then offered me a job to go
to Washington DC and work on federal contracts
for the University, but I always wanted to be in
business for myself, so I started a small consulting business with about five or six employees.
created Discovery Communications. How did
that happen?
A: It was my good fortune to meet Herbert
Allen of Allen and Company, who capitalised the
investment banking company that has the big Sun
Valley media conference every year, and which I’ve
gone to for about 30 years now. He believed in the
concept and was responsible for that first step, a
$5 million fundraising round. That led to a second
round of $20 million, and then we found four very
supportive cable operators who became my longterm partners in Discovery.
Q: How did you happen to found the AAUC,
a private consulting organisation involved
in television distribution and marketing
educational programmes and services?
A: One of my clients associated with American University had produced a television series
and wanted to get distribution. There really
wasn’t a place for this documentary except for
PBS. Cable had started to launch and very simple
ideas [for channels delivering a single category
of content] were coming on air. HBO was first in
1975 and then in 1979, ESPN. Then, in 1980, Ted
Turner did a news channel.
Q: In 1982, you invested US$20,000 of your
own money as part of the initial financing
provided by an investment bank and a NY
insurance company, and called it the Cable
Educational Network, Inc. Why?
A: At the time, there was no cable educational network -- no one had thought to do documentary entertainment and I became obsessed.
Everything I researched convinced me that this
would work. I knew a little bit about satellites,
and became an expert. I was just fortunate to
be the first to organise a [documentary] channel
and raise the funds.
Q: In 1985 you raised $25 million and
Q: Didn’t satellite time cost a fortune back then?
A: It did. When I launched Discovery, the
lease payment on my satellite and uplink bill per
month was $336,000. I knew I needed a substantial sum of money because you had these big
fixed expenses of not only your staff but also the
infrastructure cost; and then you had to buy the
content. I forged alliances with the BBC and TV
Ontario in markets where they valued documentary entertainment more: the UK, Canada and
Australia. I was able to import all of that content
that no one had ever seen in this country. For two
or three years, we were a very British-sounding
network, though later, we re-narrated it with an
American voice. Three years later, we started doing our own original productions.
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PROFILE: JOHN S HENDRICK S
Q: What else do you look for?
A: For me, it starts with the appearance of
the car; it has to evoke some sense of the aesthetic. The color and the styling have to really appeal
to me. We wanted to tell the story of 100 years of
the American car at our Automotive Museum. We
started out with a 1906 Cadillac and when we
opened the museum in 2006, we ended with a
Ford Mustang, so we had that full hundred years.
Q: What is the company worth today?
A: The stock varies. Today, it’s at $17 billion.
Q: When did you become interested in
automobiles?
A: I was five. My sister was 13 years older, and
one day her boyfriend picked her up in a brand new
1958 Corvette, and the juxtaposition of a Corvette
in the West Virginia hills was just stunning, like
something that had arrived from outer space. I’ve
often told people it was my first art experience because of the curves and the lines. I wanted to know
everything about how this car came to be.
Q: What was your first car?
A: A Camaro, which I got for $2,700 when I
was 16. My dad helped with the down payment
and I worked in a men’s clothing store after
school to pay for it.
Q: How did your automobile collection begin?
A: That 1958 Corvette made such an impression on me. Then I started reading articles
about cars of the 30s and fell in love with the
34
International | Summer 2015
Packards and the Duesenbergs, especially the
ones with the art deco design, so representative
of the 1937 Terraplane. There are certain classic cars like the ‘57 Chevrolet. I brought my first
two classic cars together: the ‘57 Chevrolet and
an Oldsmobile 442. Then I started learning more
about which cars have more collectability, which
are more valued, lower serial numbers.
Q: What is it that sings to you when you go
to look for cars at an auction?
A: I respond to colour and motion. I think of
cars as sculptural art. It’s the motion of colour in
a style that really speaks to me.
Q: What are your favourite cars in your collection?
A: The top of my list is the F-88 Concept Car
which I’ll keep forever. I really like the ’37 Hudson
Terraplane, a car introduced and endorsed by Amelia Earhart. And the 1930 model Duesenberg is up
PROFILE: JOHN S HENDRICK S
there. For modern cars, I love Bentleys, I think they’re
a great grand touring car. And there’s the car that
sparked my interest early on, the 1958 Corvette.
And a car I was given as a surprise birthday present,
a beautifully restored 1968 Camaro Apollo.
Q: At Gateway Canyons Resort, besides a
premium spa and equestrian centre, you have
a supercar driving programme, the Driven
Club in which guests can drive supercars. How
many supercars do you have?
A: We have twenty-two, from Corvettes to
Bentleys plus some really nice driving cars: Camaros, a Porsche, a Ford GT, a Viper, a Tesla, several
Jeeps. Plus a glorious setting to drive them.
Q: Last year you launched Curiosity Retreats
to inspire curious minds. Over one-third of the
guests are repeat. What draws them back?
A: About 75% of TV viewers want amusement or entertainment programming. The other
25% of viewers see television to learn about
the world; they watch news programmes and
documentaries. That’s the audience and the demographic I’ve always been drawn to. Curiosity
Retreats brings terrific featured speakers to this
ideal location to address topics in history, medicine, science, and things that weren’t even subjects when I was in college because science and
technology change so much.
Q: And you offer helicopter tours on the
property. What helicopter do you own?
A: An AS350 Eurocopter, the highest performing helicopter in the world, the only helicopter model that has landed on top of Mount
Everest. Our helicopter hangar is at the resort so
guests leave their rooms and walk over to the
helicopter hangar for a ride.
Q: Do you collect anything else besides cars?
A: I love maps. I inherited all my father’s
wonderful road map collection and have added
on to that. I collect large substantial fossils. To
me, fossils represent the history of the planet.
One of my favorites is a fossilized pine over 250
million years old that was in a pine forest in Patagonia. It’s almost like a jewel.
Q: If guests are coming in by private jet,
what’s the nearest FBO? Will you pick them
up in your chopper from the jetport?
A: We encourage people to fly their jets to
Grand Junction. West Star Aviation is the FBO
and we can have our helicopter waiting for them.
Other guests might prefer a Bentley or a Cadillac
Escalade. For large groups we arrange multiple
cars. If they want to test-drive a brand new Corvette Z06, we can have that available.
Q: What is the mission of the Curiosity Project?
A: The mission is, how do we keep on learning? One component is the retreats at Gateway
Canyons. They are high-end experiences for
about 80 lucky people who can come and afford
the tuition and be present with the speakers in
a very intimate setting. The other component is
CuriosityStream. We put the recorded lectures
online and combine them with other content
we’ve gathered from the entire world. People
who aren’t lucky enough to get into the retreats
can subscribe at a very modest cost, $2.99 a
month, for standard resolution streaming online
to $5.99 a month for high-definition streaming.
You can check it out: www.curiositystream.com
Q: I have, and I notice you also offer 4K
resolution. What is that?
A: It’s the next step up in high-definition
resolution. I believe strongly that consumers will
continue to migrate towards viewing platforms
that give them a closer to reality experience.
That’s why they migrated from black and white
TV to colour, then from colour to cable and digital. Cable and digital technology cleaned up the
television signal. 4K means 4,000 pixels, a much
higher, denser image than you have now with
Summer 2015 |
International 35
PROFILE: JOHN S HENDRICK S
high-definition resolution, almost four times as
sharp of a picture. I expect by the end of 2016
there will be about 10,000,000 US households
that will have 4K TV sets. We want to provide
content for those 4K television households. We’re
undertaking new 4K technology productions
such as Big Picture Earth now in production and
which we expect to begin airing this fall.
Q: Who is your aviation consultant?
A: Dennis Blackburn at Corporate Concepts
International. He found me my current plane, a
Falcon 900EX. He also found the helicopter we
have at Gateway Canyons. Dennis has set up a
special programme between Gateway Canyons
and West Star Aviation on fuel pricing. We also
arrange for housing or for hotel arrangements for
the pilots. We want to be a great destination for
the private aviation flyer.
Q: You now own your Falcon, but didn’t you
start flying privately with a NetJets share?
A: Yes, I was one of the earliest Net Jets owners back in late 1986 when they started that
private fractional ownership programme, a very
efficient programme. Discovery was one of the
early participants; we didn’t need the entire jet
at that time but it was great to start out with
fractional shares. Through the years, Discovery
increased its use of Net Jets. Then, for our own
convenience, my wife and I took an interest in
a Gulfstream 200. Three years ago, we decided
we were flying enough to justify having our own
plane and started looking for our private aircraft.
I love aviation; I’ve flown in almost every model
of airplane and settled on the Falcon, which has
really great range; we can reach South Africa or
Tokyo with only one stop. It’s a great plane for us.
have a trip planned, it’ll be my son and his wife
and my daughter and her husband. Sometimes
we use the plane for Curiosity Project business,
to get staff to Colorado.
Q: How does flying privately make your life
easier?
A: It saves so much time. The plane is ready
and waiting so we just drive to the FBO and get
on board. You don’t have to arrive in advance.
So many times there are last-minute commercial
delays, but flying privately that’s never an issue.
You’re never going to miss your flight. We set up
a target time for our departure. We keep our pilots informed as the date progresses, if we’re going to hit that particular departure time or not.
It’s just a great time-saver. It gives you so much
freedom to be able to fly into smaller airports. It’s
a great luxury, but it’s a great time-saver, something you really appreciate.
Q: How often do you fly?
A: About 450 hours a year.
Q: Who flies with you?
A: Generally, just my wife and I. When we
Q: Does an aircraft management company
manage your plane?
International | Summer 2015
Q: How close an eye do you keep on expenses?
Do you scrutinise bills or do you feel that if
they fall within an expected range, that’s fine?
A: We set up an annual budget for the Falcon operations. We fly about 450 hours a year,
so that comes out to a certain amount of money
you’re going to spend through your maintenance
cycle. There haven’t been any surprises; the only
surprise has been a pleasant one in the drop of
the fuel price. You negotiate the leases for your
hangar space, so there are no surprises there.
Generally, it’s just a function of the fuel price.
Q: Which completion centre did you use
when you bought the Falcon?
A: West Star Aviation in Grand Junction.
Q: Which FBOs do you frequently fly from?
A: In Florida, we use Banyan at the Fort Lauderdale Executive. The designator for that airport is
FXE. We lease our hangar space where the aircraft
is primarily hangared. We also use Dulles Jet Center
to hangar our aircraft in the Washington, DC area.
And we use West Star Aviation in Grand Junction.
These are the three primary ones that we use.
