EBACE: Project Phoenix to launch Boeing 737 variant

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Project Phoenix is planning to extend its business model for branded personalised conversions of Bombardier CJ200 regional jets by adding Boeing 737s and competing with Boeing Business Jets.

The Dubai and Montreal-based specialist is expecting the first flight of the Phoenix CRJ in Toronto next week, with delivery to its launch customer in Macao early in June.

But while the sales team will be showing other potential Phoenix CRJ customers the finished article before it heads across to the South China Sea, the company's founder and president Mike Cappuccitti is looking to the future.

"What we have done with the CRJ is taken a very good airplane and made it even better," Cappuccitti says. "It took us a lot longer than we planned to deliver the first aircraft due to changes in the STC for the tanks on the conversion. But we are now looking at other possibilities.

"The Boeing 737-300 and 737-500 are ideal vehicles. There are plenty of them around and provided we can get the STCs sorted out, we believe there will be demand for the quality that we are delivering on the Phoenix CJ200."

The Project Phoenix team are at EBACE in force with chairman Kevin Hoffman, who as the head of ACL has experience of hundreds of aircraft designs,including the Bombardier Global Express. The team includessenior adviser John Lawson, who for many years was the face of Bombardier Aerospace and headed the company's launch of the Global Express and the Challenger SEandrecently appointed vice-presidentof sales Mike Creed.

"There is a lot of interest in what we are doing," says Cappuccitti. "This is very different from other conversion projects. We are building a brand. We don't buy the used aircraft on spec, we do it when we know what the customer needs. When we get the aircraft the engines are sent back for a complete overhaul, we take out the gear and send that back and then we work on the interior. The interior design and finish is of a different quality. It will only be a Phoenix if it meets that quality standard.

"We have the approach of an OEM. We stick with the customer after the sale. We have power-by-the-hour with Lufthansa Technik-supported eJet programme; we give the Medaire training for crew and have special rates with CAE. The real difference is quality and our CRJs are more akin to a Global than a Challenger."

Operating from Montreal and Dubai is giving the Project Phoenix team a global reach. The current downturn has led to more interest, but Cappuccitti says the underlying business model of getting an aircraft delivered in 12 months isstill attractive.

"That's why we think we can succeed with other models,"he says. "The 737 is an ideal platform and we are also looking at the BAe146. The Phoenix rebirth of great airplanes is certainly drawing attention in the Middle East and Asia in particular."