Completing the picture

London
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The lure of the biggest market for large business jet completions has attracted a large number of North American interiors specialists to MEBA. Although the domestic market for their output has shrunk dramatically, the USA and Canada remain the heartland of the refurbishment sector - an industry that has yet to emerge in the Middle East.

They include for the first time Jet Works Air Center of Denton, near Dallas-Forth Worth airport. The privately owned company - which came together in its present form five years ago - says demand from the Middle East for airliner-size business jet conversions is driving its business.

"It really is our strongest market at the moment," says marketing director Barry Smith. "In the US market, a lot of refurbishments are being postponed."

Jet Works, which employs 140 people, has refurbished four Boeing Business Jets this year, three of them for Middle Eastern customers and one for Asia. Its latest project, also for a client from that region, is to convert a Boeing MD-87 from airliner to a 24-seat VIP configuration with "contemporary cabin and state-of-the-art in-flight entertainment system".

Although the company has the contract to outfit factory-fresh Piaggio P180 Avantis for the US market, in the large cabin segment all its projects have been refurbishments of used aircraft. However, it is bidding to complete a new BBJ, what would be its first "green" big jet, says Smith.

High-end IFE and communications technology is also a major focus for Jet Works. "A lot of the stuff we are doing now is adding wi-fi. People tell us they want to be on the internet, talk to their people. They want a flying office," says Smith. "The technology is finally there now to let you deliver on what you promise."

Smith says it made sense to exhibit at MEBA for the first time because "we already had six meetings scheduled and we wanted somewhere to have these".

The company's sister business, Business Air International, a dealer in business jets, will also be at the show with an Embraer Legacy 650 on static display that it is marketing for a client.

About half Jet Works' business is traditional maintenance on Bombardier Challenger and Learjet, Cessna Citation and Gulfstream jets, a business that retains its US customer base. It also carries out refurbishments on US military aircraft.

The company recently recruited completions sector veteran Marc Johnson as its director of sales for large cabin completions.