36
A: We have our own private flight department and our own pilots. Our flight department
is headed by our head pilot. We have a two-person crew and a director of maintenance. We fly
under Part 91. For maintenance and for all of our
operational needs, we use West Star Aviation. It’s
our go-to organisation for all of our routine maintenance. When we have some equipment installations – for instance, I decided to put winglets
on the aircraft -- that was handled directly by the
Dassault factory in Wilmington, Delaware.
Q: Tell me about the interior. Who chose it?
Did you use a designer?
A: My wife and I have flown so much on
NetJets and other aircraft that we had a good
sense of what styles we like: a little more traditional, not dark wood, a little medium wood.
We like an earth tone interior, more tans. My
wife picked out the leathers, wood grains, and
all the fabrics. She’s a quilt artist, has decorated
a lot of houses, and has a good eye for design.
We agreed on the choices. West Star helped us
every step of the way, putting forth all the different kind of samples that were readily available, everything from carpets to leathers and
seating choices.
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PROFILE: JOHN S HENDRICK S
Q: Who did you use for your cockpit
components?
A: West Star Aviation was responsible for the
upgrade of all the components. We used Honeywell products. West Star did the avionics upgrade
as well. The plane that we bought was located
in Finland. Dennis Blackburn found it for us. We
got it over for the pre-purchase inspection. It was
in terrific shape; it had been hangared and well
maintained all its life. When we bought it, we
did the 30-day pre-purchase inspection at West
Star and it passed with flying colours. As I recall,
it was a four-month process of completing the
aircraft with the standards we wanted. We like
everything about it.
Q: Whose fuel do you use?
A: Banyan Aviation is our primary fuel
source, as well as Dulles Jet Center. I think they
have a deal with Signature.
Q: What about catering? Does the pilot take
care of that or do you have preferred suppliers?
A: Before trips, my assistant asks what we
want. We have good menus. We’ll typically choose
chicken salad sandwiches for a short trip and for
longer trips, something a little more. My assistant
works with the FBOs and with our chief pilot.
Q: You’re a licensed pilot yourself. Have you
ever tried to fly your Falcon?
A: No. I just have a single engine land licence. I’m not an active flyer these days; in the
late 90s and early 2000s I was, but more recently I’ve been enjoying being a passenger.
Q: What plane will you buy next?
A: We fell in love with the Dassault product,
the Falcon product and there’s so much life left on
38
International | Summer 2015
in our own retreats and to look at other kinds of
activities in which we’re travelling to learn -- not
just go somewhere and sit on the beach for five
days. We prefer a trip in which we can understand the history of a place better.
Q: What is your passion?
A: Trying to understand not only this world,
but also the universe beyond. My wife and I are
lifelong learners.
this one it’s not something we anticipate. I think
the biggest choice we made was to put on winglets, so we have an airplane that will match any
new aircraft because we have the range supported
by the winglets. We have avionics that are 2014
fresh. If we were to look at new airplanes, I think
I’d probably still stay within the Dassault family.
Q: Have you considered letting your Curiosity
Retreats guests arrive in your private jet?
A: We’ve had some special guests and some
of our speakers who we’ve shuttled to Grand Junction. We’re glad to do that, especially if there’s a
group coming from New York, or from San Francisco, or Los Angeles. To make things easier for our
speakers, we use the Falcon. When there are six or
more guests coming from a particular location, we
give them complementary service.
Q: Now that you’re no longer running Discovery
and your daughter is running Curiosity Retreats,
what are you and your wife going to do with all
your free time besides travel?
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Q: What else are you and your wife going to
do with all your free time?
A: I’ve really wanted to explore this new
world of online delivery of great television products. In order to do CuriosityStream, I needed to
focus my full attention on that. I’m just now enjoying being a shareholder of Discovery.
Q: Didn’t you sell about $12 million shares
of stock?
A: Through the years I’ve sold shares of
stocks, generally on a quarterly basis just to diversify, but I’m still a shareholder. I sold maybe
$34 million worth of shares last year and about
that same amount the years before. But all I’m
doing is just diversifying a bit.
Q: What do you want your legacy to be?
A: Sharing knowledge. At Gateways Canyons, the planet opens up to tell its story. I’ve
been all over the world, but there’s just something about this Red Rock Canyon country of
Western Colorado with its geological history and
natural history that really speaks to me. It’s my
favourite spot in the world. The dream here is to
have a great place for a wonderful and enriching
vacation, but also have the means to satisfy your
personal curiosities. That is our goal. Q
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NEXTANT: SEAN MCGEOUGH
Sales keep rolling
Interview with
Sean McGeough, President
and CEO, Nextant Aerospace
40
International | Summer 2015
W
hile some in the business aviation sector are
still finding it hard to
make headway, Nextant
Aerospace has been doing exceptionally well
with its remanufactured business jet, the 400XTi.
On 15 March the company signed a deal with the
fractional light jet provider, PlaneSense Inc, for five
400XTi aircraft. PlaneSense President and CEO
George Antoniadis noted at the time that the reason the company had decided to move away from
its stated policy of only buying new Pilatus 12s for
its fleet, was that he and his team were very impressed by the 400XTi remanufacturing process
and the resulting enhancements to the jet.
PlaneSense has placed two firm orders
for aircraft that will be delivered in June
and early in the fourth quarter and has
signed an option for three more.
Sean McGeough, President and
CEO of Nextant Aerospace reckons
that a good part of the reason for
the company’s success through 2014
and the first quarter of 2015 is that it has
a great product at half the price of the competition, thanks to the remanufacturing process.
McGeough would love to see Nextant’s success
replicated across the light jets sector – but sitting on the board of both GAMA (the General
Aviation Manufacturers Association) and the Remanufacturing Association, he gets a reasonably
good view of just how challenging things are for
the world’s major economies.
“The recovery from the Great Recession of
2008 is still very slow. The light jet segment of
the market continues to be the most difficult
and when it comes to selling aircraft, you can
never predict exactly how things are going to
go. I’ve found this throughout my career. So
we work hard and take each sales opportunity
very seriously. We’re finding sales despite economic headwinds. For example we continue to
enjoy sales in Europe despite the fact that the
euro has depreciated heavily against the dollar,
which makes us look more expensive to European buyers,” he comments.
When EVA spoke to McGeough he had
just returned from a demonstration tour of
Latin America, where he did an eight-city
NEXTANT: SEAN MCGEOUGH
effort into the project, because they can’t see
sufficient demand, and the sales of their C-Series
regional jet have been hit by low oil prices removing much of the competitive edge they’d counted
on by bringing a more fuel-efficient aircraft to
market. The new CEO of Bombardier is very well
respected in the industry and I’m sure he will
steer Bombardier successfully through what is
quite a rough patch for the company. But there is
no doubt that OEMs are going to have to make
some tough decisions if we don’t see a real boost
to the global economy soon. Bombardier is now
focusing on its core strengths and this is what
everyone is going to have to do,” he comments.
On the plus side, McGeough says that there is
a definite feeling of increased optimism among
US businesses. “80% of our deliveries in 2014
were to our domestic US market, though our
tour, demonstrating the 400XTi to prospective
customers. “I could probably do a number of
demonstrations in North America in the time it
took us to do the one tour in Latin America. But it
is absolutely essential to put the product in front
of the customer. It is a very vibrant market and
we definitely need to be there and to help prospective customers in South American countries
see what remanufacturing is all about and how
good the end product is,” he comments.
Given that the sales cycle in aeroplanes is
not exactly fast moving, McGeough does not
expect to see the fruits of that Latin American tour immediately, but the level of interest
shown was very encouraging. “We’ve been going a little over two years now and it is very
encouraging to see the level of acceptance of
remanufacturing that we have been able to
create across the sector. We won the award for
the best OEM in business aviation in March,
and we were up against the likes of Pilatus
with the P24 and Aerion with their supersonic jet concept,” he notes. The key to that
win was the entrepreneurial flair that Nextant
has demonstrated, along with the innovation
it has brought by applying remanufacturing
techniques to the aircraft industry.
“Remanufacturing is far from new. The big
commercial airlines have been doing it for years,
remanufacturing components to a higher standard than the originals, and many industrial companies, including Caterpillar, have been doing it
for years. It has been a great boost for us to see
Hawker jet products
were great but there
was a period when they
were not a favoured
product in a more
competitive market
the likes of GE Aviation and Garmin coming in
and endorsing our approach to remanufacturing,
with their partnership in the G90XT,” McGeough
says. The G90XT is the result of Nextant’s remanufacturing of the Beechcraft C90 turboprop,
in which Nextant is replacing Pratt & Whitney
PT6 engines with GE’s H75 series engine, itself a
modernised version of the old Walter M601. Certification of the G90XT was imminent at the time
EVA went to press.
Looking at the OEM industry as a whole,
McGeough reckons that the sector could well
see further consolidation. “We already lost one
major player in Hawker. I was with Hawker
Beechcraft for many years. Our jet products
were great but there was a period when they
were not a favoured product in a more competitive market. We’ve seen Bombardier shelving the Lear 85 after putting a great deal of
bookings split 60-40 between the US and the
rest of the world. Our US bookings have been
boosted by the fact that a major operator in the
North East of the USA recently placed an order
for five 400XTi jets. They had placed a very large
order for the PC24 but then they did their due diligence and chose Nexant instead, which was very
gratifying,” he notes. The United States EXIM
Bank is now supporting Nextant with the financing of Nextant jet sales. “That is a real plus for
us and is very exciting,” McGeough commented.
In a way, the tighter conditions and the fact
that the economy is not picking up as fast as people expected is playing to Nextant’s strengths, he
argues. “I like the position we are in. Corporates
can buy a light jet like the 400XTi much more easily than they can a mid-size jet. I think we will be
seeing a real resurgence in the light jet market in
the US over the next year or two,” he concludes. Q
Summer 2015 |
International
41
FEATURE: G-OPS
G-OPS expands internationally
W
ith a decade of experience in maintaining a
stellar record of excellence in the provision
of ground services in
France, G-OPS has now
matured to the point where it is expanding its
operations beyond France’s borders. As Karim
Berrandou, CEO and founder of G-Ops notes,
the company’s customer base, which includes
many of the largest private companies and embassies, has repeatedly asked G-OPS to consider
supervising its flights beyond France and into
Europe and Africa.
The first step in this expansion was undertaken last year, with the establishment of G-OPS Europe. Fortuitously, the launch of G-OPS Europe coincided with the company’s 10th anniversary – a
42
International | Summer 2015
particularly proud moment for Karim and all his
staff. Now, in 2015, G-OPS has judged that the
moment is right for the launch of G-OPS Africa.
