Airport revamp prompts Flying Colours to think big

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Canadian completions and conversions specialist Flying Colours is working on the design of a new facility capable of accommodating widebody aircraft, as a project to expand the airport it's based at nears conclusion.

The federal and provincial governments have invested Canadian dollar 28 million ($28.3 million) in developing Peterborough airport, Ontario, from a municipal facility to a regional one.

Completion of the upgrade - expected by mid-October - opens new possibilities for Flying Colours. "That was the key driving force in us considering further expansion here," said Eric Gillespie, director of completions sales and management. "We have aspirations to get into widebody airplanes."

Flying Colours' services have hitherto been specialised in Bombardier, Gulfstream, Dassault and Hawker Beechcraft business jets, with Bombardier's Global models sitting at the upper end of its size range.

Its core products include VIP conversions of used Bombardier CRJ regional jets, under the "ExecLiner" brand name, and interior fitting of factory-fresh Bombardier Challenger 850 aircraft, as a preferred completions centre of the Canadian airframer.

Flying Colours delivered the first of five Challenger 850s earmarked for Chinese customers late last year, and has labelled the type "an ideal aircraft for China".

Now, the family-run business is drawing up plans for a new facility that would be roughly three times the size of its existing one at Peterborough, and capable of handling aircraft of the Boeing Business Jet's size.

Gillespie specifies the timeframe for the project as "mid- to late 2012, into 2013".

He also confirmed that Flying Colours has had requests to work on widebodies.

"There is demand for this," he said. "We've talked to different people but we don't have any contracts in place until we firm up this expansion."

Flying Colours employs about 180 people in Peterborough and 120 at its US maintenance subsidiary JetCorp, based in St Louis.