Volume 16 | Issue 5 | Year 2013

When it comes to aviation MRO, Flightstar Aircraft Services LLC has forged a collaborative partnership with its clients. The continuously improving company enjoys long-term relationships with aviation industry leaders who equate the Flightstar name with the highest levels of reliability and safety.
“Our customer-focused orientation has made us a leading global supplier when it comes to outsourced maintenance, repair, and modifications,” says Tim Bergin, the company’s vice president of business development. He knows whereof he speaks. Bergin has worked in aviation since 1972. He spent four years maintaining A4 aircraft for the United States Marine Corps. Since then, he has held positions with Eastern Air Lines, McDonnell Douglas, Airbus Industries, debis AirFinance and AerCap. His background includes product support, technical services, marketing, sales and asset management.

Founded in 2000, the Jacksonville, Fla.-based Flightstar consistently offers creative solutions to clients’ problems. No conundrum is too complex.

During its existence – admittedly short but hallmarked by significant achievements – the company has helped customers realize greater efficiency via a lowering of the recurring maintenance costs and the maximization of ROI related to repair.

Based at the Cecil Field Commerce Center, Flightstar Aircraft Services LLC is a leading provider of heavy maintenance and inspection services and modification services for narrow body air transport category aircraft. Services include all levels of scheduled maintenance – from A checks to heavy depot level maintenance, as well as passenger to freighter conversions and modifications.

From its Cecil Airport home base, Flightstar boasts substantial capabilities: For instance, provision of service that covers 10 heavy maintenance lines throughout two adjacent hangers (the hangar complex measures a combined 335,000 square feet).

Investment
That’s remarkable footage, and Flightstar isn’t done yet. The company is currently expanding Cecil Airport operations to the tune of $30.5 million dollars (assisted by a Florida Department of Transportation [FDOT] infrastructure development grant, awarded by the Jacksonville Aviation Authority).

Dollars are directed toward construction of the 113,000-square-foot hangar, additional office space, and improvements to taxiways, aprons and related transportation infrastructure. Improvements will allow Flightstar to remain in a comfort zone where it has performed so well.

In addition to the new hanger, the investment will add 32,000 square feet of warehousing and shop space – as well as additional office space.

The grant supplements FDOT’s previous commitment of $10 million in Strategic Intermodal System funding. The remaining $17 million is provided by Flightstar and the Jacksonville Aviation Authority. All of these enthusiastically spent dollars result in the $30.5 million figure.

More Jobs Created
But the ambitious Flightstar Aircraft Services isn’t content to remain in a comfort zone. While the company intends to remain at Cecil Airport – where it will enjoy its grant bounty – it always looks to expand its MRO activities and capabilities. This translates into new work that will, no doubt, benefit the surrounding community. Operation of the new hanger space will mean 300 permanent jobs and new work for at least a hundred contractors, the company reports.

For sure, such targeted investments promote local economic growth, agrees Rick Scott, Florida’s governor, adding that he applauds FDOT’s commitment to economic development. Further, FDOT’s response – as expressed by its secretary Ananth Prasad – demonstrates appreciation of the fact that MRO is a targeted industry that bolsters economic development. The combining of forces – Flightstar and FDOT – means that Flightstar Aircraft Services will expand workforce. “The decision to remain in Florida positively impacts all involved,” observes Bergin.

Well Vetted
The local government does well to court this thriving company. Since its establishment in 2000, Flightstar has garnered numerous validations and certifications. These include:

  • FAA Part 145 repair station with Class IV rating;
  • Certification: Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC);
  • Certification: European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA): and
  • Certification: Agencia Nacional de Aviacao Civil (ANAC)-Brazil.

In addition, Flightstar is certified by Bolivia, Columbia, Mexico, Panama and Venezuela.

Flightstar performs a comprehensive suite of services including:

  • Major maintenance inspections;
  • Aircraft modifications and upgrades;
  • Interior refurbishment and reconfiguration;
  • Passenger-to-freighter conversion; and
  • Engineering service and support.

Flightstar’s core competencies include critical repair, recurring maintenance, and modification services. Its comprehensive service suite supports operators of heavy commercial aircraft, and the company boasts full tooling capabilities for the Boeing aircraft family, including: CRJ, B717, B727, B737, B757, B767, DC9 and MD-80/90.

Such activity reflects Flightstar’s combination of flexibility and creativity when it comes to customer assistance and care.

Maintenance and Modifications
The comprehensive menu of maintenance services include:

  • A, B, C and D checks;
  • Calendar inspections;
  • Structural significant inspections;
  • Strut improvement programs;
  • Drop-in maintenance;
  • Line maintenance;
  • Major and minor structural repairs;
  • Engine changes;
  • QEC changes, and
  • Landing gear changes.

The company also boasts onsite capabilities for support in:

  • Battery refurbishment;
  • Sheet metal fabrication;
  • Limited composite repairs;
  • NDT and eddy current inspections; and
  • Welding.

The company’s modifications services include:

  • Avionics modifications;
  • GPS, TCAS, windshear, cockpit standardizations, FDR upgrades, HUD installations, cockpit surveillance, Wi-Fi, IFE, etc.;
  • Fire/smoke detection and suppression systems;
  • Structural modifications and upgrades;
  • Winglet installations;
  • Passenger-to-freighter conversions (B737 & B757);
  • Wash, strip and paint capabilities;
  • Fuel tank repairs; and
  • Interior reconfigurations.

Further, Flightstar offers full aircraft stripping and painting performed in a climate-controlled, 35,000-square-foot coating bay capable of housing a B767-300. The dedicated paint bay is operated in partnership with Associated Painters Inc.

Hangar Complex
Flightstar’s adjacent hangars comprise 335,000-plus square feet with more than 1,000,000 square feet of ramp space. The hangar complex includes:

  • Hangar 815: Approximately 230,000 square feet configured into three wide body bays that can accommodate nine narrow-body aircraft (737, 727, or MD-80), six B757s, or three B767s;
  • Hangar 905: Approximately 125,000 square feet configured for two maintenance bays and one dedicated, state-of-the-art coatings bay;
  • Hangar 935: an expanding bay facility adjacent to Hangar 905.

13 Years and Growing
Flightstar Aircraft Services celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2010. Established at the Jacksonville International Airport, and later moving to the Cecil Commerce Center in Jacksonville, the company is ever expanding to accommodate growing demand within its industry and, in turn, for its capabilities.

It’s a stable organization operating in a highly competitive – and even a sometimes unstable – marketplace that is supported by (and supports) its local community. It employs a local workforce, and it works with regional academic institutions (such as Florida State College at Jacksonville and Embry Riddle Aeronautical University) to provide a training ground for new talent.

In this way, it will keep itself airborne.