The company provides a full suite of services
to clients internationally. It is able to monitor
all operational aspects including: traffic rights,
permits and slots, global handling, reservation
of hotels, catering and limo service from Berlin
to Casablanca. G-OPS also arranges re-fuelling,
taking care of both a potential source of flight
delay and a major expense concern for operators
and owners. Rates are checked daily by the company’s fuel department to ensure that clients get
the best deal possible at that point in time.
For over a year now, Berrandou and G-OPS
have benefited from the experience and skills of
Franck Canu, G-OPS Commercial Director. Canu
joined the company in early 2014 and brings
with him a wealth of experience in customer
relations and ground services. Another key staff
member is Leïla Medjahed, quality and operation manager.
All companies in the business aviation sector
are under pressure to help the sector ‘green up’
its image and practices. G-OPS has implemented
its own Green-OPS challenge, proving that ecofriendly operations can indeed co-exist with a
business growth of in excess of 24% in 2014.
During that year some 3,150 flights were successfully supervised. In line with its green approach,
the company has invested in hybrid vehicles and
will shortly be moving into a new, more energyefficient building as part of the ongoing development of its services.
G-OPS is in the process of launching a new
Internet site with a new image but as always,
the goal remains the same: to excel in the provision of quality services that guarantee customer satisfaction. Q
FEATURE: HIGHPROFILE
Jets & Helicopters
Worldwide
New office in Africa
Casablanca
w w w. h i g h p rof i l e . f r
Paris headquarter
24/7
+33(0)1 34 19 24 24
[email protected]
HighProfile opens new Casablanca office
H
ighProfile is a dedicated
business and VIP aviation
broker, specializing in providing travel services to
high net worth individuals
and senior management.
The last four years have seen the company
grow dramatically, achieving an average annual growth in turnover of over 50%. To accompany this development, in March HighProfile
opened a new office in Casablanca .
Commenting on the new Casablanca office,
CEO Karim Berrandou said: “The African charter
market is seeing ever-increasing demand as African executives from mid-sized companies look to
exploit opportunities, create deals and open new
markets. At the same time the combined economies of Africa are growing at an average of over
5% per annum according to the OECD and the In-
ternational Monetary Fund. This is so much faster
that the growth being experienced in advanced
markets like Europe and the UK. Our new office in
Morocco puts us in a great position to be a part of
Africa’s exciting economic development.s
Sales Manager Emma Berkovits considers:
“HighProfile has a well-deserved reputation for
excellence in meeting client requirements and exceeding client expectations. Our team of experts
provides the optimal blend of safety, comfort and
confidentiality for executives and high net worth
individuals at the very best quality/price ratio
from among rigorously selected operators. Our
mission is to find the finest aircraft and the best
match to the client’s requirements from among
the over 20,000 jets and 5,000 helicopters that
are available worldwide. We then provide detailed
supervision of the flight to ensure the best possible travel experience.”
“Our sister company, G-OPS, is the French
leader in ground support services and has a real
depth of knowledge concerning the technical
requirements of airports and the quality of various operators and service providers. As such, the
close working relationship between HighProfile
and G-OPS helps to strengthen the quality of service we are able to provide to clients.”
Berrandou adds: “We are glad to offer our
clients a bespoke travel service, matched to their
precise requirements, worldwide. We will be extending our presence in strategic areas around
the world to be more efficient and reactive. HighProfile will continue to expand, opening new offices wherever there is greatest client demand.
Our priority is to guarantee our clients high
quality service and safe travel, ensuring that the
HighProfile brand continues to be synonymous
with quality and reliability.” Q
Summer 2015 |
International
43
Q&A: MAURO GROSSI
Building
for the
future
A conversation with AMAC CFO Mauro Grossi
Q: AMAC is one of the largest privately owned completions centre in
the world, and you are now in the process of building a fourth hangar
at your base at EuroAirport, Basel-Mulhouse. What has it taken to get
to this point?
A: To reach the point where we are now, to put together the skills
required to do green aircraft completions and to provide comprehensive
wide-body MRO services, has taken a very steady hand. It looks like
rapid growth from our launch in 2007, but the growth has been carefully calculated and has proceeded step by step. Everything has been
done organically. We have not been in the business of acquiring other
companies to accelerate our growth.
Our first hangar was opened around October 2008. The initial idea
was to focus on MRO, but we were lucky enough to get a completions
project straight away. The response from the market to that first job
was very encouraging and that pushed us to continue down the path of
becoming a world-class completions centre, as well as offering bestin-class MRO services.
Q: I imagine that on that first completions project you had
to outsource some of the specialist work. What is your view
of outsourcing now?
A: Initially we had all the basic engineering competences
we required in-house but until we built the second hangar
in 2010 and recruited upholstery and cabinet-making skills
44
International | Summer 2015
Q&A: MAURO GROSSI
in-house, we had to give out the big cabinetry work to outside suppliers. However, even
then we did the more complicated and intricate work in-house. As our base of skills and
knowledge has grown, we have cut back on
outsourcing in order to have pricing and quality control firmly in our own hands.
Q: What has the investment to date been
in hangars?
A: Not counting the fourth hangar we are
currently building, the total investment has
been between 80 million and 90 million euros.
That is a major investment for any company
and it needs a lot of commitment from the
shareholders and management to invest on
this scale. We completed the third hangar in
2012. Our first hanger was 4,500 square metres. The second and third were about 8,700
square metres. This fourth hangar is slightly
smaller, at around 7,000 square metres. Its
purpose is to provide additional space so that
it is easier to move aircraft around for MRO
purposes. It will help us accommodate the
peaks that we now experience. It will provide
some more room for growth as well, but that is
a secondary target.
Q: How many completions a year do you
aim for?
A: The number of completions depends
on the size of the aircraft. If you have a mix
that includes, say, a 747 for refurbishment,
plus a BBJ and an ACJ, we would say that
three completion projects a year would be
a good target. You do not want to risk compromising the quality of the finished product by taking on too many projects at any
one time. This is why our fourth hangar is
not primarily for growth, but rather to absorb the peaks in our workload on the MRO
side. When we have several big aircraft in for
As our base of skills
and knowledge has
grown, we have cut
back on outsourcing in
order to have pricing
and quality control
firmly in our own hands
Summer 2015 |
International
45
Q&A: MAURO GROSSI
serious maintenance, along with some completions projects, positioning all the aircraft in
our current layout can be challenging.
Q: What is the split between MRO and
completions?
A: The average for the last few years has
worked out at roughly a 40-60 split, with
completions being 60% of the workload and
maintenance amounting to 40%. On the maintenance side our primary customers are ACJs
and BBJs, along with the bigger Gulfstreams
and Bombardier Global Expresses. The focus is
definitely on the bigger aircraft, which is why
space is a real issue. The idea is to have one
hangar dedicated for completions and the rest
for maintenance.
Q: What is your biggest challenge as CFO?
A: As with every CFO, the big challenge
is always to have the finances correctly balanced between investment and cash flows, so
that you can maintain the appropriate level of
organic growth without undue risk. Finding financing for big projects is always a challenge
but if you plan properly it is achievable. The
other focus is ensuring that maintenance revenues are regular and strong.
shows such as EBACE. We work continuously at
keeping our name up before the customers.
Q: Do you insist on cash up front for MRO
work with new customers?
A: Our policies are very specific to the individual customer and obviously to our underlying judgement on the risks involved. We have
a basic policy but it is fine tuned for each customer, and is dependent on the customer’s history with us. The basic idea for a new customer
is to mandate payment before departure, but
we take a view on that based on the financial
standing of the customer and the trust level
that has been built up.
Q: AMAC has been a privately owned
company from the start. Have you considered
opening up to outside capital?
A: As you say, we are privately owned and
we pride ourselves on being a family company
with strong family values. We want to keep the
structure as it is and we do not go in for expansion unless we can see a strong case for it. We
watch market demand very closely and all our
growth has been organic – that is the way we
like it. The philosophy of AMAC’s founder is
that the company should stay family driven,
and be run for the benefit of the families of all
the people who work for AMAC. Being a family-run company goes to the core of our culture.
Q: Completions is a highly competitive
business. What is the key to success?
A: The business aviation sector is not that
big an industry and good feedback in the shape
of word of mouth recommendations is absolutely vital. We need to look constantly for customers and you need to do great work. If you
do, then that gets known in the industry and
people come to you. Plus, of course, we keep
our profile up through attendance at the major
Q: What is your pipeline of work like?
A: We have a full schedule of projects
that will take us through to late 2016. By that
stage other projects, some of which we are already discussing, will have matured. We have
some exciting projects in the pipeline that we
will announce in good time. Q
AMAC’s upper
management team
We are privately owned
and we pride ourselves on
being a family company
with strong family values
46
International | Summer 2015
FEATURE: PAINT
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Spring 2015 |
International
47
BOEING: DESIGNER’S DREAM
787
Dreamliner
At EBACE 2008 Lufthansa
debuted a 1:20 scale model
of the Dreamliner, complete
with design features from
Andrew Winch Designs
48
International | Summer 2015
T
the designer’s
dream VIP jet?
he first green VIP 787 Dreamliner aircraft were delivered to some of
the premier Boeing completions houses last year, somewhat more than
seven years after Boeing rolled the gleaming shell of the very first 787
out into the sunlight in July 2007, to the ecstatic cheers of 15,000
Boeing employees. In addition to 238 deliveries and 1,105 orders from
commercial airlines for the 787-8, there are now 12 VIP confirmed
sales, including those already delivered to completions centres run by Lufthansa,
GDC Technics and Jet Aviation.
Designers began drooling over the 787 from the moment of its announcement. At
EBACE 2008 Lufthansa debuted a 1:20 scale model of the Dreamliner, complete with
design features from Andrew Winch Designs. It also beat other completions houses to
the punch by announcing at the time that it had secured letters of commitment from
an unnamed client to carry out the first VIP Dreamliner green aircraft completion.
In February 2014 Gore Design Completions, now GDC Technics, took delivery of
the first of two Dreamliners for VVIP/Head of State clients, with the second one arriving towards the end of the year. At the time GDC said that it expected each of
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BOEING: DESIGNER’S DREAM
the completions to take around three years.
Mohammed Alzeer, GDC General Partner, said
that the company had made a very substantial investment, of the order of US$20 million
in preparation. Much of this went on tooling,
and on installing the Dassault Systèmes Catia engineering software it required to work
on the details of the interior design.
One of the biggest challenges for completions houses posed by the Dreamliner, apart
from its scale, is the fact that the airframe itself
is a composite structure rather than the metal
airframes they have worked on until now. As
Alzeer noted at the time, previous engineering
solutions can’t just be lifted and applied to the
787. Everyone involved had to grapple with a
steep new learning curve as they worked out
what could and couldn’t be done in terms of
attaching fittings to the composite shell.
