Corporate Flight Management expands maintenance operations

Monday, April 7, 2008 at 2:38am

Corporate Flight Management has expanded its aircraft maintenance operations at Smyrna Airport.

The company took over hangars formerly occupied by RegionsAir, which closed operations following a second grounding by the Federal Aviation Administration.

Corporate Flight said the new space gives the company 80 percent more space for aircraft and flight services as well as more room to pursue other ventures. Previously, the company had been wedged into smaller World War II-era hangars.

The company’s growth coincides with the Smyrna/Rutherford County Airport Authority’s development of a 400-acre business park.

“This expansion complements the development of the Airport Business Park at Smyrna Airport by attracting more business to the area,” said John Black, the airport authority’s executive director.

Corporate Flight’s maintenance business has doubled over the past five years and more space was needed. The business has expanded work to include foreign airlines.

One of the company’s current ventures involves recruiting investors to purchase British Aerospace Jetstream turboprop aircraft for refurbishment. They are then sold to small commuter airlines. Additionally, the Corporate Flight converts the aircraft for use as private or corporate aircraft.

Last year, the company placed two BAE aircraft with a small Australian commuter airline and converted another into an executive plane for a private user.

Corporate Flight’s experience with the BAE aircraft stems from its contract for managing all the aircraft maker’s turboprop planes in the United States.

“Right now, we have one from Australia, two from Venezuela, two from Colombia, one Haiti,” said Leon Custers, the company’s vice president for maintenance.

Custers said the planes have come out of service in the United States and in some cases were retired and stored away. In many cases, the planes are mid-1990s vintage aircraft.

“These airplanes have a lot of life in them,” he said. “Ever since the fuel crunch has hit, these turboprops have seen a revival, not just in foreign countries but in the U.S. as well.”

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