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PATS Aircraft boosting BBJ, CRJ and Embraer 190 conversions for booming VIP market

PATS Aircraft < pats="">is rapidly ramping up the pace of its in-house completions from an average of three Boeing Business Jets a year to as many as 10 BBJs, Bombardier CRJ Executives and Embraer Lineage 1000s by next year and to more than a dozen in 2009 to keep up with soaring demand for the VIP airliner-to-business jet conversions. The first Lineage 1000, a VIP version of the Embraer 190, is set to arrive in early November for its interior.

The Georgetown, Delaware-based subsidiary of Ohio-based DeCrane Aerospace Systems has been installing interiors and auxiliary fuel tanks in BBJs since 2000 and has completed nine aircraft to date. A BBJ typically holds 11,400 litres (3,000US gal) of additional fuel in six 1,900 litre Pats-made composite tanks installed on rails in the belly of the aircraft. A BBJ completion typically takes between nine and 12 months, says Anderson.

Highlighting the growing backlog of new work in an expanded portfolio at the company are five CRJ200s awaiting completions at the facility. The aircraft, owned by Redmond, Washington-based Tailwind Capital, were previously in service with Delta Air Lines regional subsidiary, Comair, and the now-defunct Independence Air.

The $19.9 million VIP version of the aircraft, dubbed the "CRJ200 Executive Jet" at the request of Bombardier, will offer three standard interior options seating between 14 and 16 passengers. Two Pats-made 1,140 litre auxiliary fuel tanks mounted in the aft section of the cabin will provide an additional 740 to 1,110km (400 to 600nm) range, giving the aircraft a 5,370-5,740km range.

Pats is also bidding on a separate CRJ200 project that would involve converting 20 CRJ200s over a five-year period into what Ontario-based aviation management firm Aerospace Concepts is calling "Phoenix Business Jets," with interiors similar to those of the CRJ200 Executive Jet. On average, Anderson says he gets one call a week from someone interested in having a CRJ converted to a corporate jet.

The Embraer contract calls for Pats to complete 35 Lineage interiors over a 10-year period, increasing throughput from four aircraft a year initially to eight a year by 2010. The contract also calls for Pats to reduce completions turn time to five to six months by the fourth aircraft, a requirement that has driven Pats to offer modular designs with up-front engineering.

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