50
International | Summer 2015
As if the 787-8 were not enough of a designer’s dream space, the stretched variant,
the 787-9, adds a further 20 feet of fuselage
space to the party. In June 2013, at the Paris
Air Show in Le Bourget, Boeing upped the ante
yet again with the official launch of the 78710, due to enter service in 2018. The fuselage
length of the 787-10 is 68 metres, 11 metres
longer than the 787-8’s 57 metres, creating
another 33 feet of cabin length for designers
to play with.
Designers faced with the challenge posed
by the problem of how to produce an elegant
and distinctive solution to the many thousands
of square feet contained in a new, large luxury
hotel might scoff at the idea that kitting out
a 787 is a big deal. However, as every completions house knows, solutions that work on
the ground tend to fall on their face in the
One of the biggest
challenges for completions
houses posed by the
Dreamliner, apart from its
scale, is the fact that the
airframe itself is a composite
structure rather than the
metal airframes they have
worked on until now
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BOEING: DESIGNER’S DREAM
Commercial airframe
manufacturers like Boeing
know that they are only
going to achieve breakeven
some years after the launch
of a new aircraft
52
International | Summer 2015
air, where people are constrained to remain for
hours in a space that, even in the largest airline, remains confined.
Notoriously, while the VIP versions of the
787 are mouth-watering instances of designer glory, the Dreamliner continues to be
a black hole for Boeing as far as cash burn
is concerned. In the first quarter of 2015 JP
Morgan Chase analysts estimated that Boeing lost $30 million per 787 delivered – that
being the difference between the sale price
and the unit production price. Giving a man
$100 in exchange for him giving you $85
is a sure way to go broke if you repeat it often enough. However, commercial airframe
manufacturers like Boeing know that they
are only going to achieve breakeven some
years after the launch of a new aircraft, once
they have got their production lines working to the right capacity levels and honed
their supplier and staff relationships to drive
costs down.
Boeing still argues that the 787 programme
will achieve breakeven somewhere around the
1,100 deliveries mark. Right now it is producing 10 787s a month and plans to ramp that
up to 12 by the end of next year, and 14 by
the end of the decade. Do the math and that
amounts to around 120 to 144 aircraft a year
with a maximum production run of under 170
a year, putting breakeven, never mind profitability, at least a decade away. Which goes to
show, in the most emphatic way possible, that
building glorious new aircraft requires both
deep pockets and a very solid revenue stream
from older models. Q
PROFILE: VECTOR AEROSPACE
Shooting for constant
service excellence
V
ector Aerospace Corporation was created in 1998 through an initial public offering
(IPO), and quickly established itself as a significant player in the global aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services industry. The company’s pre-history goes
back to the 1940s and 1950s in North America, where it can trace its roots back to the
rotary specialist, Okanagan Helicopters, which was formed in British Columbia, Canada in 1947,
and which would ultimately become CHC Helicopters 40 years later.
Initially the company’s MRO skills were deployed in supporting its own fleet of helicopters,
but over time the work expanded to include
steady business from other international helicopter and fixed wing operators. In 1990 CHC,
as the company was then known, refocused its
MRO business to form ACRO Aerospace. Within
eight years CHC had three different repair and
overhaul businesses under its wing. In addition
to ACRO Aerospace, there was Atlantic Turbines
Inc, located on Prince Edward Island, Canada,
and Sigma Aerospace, which had been created
through the acquisition of Hunting Airmotive,
based in Croydon, UK, in March 1998.
The logical next move was to combine all
three into a new wholly-owned subsidiary called
Vector Aerospace Corporation. CHC management took this step in early 1998, then IPO’d the
new business in June 1998, retaining just a 20%
stake in Vector Aerospace, which was now master
of its own fate. CHC divested its remaining holding the following year.
The new company began to grow through
acquisitions. In 1999, Vector Aerospace acquired
the Washington-based helicopter and turboshaft
Repair and Overhaul company Helipro, along
with Californian APU and avionics repair and
overhaul provider Tower Aviation Services, which
was renamed Alameda Aerospace. Helipro was
merged with ACRO Aerospace in 2004, leading
to the creation of ACROHELIPRO Global Services.
Pathix ASP, the information technology division of Vector Aerospace Corporation, was
formed in 2000. While Pathix has deep technical networking skills that can be deployed across
a range of business sectors, its core services to
the business aviation sector are based around
its unique software, Navixa, a total information
54
International | Summer 2015
and management software package designed to
support aviation operating companies and aviation repair and overhaul companies. Pathix ASP’s
Navixa software currently supports some 600
aircraft around the world.
In 2008, Vector Aerospace acquired the UK
MoD’s Defence Aviation Repair Agency (DARA)
Rotary Wing and Components businesses, located in Fleetlands, England and Almondbank,
Scotland. This acquisition significantly reinforced
Vector Aerospace’s presence in the military MRO
market, adding to the company’s existing support
of the UK MoD through Sigma’s support of VC10
(Conway) and C-130 (T56) powerplants, the latter subsequently being transferred to Fleetlands.
The Fleetlands site itself has a heritage going back to 1940, when it was first created as
the Royal Naval Air Yard to provide repair and
overhaul services for naval fixed wing aircraft.
Fleetlands would later take on rotary wing repair
and overhaul as helicopters entered the Navy’s
inventory, and following the creation of DARA in
1999, the site became DARA Fleetlands.
2008 also saw Vector Aerospace unify its
operational divisions under the family brand
Vector Aerospace, helping ensure the consistent delivery of its industry-leading services to
its helicopter and fixed wing customers around
the globe.
A third development in 2008 was the opening of a local engine service centre in Nairobi,
Kenya. This investment reflected Vector Aerospace’s commitment to its international customers, and to small/medium-sized operators as well
as large fleet customers.
In 2009, Vector Aerospace acquired Pratt &
Whitney Canada’s MRO unit in Lanseria, South
Africa, a year after opening a local engine service
centre there. As well as strengthening the
company’s presence in Africa, this facility –
originally established in 1996 and formally
reopened in November 2010 – also added
valuable capacity to Vector Aerospace’s
engine business.
In June 2011, Vector Aerospace was acquired by Eurocopter Holdings, the holding entity of the Eurocopter Group and a subsidiary
of global aerospace and defence giant EADS.
This tie-up with Eurocopter provides Vector
Aerospace with unique opportunities for the
development of new markets, new products
and joint synergies. At the same time, Eurocopter has been careful to allow Vector Aerospace
to retain a high level of autonomy – as indicated by the retention of the Vector Aerospace
brand name – thus protecting the company’s
reputation for responsiveness and avoiding
any conflicts with its other OEM partners.
Following Eurocopter’s acquisition of Vector
Aerospace, EADS made the decision to transfer
its SECA engine MRO holding to Vector Aerospace, in order to realise the obvious synergies
between the two companies. SECA, located
close to Le Bourget Airport on the outskirts of
Paris, France, was founded in 1946, since which
time the company has become well known for
its support of Honeywell and Pratt & Whitney
Canada engines.
In 2012, Vector Aerospace acquired Pratt
& Whitney Canada’s PT6A engine repair and
overhaul facility in Brisbane, Australia, the facility – originally established in 1986 and formally
reopened in March 2013 – being appointed as a
Designated Overhaul Facility (DOF) for the PT6A.
In May 2015 Vector Aeropsace officially
opened its newest facility in Singapore. This
5200 sq metre facility will initially service the
PW150A engine which powers the Bombardier
Q400 aircraft.
Today Vector has more than 2,700 employees and services more than 3,000 customers in
85 countries. The company has over 1.6 million
square feet of hangar space globally.
Vector Aerospace continues to build on its
proud history of superior customer service and
diverse, expert technical capability as it moves
forward. The company is committed to delivering
the highest standards of quality workmanship
and customer service. Q
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M O O N E Y I N T E R N AT I O N A L : J E R RY C H E N
Texas phoenix:
Mooney reborn
As a young boy, Jerry Chen glimpsed aircraft in the skies
over Taiwan only rarely. Now his vision is to fill the
China airspace with iconic Mooney planes. By Rick Adams
“F
rom about the time I was six years old, I dreamed of flying,”
Jerry Chen recalls. Born Cheng Yuan, he saw very few airplanes
growing up in the 1980s on the island of Taiwan. When he was
10, a father’s friend introduced him to radio-controlled model
airplanes, which at the time was an expensive hobby. “And they
were not easy to operate,” he remembers.
When Chen acquired a build-it-yourself model kit, the exercise inspired him “to
start to think about how to make better-designed airplanes”. This nascent interest
eventually led him to seek a higher education in aerodynamics, earning two Master’s
degrees and a PhD in aerospace and mechanical engineering and electrical engineering at the University of Southern California (USC). He stayed at USC to teach
for nearly a decade. “The Southern California area was very active in aviation,” Dr
Chen notes, and he was exposed to companies such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin and
SpaceX through the academic relationship. He gained experience in control systems,
wind tunnel testing, supersonics, unmanned aircraft and other aero subjects.
“I first heard about Mooney 15 years ago. A lot of my friends in Southern
California were Mooney owners, and they were in love with their airplanes. They
could tell you all about it in detail, the special features compared with other
types of airplanes. The unique tail. The moving control surfaces. Smoothing out
the rivets.” To an aerodynamicist like Chen, the Mooney mystique was captivating. “I learned more about the good Mooney design, the basic design from 60
years ago. Basics don’t change,” Chen emphasises.
56
International | Summer 2015
M O O N E Y I N T E R N AT I O N A L : J E R RY C H E N
The Mooney Aircraft Company was started
by Albert and Arthur Mooney in 1929, the year
of the first US stock market crash, and promptly went bankrupt within a few months. In
1946, they started a new Mooney company in
central Texas, producing a single-seat, singleengine sport aircraft known as the Mite, which
appealed to fighter pilots leaving military service after World War II. Some describe today’s
Mooney M20 as a scaled-up Mite.
Mooney designs have always been known
for their speed, and today they claim the turbo-normalised Acclaim Type S is “the fastest
single-engine piston airplane on the market”.
Through its history, Mooney models have collected well over 100 speed records.
More than 11,000 Mooneys have been
sold. However, as a small-scale manufacturer,
Mooney was subject to the vagaries of the
economic swings of the general aviation market. There were bankruptcies in the ‘60s and
‘70s, some as the result of unfortunate mergers, and again in 2004. In 2006, after turnaround specialist Gretchen Jahn had become
the first female CEO of an American aircraft
manufacturer, Mooney announced the M20TN
Acclaim design with Garmin G1000 cockpit at
the annual Sun ‘N Fun fly-in event in Florida,
followed a year later by the Type S.
