FBO Takes Off

Webster’s defines the word “rectrix” as the large stiff tail feathers of a bird that are used to control the direction of flight. In aviation, Rectrix Commercial Aviation Services, a Bedford, Mass.-headquartered firm that consistently ranks among...


Back in 2006, Rectrix introduced a radically different concept that Cawley recalls sparked laughter among many in the aviation industry. But Rectrix had the last laugh when they invited professionals to take a look at their Hangarminium concept and sold out on the first day.

What’s a Hangarminium?

It is a concept that offers the benefits of private hangar ownership without the hassles of needing additional staff or equipment.

These units come in sizes up to 20,000 square feet and in a range of prices from $800,000 to $1.8 million. Each unit is built to an individual buyer’s exacting specifications, and can have features such as 28-foot-high rolling doors, private ramps, and more. In addition, buyers can select from a range of services and amenities offered by the FBO, and receive special fuel pricing.

Currently the firm only offers Hangarminiums at its Sarasota facility, though Cawley says they hope to introduce the concept in other locations as well as add to the eight units they currently have in Sarasota.

When explaining the concept’s popularity, Cawley says simply: “People invest a lot of money into an asset like an aircraft, and they want to keep that asset in a well-maintained, clean facility. When you keep an aircraft in a public hangar, many times it gets dinged or scratched. With a Hangarminium, there is no one there to harm the aircraft, no one to get in the way, and owners can come and go as they please.”

 

Mix It Up

The Rectrix difference continues with its mix of services. While some FBOs are content to focus solely on the FBO side of the business, this FBO has found it makes sense to jump into the maintenance and charter side of things too.

With the acquisition of New World Jet Corporation in 2009, Rectrix Aviation expanded its private jet charter service to more than 5,000 airports worldwide. The company currently has three planes in its charter fleet: a 2007 Bombardier Challenger 300, a 2010 Lear 45XR, and a 2007 Pilatus PC-12. Rectrix hopes to eventually expand its charter locations in Europe and the United States.

And again, its success, says Cawley, is directly tied to going above and beyond in terms of professionalism,cleanliness and customer service.

“There are planes in the charter industry that I would not be willing to fly on,” he says. “We found a niche here by coming in with a world-class attitude. Our aircraft are meticulously cleaned and extremely well maintained.”

Their achievements have captured the attention of others. The firm centered its charter service startup in the Boston area, and initially advertised in the Boston Business Journal. “We pulled the ads after a few weeks because we didn’t need them,” Cawley says. And Argus International, a firm that vets the safety of charter operations, has given Rectrix an Argus Platinum safety rating—the highest ranking possible.

A growing focus for Rectrix is in repair and maintenance operations. The company purchased AirFlyte, a Westfield, Mass.-based FBO with a 43,000-square-foot facility at Barnes Regional Airport. Besides offering typical FBO services, this site provides business suites, concierge services, crew lounges and a conference center. But it also plays host to an FAA Part 145 Certified Repair Station that allows them to maintain most corporate jet aircraft on site.

According to Cawley, entering into maintenance and operations makes good business sense. He explains that while there was a time when people purchased new jets for their private and business use, they now buy used planes instead, and these planes require more maintenance.

It also made sense on the charter side of Rectrix’s business, he says. “We can maintain our own airplanes and reduce our maintenance costs.”

 

Future Focus

The company continues its meteoric rise with construction projects intended to develop FBO facilities at Worcester Regional Airport and L.G. Hanscom Field. It is predicted that these new facilities will bring up to 100 new jobs to Massachusetts, including flight crews with salaries up to $105,000 a year, mechanic positions with hourly pay between $22 and $45, and customer service and ramp employee jobs that pay between $12.50 and $45 per hour.

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