Rre-calibrating VVIP and Head of State Completions in the U.S.
In my 26 years in the business I’ve seen plenty of new promising completion centers come and go. We all have. There is no infallible formula for succeeding in the large aircraft completions space – but there are some key components that exist in all large centers having stood the test of time.
Emerald Aerospace, LLC is what some are calling “the new kid on the block” and whatever your bent on the marketplace for large completions over the coming years – we can all agree the number of large VVIP projects has dramatically increased over the last decade. Emerald may indeed be the “new kid” but they are far from being the inexperienced ‘Johnny come lately’ we’ve seen on occasions. Top-tier centers that successfully operate in this space all know on thing: It’s a very unique animal, fraught with finicky customers and daunting challenges. In short, it’s a business you have to love. And for the Emerald Team, VVIP aviation is in their blood. Realizing the growth of this sector and therefore the need for a new high-level center on US soil, the core group set about the business of scouring the country – but with a very specific set of criteria.
Workforce, Core Values and Security were at the top of the list. These mandates, according to Larry Pope, company Senior Advisor and Director of Corporate Communications, represent the key ‘success based’ components that can be found in all successful centers, without fail.
When the founders first set sight on the old Boeing facility in Wichita, the team mandates and their value, all began to re-ignite with purpose and vision.
Today with 26 full time employees and the first in a series of large VVIP aircraft ready for input, the evidence of these criteria is everywhere. Let’s first examine geography. Wichita KS is smack in the middle of the Midwest where US values and ethics traditionally run high. It’s also largely considered the birthplace of general and business aviation in the US and it has an incomparable work-force of highly skilled laborers, many of whom were laid off when Boeing made their exit in 2013. The Emerald team with just the 26 individuals as it sits today represents hundreds of years of experience in large aircraft completions and modifications. That experience base is poised to grow exponentially.
But perhaps most notable (and rare) is the level of security that Emerald brings to the party. Few centers anywhere in the world have what Emerald does. First, it’s located adjacent to an active US Air Force base; McConnell – and all the intrinsic security that goes with it – and secondly, because this impressive former Boeing facility was used to build and maintain the American executive fleet known publicly as Air Force One. As such, it possesses one of the world’s most advanced security infrastructures. In short Emerald now reigns as one of the most secure centers anywhere in the world – offering its customers uncompromised protection, anonymity and security for their projects – and a workforce that is uniquely qualified to build and install head of State and VVIP interiors.
Seldom does the perfect storm present itself in VVIP aviation – but this seems to be one of those moments. Emerald Aerospace is poised to become one if not “the” premier completion facility in the world – “and the factors that have made it possible” says Mr. Pope “are the ones that ultimately will insure our success. We feel like many of the current paradigms in large VIP completions are dated and inefficient. In that sense, he claims, “our job is to now capitalize on our good fortune in locating this great facility – and redefine some of the processes that will truly raise us above the fray. Our emphatic goal is to provide our customers not only an advanced deliverable, but a smooth ride.”
Emerald Aerospace may be the ‘new kid’ but it’s likely to be the kid that many others will seek to emulate in the coming years.