Autumn 2023

Realisation of Design

The newly combined expertise of AIRHAWKE and Berletex Aero Design has created a VIP aircraft design engineering powerhouse. EVA spoke with AIRHAWKE CEO David Vanderzwaag

This past June, Quebec’s AIRHAWKE acquired Berletex Aero Design, a Montreal-based design engineering business with 25 years’ experience, predominantly in the VIP industry. Continuing under the AIRHAWKE name, the combined entity boasts cargo, special missions and VIP aircraft engineering expertise.

David Vanderzwaag, AIRHAWKE’s CEO, explains: “I’d worked at arm’s -length with Berletex in previous roles and appreciated their incredible depth of experience and design efficiency in the VIP space. Following the purchase, the team has expanded from 12 to 25 employees and many of the new members are proven leaders in their field with prior experience working together. This has created a unique dynamic and culture that sparks an energy and belief in the collective ability of the AIRHAWKE team to conquer any challenge customers put before them.”

AIRHAWKE casts its engineering magic in the space between the customer’s vision and the finished project. “We work with the completion centre or MRO, enabling the realisation of the design by engineering the airframe and interior structures and systems, generating the relevant STCs and enabling the functionality of components,” Vanderzwaag continues.

“We typically engage with the airframe once the interior design has been completed and the layout more or less agreed. At this point, we develop the engineering definition to build the necessary components. We normally start with 2D layouts of the interior, including galleys, lavatories, consoles, seats, and so on, then work to align customer expectations with a certifiable design. The devil is really in the detail, ensuring we design structures that perform to the owner’s expectation.”

Although its head office is in Montreal and AIRWAWKE has a relatively small team, Vanderzwaag says it has representatives and professional representation across the North Americas and Europe. “Collaborative software and connected tools are key to working efficiently with a team and customers spread out across the globe. Our distributed workforce initiative means we employ or retain customer-facing engineers who live near our customers’ bases of operations. This constant presence results in improved efficiency and reduced travel requirements. We’re also introducing augmented reality, adapting software compatible with the Microsoft HoloLens headset to save time, increase productivity and optimise budgets.”

AIRWAWKE employs a combination of engineering excellence and connectivity to satisfy the most demanding customers and Vanderzwaag takes pride and joy in meeting their challenges. “Admitting those challenges, working to overcome them and creating a solution always has us sincerely appreciating what we do,” he says.