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Retrofit company booming during a bustRetrofit company booming during a bust

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Most companies that service the business jet industry are talking about what the economy has done to them in the past year, but one is talking about what it has done for them.

“As the economy turned down, our sales went up,” said David Gray of Flight Display Systems located in Alpharetta, Ga. “We’ve put up a new building, and we are hiring engineers.” Flight Display Systems is in the retrofit business, providing information and entertainment to passengers. It is a market appealing mostly to owners of larger jets, but the company also counts owners of Hawker Beechcraft King Airs and single-engine turboprops among its customers.

Products include iPod players, Blu-ray and DVD players, and a Jet JukeBox that can be removed from the aircraft and programmed in an office, or just used for home or office background music. Touch screens allow passengers to manage hi-def video sources, audio, window shades, lighting, temperature, and other amenities.

Instead of worrying about excess inventory during hard times, Flight Display Systems has built $1 million in inventory to more quickly fill orders. Gray said he feels the quick availability of products for customers is the chief reason why his company is listed as No. 1 ahead of second-place winner Garmin in customer support by AIN, an aerospace news service.

Not all of the money is going into inventory. The company recently tripled its investment in research and development.

Alton Marsh

Alton K. Marsh

Freelance journalist
Alton K. Marsh is a former senior editor of AOPA Pilot and is now a freelance journalist specializing in aviation topics.

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