Flying high: 6 PE-backed aviation deals

Bain Capital, New State Capital Partners, AE Industrial Partners, Nexus Capital Management are investing in aircraft parts and services.

The aviation market has almost bounced back following the pandemic-induced hiatus. PE firms are also picking up opportunities, banking on the attractive sector tailwinds in services, such as maintenance and repair, upgrades, aftermarket equipment and more.

In June alone, PE Hub noted three deals from Bain Capital Special Situations, New State Capital Partners and AE Industrial Partners. We are detailing these, and three other deals announced earlier in the year.

1. Bain Capital Special Situations invests in KP Aviation

Boston-based Bain Capital Special Situations invested in KP Aviation, a Mesa, Arizona supplier of essential aftermarket materials and services for the aviation industry earlier this month.

With a global footprint that includes Europe, Africa and Asia, the company says it serves more than 4,000 airlines, aircraft maintenance companies, investment and leasing firms, and aviation aftermarket suppliers across the world.

“We have been active across the entire aviation ecosystem for decades,” Matthew Evans, a partner at Bain Capital Special Situations told PE Hub.

Across its aviation investments, Bain Capital Special Situations said it seeks to partner with people whom the firm views as industry leaders.

On what’s driving the firm’s interest, Evans sites “the very attractive long-term secularly growing space driven by continued post-covid recovery and build-rate increases coupled with record aftermarket demand.”

2. New State-backed NS Aviation acquires Finnoff Aviation Products

New State Aviation Holdings, a platform investment of the Larchmont, New York-based New State Capital Partners, this month acquired Finnoff Aviation Products, a provider of aircraft upgrades that is based in Broomfield, Colorado.

Finnoff joins other NS Aviation’s existing investments in Blackhawk Aerospace and AVEX Aviation. Finnoff provides proprietary engine and propeller upgrades for Pilatus PC-12 aircraft, improving aircraft speed, safety and climb capabilities, while reducing aircraft noise, the company said.

“We remain focused on becoming the premier service provider for the light turbine market by investing in our people and operations, and acquiring quality businesses,” said Daniel Han, senior principal at New State and chairman of NS Aviation in a statement.

3. AEI acquires aviation services provider Yingling Aviation

AE Industrial Partners, a Boca Raton, Florida-headquartered firm, acquired a majority stake in Yingling Aviation, a Wichita, Kansas-based provider of maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) and fixed-base operator (FBO) services to business aviation and government customers.

Founded in 1945, Yingling Aviation is located at Wichita’s Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport. The company’s MRO services include airframe, engine, avionics upgrades, paint, interior, propeller sales and service, among others.

“This investment represents the beginning of our strategic vision of creating a unique, independent platform of scale providing best-in-class services within this growing market,” said Jon Nemo, senior partner at AEI.

4. Nexus Capital-backed HDT Global acquires AGEC

Nexus Capital Management acquired Aviation Ground Equipment Corp (AGEC), in March. AGEC was added to Nexus portfolio company HDT Global.

AGEC manufactures aviation ground support equipment, including land-based and shipboard portable ground power units and portable universal load banks.

“The acquisition of AGEC is a natural step for Nexus and complements the products supplied by HDT’s Platform Systems sector,” stated Vince Buffa, chairman of the board for HDT Global. “This acquisition allows AGEC and HDT to develop a synergy that ultimately benefits our customers who require full flight line support.”

5. Carlyle exits PrimeFlight Aviation Services

In March, Carlyle exited PrimeFlight Aviation Services to Capitol Meridian Partners and The Sterling Group.

PrimeFlight, based in Sugar Land, Texas, is a global provider of essential aircraft, passenger and security-related services to commercial airline, airport, cargo and general aviation customers.

The company operates across 235 airports globally, providing a suite of services through its network of subsidiaries, including PrimeFlight Cargo, PrimeFlight GSE Maintenance, Prime Appearance, ProFlo Industries, Skytanking and Aviation Cleaning Supply.

6. CD&R and Greenbriar form Pursuit Aerospace

Back in February, New York based Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, together with Greenbriar Equity Group, a Greenwich, Connecticut PE firm, acquired and merged Whitcraft Group and Paradigm Precision to form a new company called Pursuit Aerospace.

Pursuit is a maker of components used in commercial and military aircraft engines.

Whitcraft and Paradigm have complementary manufacturing capabilities, geographies, skill sets and leadership teams, positioning Pursuit to support original equipment manufacturers and pursue growth opportunities, according to the deal announcement.