But in 2008 with the onset of the global recession, Mooney started layoffs, eventually tapering down to what constituted a skeleton crew for
spare parts supply and customer support.
“When I heard about the management
trouble, I started to see if I could connect with
enough funding to make a change,” Chen told
EVA. By 2013, Chen had created a company
58
International | Summer 2015
When I heard about the
management trouble, I
started to see if I could
connect with enough
funding to make a change
called Soaring America and arranged for financial backing from investors led by Chinese
real estate developer Meijing Group. He also
assembled a leadership team with strong operations, manufacturing, accounting, and engineering credentials. Once again, the revered
Mooney brand was reborn.
The China connection is not only financial.
Chen is hoping the Chinese and Asian markets
will reward the general and business aviation
expectations that many manufacturers have
predicted for decades. “The market potential
is big. If China really opens up, we will set up
manufacturing there,” Chen stated. “The government is promoting it, but they don’t have
the infrastructure or the skilled workforce. To
make it happen, we need to do everything
from scratch.” Chen contrasted the US, in
which the GA market has had several decades
to develop, with China, which has exhibited
interest for only about 10 years.
For the time being, Mooney is manufacturing and flight testing production aircraft
in Kerrville, Texas. Then it disassembles the
plane, shipping it for re-assembly at a Meijingowned facility in Zhengzhou, Hainan province
(China’s first ‘air economic zone’, established
in 2013). “It takes some effort; it takes a
while,” Chen admits. Mooney delivered the
first Chinese B-registered aircraft in January.
The new Mooney M10T trainer aircraft, announced in November 2014 at Airshow China in
Zhuhai, is also targeted at the Chinese market.
Because of the scarcity and expense of avgas
in the country, the trainer features a 135-horsepower Continental CD-135 diesel-engine option
(a derivative of a Mercedes-Benz car engine design). Continental is owned by holding company
Aviation Industry Corporation of China – AVIC.
The M10T design also incorporates composite
materials for the Mooney fuselage and familiar
forward-canted vertical stabiliser. The faster
companion 155-hp M10J, featuring more interior comforts, will be pitched to private owners.
The M10T and M10J designs, with a 2017 certification goal, are in development at Mooney’s
Chino, California HQ/R&D centre, where about
70 people are employed.
A majority of the more than 40 orders to
date for new Mooney’s current production
models – the 247-knot cruise speed, 1,650nm, US$699,000 M20TN Acclaim Type S
and the normally aspirated, 197-knot cruise,
1,860- to 2,400-nm, $649,000 Ovation3
– are from Chinese buyers. But Chen is not
pushing hard for sales. “We have tried to limit
Who helps ensure Duncan Aviation’s
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We engineer each and
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drawings and technical
specifications down to an
eighth of an inch for the
involved
Duncan Aviation pairs its customerspaint
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project
managers to provide a single point of contact regardless
of how many shops touch an aircraft during its stay.
Project Manager Tiffany Griffin works with schedulers
and maintenance, interior, engine and paint shop team
members to ensure that her customers are always aware
of what’s happening with their aircraft.
Just as importantly, Tiffany keeps the various shops
in the loop on the progress of the work in order to
accommodate tight schedules, making small tweaks as
needed to ensure promised aircraft out-dates are met.
In July, Tiffany was part of a team that oversaw 13
aircraft scheduled for maintenance, interior and/or
paint work at Duncan Aviation’s Battle Creek, Michigan,
facility. Every single aircraft delivered on time.
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orders. Our operations and services need to
catch up.” Mooney has established a sales office
in Beijing, and Chinese mechanics and instructor pilots have been training in Texas to provide
customer support in the region. Worldwide, Chen
said 260 potential customers have expressed
strong interest.
Chief Operating Officer Tom Bowen said by
September Mooney expects to be producing
three airplanes per month. Part of the challenge
is that they are handmade. “Our goal is 4,000
hours per aircraft. Right now we’re averaging
about 5,000,” Bowen said. New tooling and processes to modernise the factory floor, in development over the past year, are about to kick in.
“A lot of these processes are just coming on line,
so we expect a healthy reduction.” CEO Chen,
by the way, knows his way around a shop; he
learned to operate high-end equipment in his
father’s machine factory in Taiwan.
A hallmark of the Mooney brand has been
the craftsmanship of a very skilled and experienced workforce. Of the 130 employees now
in Kerrville, about 80% were with Mooney
previously. “That’s the whole reason Mooney
relocated here,” Bowen said.
Jolie Lucas, one of the co-founders with her
husband Mitch Latting of an organisation known
as Mooney Ambassadors, told us “the pride in
craftsmanship is so high.” She said, “I know the
person who wired my airplane. I know the person
who made my wing.” Actually, four wings – Lucas flies a 1965 E Model Super 21 and a 1994
Ovation. The Ambassadors are a relatively recent
creation, formed in 2009 when Mooney was in
hibernation. To keep the spirit of Mooney alive,
owner-pilots would fly to events throughout the
US and Canada, even in Europe, South America,
and Australia. “We’re crazy about our brand. We
believe so strongly in a properly manufactured
airplane, we knew production would come back.
It just needed an infusion of capital. It took
someone like Dr Chen with forward thinking and
vision to make it happen.”
The first Type S off the resurrected Kerrville
assembly line was auctioned to fund the Mooney
We’re crazy about our brand.
We believe so strongly in a properly
manufactured airplane, we knew
production would come back. It just
needed an infusion of capital
Jolie Lucas
60
International | Summer 2015
Aviation Education Foundation, which will establish a museum, as well as programmes to
support STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education in Central
Texas. COO Bowen, who was also the operations chief of a previous Mooney incarnation
in the 1990s, is a founding director along
with Chen and Chairwoman Veronica Wang.
Partnered with the Lone Star Flight Museum
at Houston’s Ellington Field, part of the Aviation Learning Centre (ALC) curriculum will put
students in a Redbird flight simulator. “At the
ALC, they’ll learn about airplane systems, aerodynamic theories, do their own pre-flight and
meteorology, and then fly a Mooney-configured simulator from Point A to Point B. There’s
not a better application of STEM,” Bowen said.
In Dr Chen’s childhood, the inspiration
for an aviation career came from simulating
flight with a model airplane. For the next generation of Mooney devotees, perhaps this new
ALC opportunity will provide the spark for a
lasting passion. Q
DASSAULT: X FACTOR
Dassault’s
new X-factors
Falcon business aircraft combine the soul of a fighter jet with the interior
comfort of your personal bedroom suite. This year, for the first time, Dassault
Aviation is developing two new Falcons simultaneously, the 5X and the 8X.
Rick Adams reports from France
“I
f you are talking with pilots anywhere, they will tell you the real
difference. Handling qualities
for Falcons are one of the benchmarks,” Frédéric Petit told EVA . Petit is in charge of the new Falcon 8X
and all other Falcon programmes with the
exception of the Falcon 5X, which is being
developed in parallel.
Like the Falcon 7X on which it is based,
the 8X features fly-by-wire controls. “We pioneered this technology on fighters,” adds Vadim Feldzer, who leads communications for
the Falcon line. “Our airplanes have always
been very optimised because we have the
same engineers who are developing fighters that fly at Mach 2 with very high-performance, highly efficient aerodynamics.”
Just as the original Falcon 20 drew on Dassault’s experience with the Mystère fighter, the
Falcon 5X and 8X are today benefiting from
designs applied to the Rafale, which Dassault
recently sold to both the Qatari and Indian defence forces.
Falcon 5X roll-out in June
The clean-sheet, twin-engine, super-midsize Fal-
62
International | Summer 2015
con 5X is scheduled for its maiden flight on 2
June at Dassault’s Bordeaux-Merignac facility
in southwest France.
The flight will represent the first time a
Falcon has launched with an all-new powerplant: the 11,450 pound thrust Silvercrest
engine which is also French manufacturer Safran Snecma’s first business jet model. Flight
testing of the Silvercrest is ongoing in San Antonio, Texas, with certification expected next
year. The engine has been in development for
10 years, and draws on Snecma’s extensive
commercial aircraft experience with the bestselling CFM56, of which more than 25,000
units are flying.
The Falcon 5X was announced in October
2013 at the National Business Aviation Association (NBAA) annual conference. It is expected
to be certified in 2016 and enter into service
in 2017.
With a range of 5,200 nautical miles, the
5X competes with the 5,500-nm Bombardier
Global 5000 and the new 5,000-nm Gulfstream 500. The Falcon 5X sells for around
US$45 million, compared to $43.5million for
the G500 and $49million for the Global 5000.
Originally known as the SMS during its se-
cretive pre-launch preparation, the 5X features
the largest cross-section among Falcon cabins
with a 6 foot 6 inch ceiling height and an aisle
wide enough for two passengers to actually
move past each other. The cabin will be brightened during the day by 28 windows, as well as
a ‘skylight’ in the fuselage ceiling.
The flight deck resembles the 7X, with sidestick controls and a flat panel array. Like the
8X, the Falcon 5X will also offer a third-generation EASy (Enhanced Avionics System) integrated cockpit based on Honeywell’s Primus
Epic system with a new flight management
system (FMS) and 3D weather display. Options
include a head-up display from Elbit Systems
with both advanced infrared and synthetic
vision. Petit said the synthetic vision, derived
from a terrain database, is applied to sectors
which are distant from the aircraft, with the
infrared kicking in at closer range.
Falcon 8X service entry in 2016?
Two of the three planned Falcon 8X flight test
aircraft have been in action, the first in February, the second in April. The aircraft was rolled
out in December, and the entry into service target is next year.
DASSAULT: X FACTOR
THE DASSAULT FALCON LINEUP
AIRCRAFT
RANGE
PASSENGERS
ENGINES
SERVICE ENTRY
Falcon 8X
6,450 nm
8
PW307D
2016
Falcon 7X
5.950 nm
8
PW307A
2007
Falcon 5X
5,200 nm
8
Silvercrest
2017
Falcon 900LX
4,750 nm
6
TFE731-60
2010
Falcon 2000LXS
4,000 nm
6
PW308C
2013
Falcon 2000S
3,350 nm
6
PW308C
2013
A derivative of the popular Falcon 7X, the
8X programme was a surprise announcement
a year ago at the European Business Aviation
Conference and Exhibition (EBACE) in Geneva, Switzerland. The new aircraft is one metre longer, and offers a variety of cabin configurations. But more important is the range
extension, which makes possible flights between city pairs such as London-Hong Kong,
Paris-Singapore, and Los Angeles-Beijing.
