Airliner conversions are providing charter operators with an alternative to paying high prices for new aircraft with increasingly long lead times. The trend was highlighted at the Dubai Airshow when Karthik Narayan, chairman Asia and Middle East for Kanyan Capital, signed letters of intent for two CRJ-Phoenix regional airliner conversions. He signed on behalf of Opus Capital, a Dubai-based private equity company, with Project Phoenix president Mike Cappuccitti.
Opus Capital will acquire two CRJs, one of which will be operated for charter out of Dubai. Deliveries will be in September 2008 and November 2008 and both aircraft will be operated by ExecuJet Middle East.
Cappuccitti says: "The CRJ-Phoenix is designed to address two significant challenges facing the business aviation sector today - rising prices and increasingly long lead times. The programme was conceived with the assistance and support of several former senior Bombardier executives. It offers buyers of large executive aircraft a viable and cost-effective alternative to new business aircraft models in the 2,200 to 3,000 n.m. range." New customers of this class of aircraft are having to wait for up to five years for a delivery slot, Cappuccitti adds.
Project Phoenix and its partner Aerospace Concepts Ltd pledges to retrofit a CRJ-200, fitting long range fuel tanks if required, within eight months. Maintenance work will be carried out exclusively by authorised Bombardier service centres. Primary interiors provider will be Flying Colours of Peterborough, Ontario. "The cost per unit will be ballpark $17.9 million for a baseline specification aircraft," says Cappuccitti.
The CRJ-Phoenix will have a maximum range, with long-range tanks fitted, in excess of 3,000 n.m. Cappuccitti says direct and fixed operating costs should be "very similar to other executive jets in this class while the total hourly costs will be much lower owing to the significantly lower capital cost." Action Aviation is exclusive representative for the Middle East and Russia for Project Phoenix.