“We needed some significant extra range
compared to the 7X to access some important
city pairs with Asia mainly,” Petit explained. Despite the extra metre, the Falcon 8X weighs the
same, without fuel, as the 7X: 41,000 pounds.
Dassault designers were able to reduce the
thickness (by fractions of a millimetre) in some
of the wing panels and ribs, saving about 600
pounds in total. In addition to range, the lower
weight causes the wing shape to flex in flight,
which Petit says also improves performance.
Dassault limited the stretch to one metre so the new 8X would be able to keep the
balanced field length (BFL) capability under
6,000 feet, enabling access to short fields such
as London City.
The 8X tri-jet will be powered by Pratt
& Whitney Canada’s 6,722 pound thrust
PW307D engines.
To a pilot, the 8X should fly almost identical
to the 7X. Petit said the difference in aircraft
64
International | Summer 2015
size has been adjusted for in the control load
and digital flight algorithms. “It will be transparent for the crew.” Dassault hopes regulatory authorities will eventually approve a common type-rating for 7X and 8X pilots.
Feldzer pointed out the Falcon 8X will offer
“roughly the same performance” and “comparable cabin comfort” as other aircraft in the
ultra-long-range category, but with less weight
“which will require 35% less fuel”.
Cabin comfort, of course, is a major selling
feature for transoceanic bizjets, and Dassault
is touting a choice of 30 different configurations, including three different galley sizes
(two with crew-rest option for the three-member crew) and multiple lavatory layouts (including shower).
List price for the Falcon 8X will be about
$58 million, or 10% higher than the 7X.
Deliveries slip, but orders up
Dassault has sold about 250 Falcon 7X aircraft
since its certification eight years ago, though
sales slipped to 27 last year after a peak of 43
in 2013. Deliveries for all Falcon models totaled
66 in 2014 versus 77 the year before. It expects
to deliver about 65 in 2015.
However, the company reported in March
that it now has more orders than deliveries for
the Falcon line for the first time since the 2008
global economic downturn. Orders for new aircraft stood at 90 compared with 64 in 2013.
The “book to bill” ratio, Dassault stated, “benefited in particular from orders for the Falcon
5X and Falcon 8x.”
Dassault’s Little Rock, Arkansas, US completions centre is being expanded by a quarter-million square feet to accommodate the 5X
and 8X when they begin to arrive. Targeted for
2016 completion, the new infrastructure will
cost $60 million.
As part of the flight test programmes, the
third 5X and 8X aircraft prototypes will be
shipped to Little Rock, where they will be fitted with interiors.
Dassault has divided the training systems
between the two dominant simulator manufacturers. CAE was awarded the approved training provider (ATP) designation for the Falcon
5X, and FlightSafety International was selected as ATP for the 8X.
According to the Ascend consultancy, longrange, large-cabin aircraft such as the 5X
and 8X represent 60% of the expected $258
million value in business jets to be delivered
through 2023. Q
Rick Adams is Chief Perspectives Officer of AeroPerspectives, a communications consultancy
based in Geneva, Switzerland and Argèles-sur-mer, France. He is a regular contributor to EVA
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INTERVIEW : CHRIS MOORE
The
Direct route
Interview with Chris Moore, Chief Commercial Officer,
Satcom Direct International
Q: You were at ABACE this April; how did you find the level of interest, given
the slowdown in the Chinese economy?
A: It was a good show from our point of view. The anti-corruption campaign being waged by the government has definitely slowed the market a bit. Jets are seen
as very high profile and many people prefer to keep their heads down while the
investigators are busy. But I have to say that ABACE is now very much becoming an
international show and not just a Chinese show. Interest from the rest of Asia was
very clear and very pleasing. Also, despite the slowdown, the Chinese we spoke to
were universally very positive in their outlook. There are also a lot more operators
popping up in China, providing competition for the established names.
Q:What was your take on the current state of the charter market in China,
which is acknowledged to be difficult?
A: VistaJet was at the show of course, with a Bombardier Global 5000 on display. They also announced at the show that they were on the verge of cementing a
deal with a Chinese aviation company that would enable VistaJet to have a Chinese
AOC. It may well be that the current atmosphere encourages the growth of the
charter market in China as people avoid buying jets but still want the convenience
of flying private. Either way it is still a very exciting market.
Q: What have you done that is new in recent months as far as broadband and
IFE (in-flight entertainment) in the cabin are concerned?
A: The capabilities of the various satellite networks are increasing significantly,
which, of course, plays very well to the services that we can provide. ViaSat is adding more capacity and has announced that Space X will be the launch company for
its second satellite, ViaSat-2, with lift-off scheduled for the Summer of 2016. Mark
Dankberg, ViaSat chairman and CEO, is on record as saying that this new class of
satellite will enable ViaSat to build a network with loads more network capacity at a
66
International | Summer 2015
See Us at EBACE 2015 Booth C035
INTERVIEW : CHRIS MOORE
very attractive price point. It is expected to cover
seven times the geographic area of ViaSat-1.
At the same time, Inmarsat is busy testing
their second Global Xpress (GX) satellite after
a successful launch, and the third and final satellite in their global network is due for launch
in the second quarter of this year. So there is
generally going to be a step change in bandwidth available in the aircraft. Satcom Direct’s
exclusive GlobalVT service for voice and text is
revolutionising connectivity in the cabin by allowing passengers to use their own smartphone,
contacts list, phone number and caller ID to talk
and text during flight anywhere in the world, just
as they would on the ground. The SDR, our smart
router, enables GlobalVT, as well as several other
IFE advantages such as aggregation, which combines multiple Inmarsat SwiftBroadband streaming channels to achieve higher data transfer
rates for real-time communication applications,
such as video streaming and video conferencing. This further enhances business aircraft as a
literal office location with seamless connectivity
that facilitates productivity from taxi to taxi and
everywhere in between.
Q: What of the air to ground (ATG) networks
such as the one run by Gogo in the US and
the terrestrial service that AT&T Europe says it
is going to develop?
A: We announced in October at NBAA that
we were partnering with SmartSky Networks for
their ATG network when it becomes available.
SmartSky’s 4G LTE ATG network has the ability
to provide something of the order of 10 times
the typical bandwidth capacity currently available from 3G ATG networks, when it launches
formally for business aviation customers next
year. The improvement in bandwidth is a natural
follow-on from moving from the current 3G ATG
networks to a new 4G ATG environment. Because
SmartSky’s network is able to operate at different frequencies, expanding the service beyond
the continental USA will be very doable, and we
look forward to seeing what they can do.
We are also very interested in the fact that
Inmarsat has announced that it is going to build
out an ATG network across Europe. They are very
good at building networks, so I have a lot of optimism that we will in fact see an ATG option
across continental Europe in the not too distant
68
International | Summer 2015
Launching a satellite is a
very expensive business
and it is a very impressive
piece of technology, which
takes a great deal of R&D
future. It will not be easy. I would imagine Inmarsat will need a consortium to bring together all
the affected European states. Interestingly, while
other ATG providers simply use 4G ground-based
technology and point it towards the sky to provide services to aircraft, Inmarsat is talking about
adding a satellite link to the loop.
Of course, helping the user in the aircraft to
switch seamlessly from a US ATG system to a European one is something that our Satcom Direct
Router (SDR) is designed to handle. We bring all
the technology into a single box. Our approach is
to take a very network-agnostic view, so that we
are able to switch seamlessly between networks
to maintain the best possible connection for the
user experience. We can combine everything on
offer into a total service that is designed to fit
their objectives.
Q: Satellite-based communications tend to be
pricy. Do you see the cost coming down?
A: Everyone has to be realistic on the cost of
satellite communications. Launching a satellite is
a very expensive business and it is a very impres-
sive piece of technology, which takes a great deal
of R&D. So a satellite network is always going to
be more pricy than a terrestrial network.
Interestingly, I see a solid future continuing
for L-band technology after the introduction of
Ka band networks. There is a big demand from
smaller aircraft for L-band services, plus increasingly we are seeing a demand from rotary aircraft. The private rotary market is growing rapidly
in Asia and when you are moving senior executives around and between neighbouring major
cities, having reliable, secure communications
is very important. Of course, if there is an ATG
network available, that would be preferable. But
I do not see Africa or Latin America getting an
ATG network built out any time soon.
At the same time, many passengers do not
need fast broadband in the air. They simply
want to read a few emails and maybe download a file or two. Others, of course, want ever
more broadband no matter how much you can
give them. So the requirements vary enormously
in the aviation space, and that too will lead to
more innovation. Q
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International 69
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JETCRAFT: MICK DOOHAN
down
under
EVA talks to Jetcraft
partner Mick Doohan
A
The new jets market
in Australia is
particularly difficult.
We are traditionally a
pre-owned market and
while there are some
new jet sales, it is hard
to get a new aircraft
across the line here
70
International | Summer 2015
t the last MEBA Conference, in Dubai in December, Jetcraft announced a
partnership with five time
World 500cc motorcycle
champion, Mick Doohan,
to open a Jetcraft office in Gold Coast, Australia, where Doohan has an FBO. Commenting on the decision, Jetcraft President Chad
Anderson pointed out at the time that Asia
Pacific is expected to grow to approximately
10 percent of the worldwide business aviation
market over the next few years. Over the next
decade, Australia and New Zealand could
represent $5.5 billion of that market, which
would amount to 225 new aircraft over the
period. EVA talked to Doohan in April, to find
out how things are progressing.
“Australia has long been a tough market
as far as business aviation is concerned. With
a population of just 20 million, demand for
private jets is nothing like as large as it is in
Europe or the UK. Some US states are home to
vastly more private jets than you will find in
the whole of Australia. In this region we have
around 120 corporate aircraft and that defines
the current size of the market,” Doohan noted.
Nevertheless, the market is there for those
who are prepared to work at it. There is always
a steady trickle of owners looking to upgrade
to a later model aircraft and their ranks are
swelled by people who, having chartered for
years, have seen their businesses reach the
point where they are ready to buy their own
jet. However, demand is overwhelmingly
skewed towards pre-owned.
“The new jets market in Australia is particularly difficult. We are traditionally a pre-owned
market and while there are some new jet sales,
it is hard to get a new aircraft across the line
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JETCRAFT: MICK DOOHAN
here. Jetcraft have tremendous experience and
reach when it comes to the global pre-owned
market, which makes this a great partnership
for us. The majority of enquiries that we see
here are for large body aircraft, which is natural enough when you consider both how large
and how far away from global markets Australia is,” he comments.
There is a particular demand for the Challenger 604, good pre-owned instances of
which are trading for some $6 million to $9
million (Australian dollars). “That is a tremendous price when you compare it to the alternative, which would be a brand new Challenger
650, which has a list price in the vicinity of
$33 million,” Doohan says. Demand for new
jets tends to focus on the ultra long-range
category represented by Bombardier Globals,
Falcon 7Xs and Gulfstream 650s.
To create and sustain a viable business
aviation operation in Australia you have to be
prepared to diversify. Doohan points out that
his business model works off several steady
revenue streams, which include the FBO fees,
fuel sales, traditional charter work, aircraft
management and medical evacuation, along
with the occasional aircraft sale. “Sales are
traditionally slow in Australia. We are working
hard to get the Jetcraft name and message
known here and we are already seeing some
72
International | Summer 2015
success with that. We expect to be able to
grow the sales division over time,” he notes.
The charter market in Australia is nothing
like as predictable as it is in the US, for example, where some operators can confidently
tell an owner that they can expect to offset
their costs with, say, 400 hours of charter revenues. “What we tell aircraft owners is that
we can generally find them around 15 hours
of charter a month, sometimes 25 hours a
month depending on aircraft type. Our brokerage for charter has been established for
some nine years and has a good reputation.
Australia is such a vast country. It takes five
and a half hours to fly to Perth from Gold
Coast and even the shortest links, airport to
airport, are more than an hour’s flight. So it
does not take that long to build up the hours,
even with the smaller base of charter users
that we have in Australia,” he comments.
The light jet market in Australia was hammered by the Great Recession of 2008, but
there is now a resurgence of interest. Doohan
reckons that he is talking to several people
who are interested in either a CJ2 or a CJ3.
“We would get quite a bit of demand on the
charter side for a light jet, just running up and
down the east coast, so we could probably surpass 25 hours a month with a light jet under
management,” he comments. Q
What we tell aircraft
owners is that we can
generally find them
around 15 hours of charter
a month, sometimes 25
hours a month depending
on aircraft type
FEATURE: PAINT
Spring 2015 |
International
73
FEATURE: AFRIC AN OPEN SKY
African Open Sky:
The continued growth
F
or the seventh year running, the
trip support group, African Open
Sky (AOS) has been able to report
above average growth. With the
overall volume of business aviation flights up some 30% across
Africa as a whole, AOS has seen business flight
traffic increase by some 45%.
This strong growth has inspired the Cote
d’Ivoire-based private company to expand its
network across Africa. In February and March
2015 AOS opened offices in Djibouti, Tanzania
and Burundi.
Formed in 2009, AOS now has some 18 offices in the following countries: Benin, Burkina
Faso, Cameroon, Congo, Democratic Republic of
Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Guinea Bissau, Guinea
Conakry, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sao Tome, Togo and the United Arab
Emirates. This last was especially opened in order to assist AOS’s growing Middle Eastern client
base. Including representatives as well as wholly
owned offices, AOS now has representatives in
some 30 different locations across the Continent.
Commenting on this, AOS founder Max O. Cisse
pointed out that the trip support company now
has more directly owned offices in Africa than its
competitors based outside of Africa.
74
International | Summer 2015
Cisse was awarded the Aviation Business
Personality of the year 2014 – Africa, by European-Chase Publishing. He points out that one
of the keys to the success that AOS has enjoyed
is that its offices are fully established as locally
registered businesses, and are approved by national civil aviation and airport authorities to
coordinate flight operations in the respective jurisdictions. “This certification is very important.
It is insisted upon by local authorities, who consider flight support companies, effectively, to be
the same as the aircraft operators themselves
as far as legal accountability for flights is concerned,” Cisse comments.
He adds: “Since the legal consequences of
breaching these regulations can be quite severe,
it is vital for operators to be able to draw on
the expert assistance and support of a legally
established local trip support company. Clients
who need short-notice permits, for example, or
who have other requirements and want an AOS
supervisor, find us very easy to deal with. We are
able to arrange and pay all requested charges
on behalf of a crew even in countries known to
be complicated.”
The main activity of AOS is rendering
flight support services to governmental, commercial, corporate and private operators. The
company manages its own handling supervisors network in each individual African country and can assist customers with short notice
permits as well as technical, passenger or cargo ground-handling services. It provides full
transportation, hotel accommodation, catering, refuelling, maintenance, aircraft security,
flight planning, computerizing ATC, weatherNOTAMs and all other services in connection
to handling activities. “We provide all this at
unbeatable prices and without a third party
commission,” Cisse concludes. Q
We are able to arrange
and pay all requested
charges on behalf of a
crew even in countries
known to be complicated
Max O Cisse
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MACRO ECONOMIC WINDOW
L
ow oil prices are both a blessing and
something of an inhibitor for the
business aviation sector. With fuel
making up such a heavy percentage
of the hourly cost of a charter flight,
cheap fuel is a boon to operators,
allowing them to price very attractively in an
attempt to boost charter flight movements
and ultimately to increase revenues. Owners
are also likely to make more use of their own
jets for both business and leisure. All of that is
good for the industry as a whole.
However, on the down side, low oil prices
remove one of the major pressures on owners
to upgrade to modern, fuel efficient aircraft.
Anything that adversely impacts aircraft sales
threatens the life blood of the sector. Strong
Marko Papic,
Chief Strategist
and geopolitical
expert, BCA
sales are hugely important to everyone in the
sector, not just to airframe and engine OEMs.
Money cascades down through all the niche
businesses in the sector when sales of new and
pre-owned aircraft are booming.
Of course, the very word, “booming”, has
a distinctly odd and fairytale ring to it after
the years of no-to-low growth since the 2008
crash. And for the last few years it has seemed
as if every time things started to improve,
some unlooked for geopolitical event would
come along and knock the confidence out of
markets and businesses alike. However, could
it be that the slow improvement we’ve seen to
date in developed markets is finally about to
strengthen significantly? Marko Papic, Chief
Strategist and geopolitical expert at BCA Re-
Summer 2015 |
International
77
MACRO ECONOMIC WINDOW
search, believes one can be reasonably confident that despite the Ukraine struggle, Jihadist threats, ISIS in the Middle East and the
slowdown in China, the answer is “Yes”. There
won’t be any sudden, massive steepening of
the growth curve, but he expects solid and
continuous improvement in advanced markets
that is strong enough to keep on trucking in
the face of most of the likely headwinds. There
are still some severe negatives about, but the
chances are that, with one exception which
we will come on to, none of the visible threats
have sufficient strength to derail the positives,
he argues.
Papic accepts that a low oil price is not an
unalloyed good for business aviation, but he
argues that the fact that cheap fuel for motor
vehicles puts money back in the pockets of the
American consumer, will, in the medium term,
far outweigh any negatives. Similarly, while
many economists argue that the continuing
strengthening of the US dollar will hurt US
corporate earnings and cause a significant correction in the markets, Papic notes that some
60% of US corporate earnings are domestic
and will ultimately benefit from increased consumer spending.
He points out that there is no historical correlation between the strength of the US dollar
and the fate of US equity prices. “In the 90s we
had a decade where the dollar strengthened
continuously and at the same time the US equity markets went on a decade-long bull run,”
he notes.
What then of Europe with the continuing
furore over the Greek government’s battle with
the “Troika” (the International Monetary Fund,
the European Central Bank and the EU) to reduce its debt load? Papic points out that European stock markets have already discounted a
disorderly Greek exit. “Basically, the market assumes that contagion risks from Greece exiting
the euro area would be contained. If you look
back to May 2012, that election in Greece sent
a chill through the markets and resulted in an
11% correction in the S&P 500. Today, however, the market barely reacts to much more
dramatic moves from Greece. SYRIZA actually
won the May 2012 election but could not put
together enough seats. This year we have a
much more successful SYRIZA making direct
threats in its negotiations with the Troika, providing multiple reasons for the markets to react, but they have barely moved. The market is
pricing-in the fact that the euro would survive
the exit of Greece,” he says.
If Europe’s economies continue to strengthen visibly at the same time as the US economy
continues its uptick, it will give a very significant boost to business aviation. In Papic’s
Low oil prices remove one of the major pressures
on owners to upgrade to modern, fuel efficient
aircraft. Anything that adversely impacts aircraft
sales threatens the life blood of the sector
78
International | Summer 2015
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MACRO ECONOMIC WINDOW
The Charlie Hebdo terrorist attacks,
which should have played to Le Pen’s
advantage, with the FN’s anti immigration
stance, did not boost her popularity
view, this looks like a very likely scenario for
next few years. He also has few fears about
Europe being destabilised politically by the
rise of extremist political parties as a reaction
to the seven years of austerity that followed
the 2008 financial crash. Papic points to the
recent elections in Andalusia as a real bellweather election demonstrating the stability
of the current status quo in European states.
Andalusia is perhaps the poorest region
of Spain, with average earnings per head of
only 16,666 euros, 25.4% below the Spanish
average, and an unemployment rate of 36.4%.
These sound like ripe conditions for extremist
left or right parties to sweep to regional power,
but it didn’t happen. Similarly, in France FN
right wing leader Marine Le Pen can’t seem
able to push beyond the 30% support she has
enjoyed since 2011. Even the Charlie Hebdo
terrorist attacks, which should have played to
Le Pen’s advantage, with the FN’s anti immigration stance, did not boost her popularity.
“Everyone who was going to support Marine Le Pen in France already supports her. This
is bad news for the extreme right as Le Pen
is no closer to winning the second round of a
presidential election in France now than she
was in 2012. All of this plays towards a stable European Union and puts a real lid on the
80
International | Summer 2015
Marine Le Pen
Frederic Legrand - COMEO / Shutterstock.com
potential for instability - which is good news
for economic growth and business climate,” he
comments.
Another significant threat to global growth
is the slowdown in China allied to the chilling
effects of the anti corruption campaign being
conducted by the Chinese government. The
fear is that this will depress Chinese GDP below
6%, causing serious distress in commodity exporting nations like Brazil and Australia. However, Papic argues that any impact the anti corruption campaign is going to have on Chinese
GDP is already priced in. “It is all about the
2nd derivative, namely not just whether GDP
is going up or down, but the pace of change.
Is the anti corruption campaign speeding up or
slowing down? In my view the “hottest” phase
is now in the past and the government has
probably caught all the big fish it wanted to
make an example of,” he notes.
He adds that there are also clear signs that
the Chinese government plans to introduce
a sufficient stimulus package to keep growth
at or near 7%. “The fact that the government
committed recently to grow the economy at
just under 7%, despite the fact that the anti
corruption campaign has probably already
knocked it back to 6% or under, means that it
intends to fulfil its promise through a stimulus
programme. So I am not particularly pessimistic about China,” he notes.
There are other positive factors in the
Chinese economy. “For 2015 the government
expects to see 10 million new jobs. This is unchanged from last year’s target but is lower
than the 13 million jobs that the Chinese actually created in 2014. The government has said
that it expects registered urban unemployment
to edge higher, to 4.5% from the 4.1% recorded in 2014,” he notes.
A key point, however, Papic says, is that
there are clear signs that the Chinese government is preparing for a much bigger fiscal
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MACRO ECONOMIC WINDOW
Now that the US dollar
has strengthened, and
the Fed is expected to
start hiking rates, many
in the EM corporate
space will struggle to
cope with repayments
82
International | Summer 2015
push to support its slowing economy, than it
is acknowledging publicly. The “fiscal thrust”
to the economy budgeted for in 2015 amounts
to 0.9% of GDP. Almost 1% of the GDP of the
2nd biggest economy in the world is a staggering sum of money, and is the most intense
stimulus the Chinese government has administered to the economy since the global financial crisis. “In short, China’s top leadership is
planning a bigger fiscal push on the economy
and has given clear signs that it expects local
authorities to strictly adhere to the spending
plan,” Papic says.
The main focus on fiscal measures is for
funding for infrastructure investment, especially railway construction, hydro and rural irrigation projects and urban shantytown reconstruction. Social welfare programs in China are
also getting a boost, with the basic pension
for retirees being raised by 10%. “If executed
as planned, the government sector may add almost a full percentage point to GDP growth in
2015, which will be a critical support helping
to check downside risks to growth,” Papic says.
On the downside as far as the global economy is concerned, a threat that could actually
derail global growth to a significant extent is
the gathering weakness in emerging economies. “Part of the problem with emerging
economies is that they took on huge amounts
of dollar debt in their private sectors when liquidity was plentiful. Now that the US dollar
has strengthened, and the Fed is expected to
start hiking rates, many in the EM corporate
space will struggle to cope with repayments.
Worse, what they did with those cheap loans
was largely wasteful. Very little went towards
generating real productivity improvements, so
this has left them very exposed,” Papic says.
On the plus side for business aviation, Papic
points out that QE in the US inflated financial
assets and that really played well for high net
worth individuals. He expects QE in the euro
zone to have a very similar impact. If it leads
to the making of more millionaires and multimillionaires across Europe, that should filter
through to more charter flights at the very
least, and to more sales of new and pre-owned
aircraft, which all of us would love to see!
Returning to the theme of Europe’s seemingly never ending struggle with low-to-no
growth Papic points out that there has been a
very impressive appreciation in Euro area equities in recent months, led mainly by Germany.
MACRO ECONOMIC WINDOW
“While this means that European equities are
no longer cheap, in my view there is still good
value to be found in Mediterranean Europe,
which has lagged other European markets.
Spain, Portugal and even Italy has lagged the
appreciation in euro area stocks generally.
Even German stocks considerably underperformed the run up in US stocks through 2014,
so there too there is room for further strengthening,” he says.
All this could well help Europe’s struggling
economies to move forward. “I think we are
seeing a really interesting scenario for Europe.
We have low prices, thanks to near zero inflation, low-to-negative interest rates, a low price
of oil (which makes for lower energy costs for
European companies) and credit being made
available to businesses and consumers to a
greater degree. All of this makes for a very
positive scenario that has more room to run
this year,” he concludes. Q
Summer 2015 |
International
83
Q&A: AL AN KL APMEIER
Hatching the new
Kestrel
Bringing a new turbo-prop to
market, by Anthony Harrington
Alan Klapmeier, CEO, ONE Aviation
84
International | Summer 2015
A
lan Klapmeier was the founder of Cirrus Design, a manufacturer of high
performance, single engine piston aircraft, which opened its doors in 1984.
Klapmeier left the company in 2009, in a board dispute. At the time of his
departure, Cirrus, which had successfully brought two turbo-prop aircraft,
the Cirrus SR20 and SR22 to market, was in the process of designing its
first light jet, the Cirrus SF50 single engine jet. During his time at Cirrus,
Klapmeier won considerable recognition throughout the industry for a number of innovations, including the use of composite materials, which before this had been almost solely the
preserve of aircraft kit manufacturers. It is not too extreme to say that this use of composites
revolutionised the general aviation sector and is now generally used by manufacturers from
Honda to Bombardier. He was Chairman of the General Aviation Manufacturing Association
(GAMA) Board of Directors in 2008 and was on the board of the AOPA Air Safety Foundation
Board of Visitors, and the Board of Directors of the Small Aircraft Maufacturers Association.
In 2009 Klapmeier began talks with Farnborough Aircraft Company, with a view to partnering in the design of a new single engine turbo prop aircraft, the Kestrel.
On 15 April 2015, after Kestrel had struggled for funding through much of 2013 and
2014, Eclipse and Kestrel announced that they were merging to form a new, combined company, called ONE Aviation. The new company has two core products, the Eclipse 550 twinengine light Jet and the Kestrel K350 single-engine turboprop, which continues to move
towards certification - with no date as yet being announced. Klapmeier becomes the CEO
of the new company while the former Eclipse CEO, Mason Holland, takes up a new role as
chairman of the merged entity.
Q&A: AL AN KL APMEIER
Q: It is an obvious question, but why, when
you left Cirrus after working on the design
of the Cirrus jet, did you opt to throw in your
lot with Richard Noble’s Kestrel turbo-prop?
A: The natural beginning to the whole Kestrel project goes back to my interest in aviation
and my background in physics and economics.
I have always been fascinated by trying to
figure out where a passion for aviation lines
up with a good business case. When you start
with that background, i.e. combining a love of
aviation with a real grasp of business, it gives
you a certain way of looking at the aircraft industry, and a particular perspective. There is
no shortage of people who will tell you that
the aviation sector is not a good business to be
in but I believe very firmly that aviation, particularly personal transportation aircraft, brings
a range of benefits to owner pilots and small
operators. When you combine the obvious ben-
efit which flows from being able to fly to vastly
more airfields than anything that a scheduled
airline can provide, along with the sheer delight of flying, there is clearly going to be market demand for private aircraft. However, you
have to be clear about your entry point in the
market and about what constitutes the right
value equation for the business model you
have in mind. After Cirrus, we wanted a project that offered great value and that would
address a generally small, more stable, mixed
market that would also be a safer market than
Cirrus had addressed. Post 2008 the market
for light jets has not been good, while the market for turbo-props has held up very well.
Another very good point in favour of the
turbo prop was that it gave us some important
advantages and differentiation points. Most
important of these, probably, is the shorter
runway requirements. If you are talking about
STOL capabilities then there really is not a lot
of great choices in light jets, whereas the Kestrel is very good at short take off and landing.
Operating costs between light jets and turboprops are harder to draw direct comparisions,
but if you look at the regional airlines running
turbo prop versus jets, the turbo prop is noticeably less expensive to run, and that includes
everything from fuel costs to engine maintenance. Two engines on a jet just do cost more
to maintain than a single engine turbo-prop.
Q: So the business logic pointed to turboprops. Why Kestrel?
A: When we started talking to Kestrel it
was a project that had already made significant progress, so we were not starting from
scratch. A good deal of very good work had
already been done on the airplane and that
was attractive. So we took that and looked to
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ATSD - Air Tasking Service Dortmund GmbH
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Summer 2015 |
International
85
Q&A: AL AN KL APMEIER
see where we could improve it. We found a variety of improvements, including redesigning
the cabin to provide a lot more visibility and
improving the handling.
Q: Have you started taking deposits yet?
A: With Cirrus in its early stages we said
there is no price, no delivery date and no
specifications as yet, but you can put down a
deposit if you want to. And people did. With
the Kestrel we have taken the opposite view,
partially because the economic landscape
has changed fundamentally so the kind of
stance we took with Cirrus would be unrealistic in today’s tough market. We’re now saying there is no agreed price yet, no delivery
date either and no, you can’t put down a
deposit yet.
As of today we still do not have any fixed
date for delivery of the first production
Kestrel. However, three years is probably a
plausible sort of number for that event. The
prototype has been flying since 2006 and
we are well advanced in our planning. The
constraining factor, always, is capital. The
more capital you can get, the bigger the
team you can put to work on the design and
construction issues.
Q: At the end of July 2013, at EAA’s
AirVenture 2013, Kestrel signed a partnering
deal with Garmin to make the Garmin 3000
the launch avionics platform for the aircraft.
Can you tell us a bit about that?
A: As you know, the Garmin G3000 was
the first touchscreen-controlled integrated
flight deck for light turbine aircraft. We’re
working with Garmin to offer the full G3000
feature set in the Kestrel as well as integrating additional systems on the Kestrel into the
G3000’s control and display capabilities to
create the most integrated cockpit in its class.
I have a passion for avionics. It’s the critical
aspect for the pilot-vehicle interface and goes
directly to how it feels to fly the Kestrel. The
G3000’s wide aspect ratio screen provides
great real estate for a very user-friendly interface with the pilot.
Q: Funding is always crucial in a venture like
this. How has it been and are you confident
that you will secure enough backing to see
you through to production?
A: We have been fortunate in being able
to find investors who recognise that this is a
multi year venture with production still probably three years or so down the line. The significant problem in the global economy is that
for many sources of capital investors are thinking very short term and are looking to flip in
86
International | Summer 2015
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Q&A: AL AN KL APMEIER
and out of deals. We are not going to convince
those kinds of investors with a proposition like
this. Private equity always wants to know what
the exit strategy is for them in any venture, so
we have thought a lot about the mechanisms
that are required to make it easier for people to
invest and to look to an exit within what they
and we regard as a reasonable time frame. Private investors always have the Holy Grail of
capital appreciation and income in mind and
we have an excellent case to put to them. This
is very familiar territory for me since we went
through an intensive fund raising for Cirrus.
It is never easy. If it was, everyone would be
doing it, but I am confident we can pull the
financing together to see the project through
to the point where it is being carried by its
own revenue generating capabilities. There is
a strong market demand for quality single engine turboprop aircraft and the Kestrel is being
designed to be the best in class.
Q: You chose the Honeywell TPE331-14GR
as the power plant for the aircraft. Why?
A: We went through a very vigorous process
to find the right engine to power the aircraft
88
International | Summer 2015
through the development phase. Our mission
is to combine high speed cruising capabilities
with long range and the ability to carry heavy
payloads in and out of short runways - and on
top of that we wanted a very cost effective engine with very competitive, low maintenance
costs. The Honeywell -14GR is ideally suited to
these requirements. It produces 1759 thermodynamic horsepower which we are flat rating
to 1000 shaft horsepower to allow for better
high altitude, high temperature performance.
It was also important to us that Honeywell is
highly committed to the success of the Kestrel
program. We are very happy to have their support, knowledge and expertise on board.” Q
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