Boaz Bal, Sales Director for VIP Completions at Fokker Techniek, considers the company’s legacy as a basis for its continuing excellence
Aviation enthusiasts will know the name ‘Fokker’ for its legendary association with military aircraft and the long line of Fokker airliners, beginning in 1919 with the F.II and continuing to the F70 and F100, which remained in production until 1997. Aviation and the Fokker brand have come a long way together.
Anthony Fokker was a successful aircraft designer, constructor and pilot. He had vision, he was an innovator, he was persistent and an entrepreneur. A man of notable character and certainly not loved by everyone, he is nonetheless remembered as the Dutch aviation pioneer and a legend of his time.
Much has changed since Fokker built his first machines, but his passion for aircraft and serving customers endures. In those early days, passengers who could afford to fly to the Far East, the US and other far-off destinations received special treatment and experienced his exclusive cabin interiors. The Fokker F.III of 1920, for example, had a spacious cabin for the time. It included armchairs and a sofa and, later, even a bar.
Fokker and his engineers also employed revolutionary construction methods. These included his steel pipe base frame, introduced in 1912, using oxyacetylene welding techniques, and the development of cantilever wings.
On this legacy Fokker Techniek, the completion centre of Fokker Services Group, continues to deliver, grow and develop. Its history is impressive – few other companies can claim more than 100 years of experience building exclusive aircraft cabins.
Fokker Techniek’s Woensdrecht facility, where VIP and special mission aircraft cabins are completed, was founded in 1955. Its location adjacent to a Royal Netherlands Air Force support base provides access to the military runway and ensures appropriate customer security and privacy. At Woensdrecht Fokker has delivered almost 70 years of maintenance and modifications to countless aircraft of all types. Commercial airliners and military transports, fighters, rotorcraft and head of state aircraft, the facility has welcomed them all.
Boaz Bal, Sales Director for VIP Completions, explains: “The historic photographs on these pages illustrate the variety of styles, colours and configurations Fokker has delivered for head-of-state aircraft. Most subsequently returned to Woensdrecht for heavy maintenance, refurbishment or modification.
“These very special cabins have included casinos, medical facilities and wood-crafted interiors. Through their creation, Fokker Techniek has gained lots of knowledge and experience, building on its capabilities over the years and developing new techniques. And the knowledge and craftsmanship built up over generations is being transferred to the next generation of staff.
“Fokker Techniek currently includes a Part 21J engineering department, Part 21G manufacturing shops and Part 145 airframe services capability. The monument building, upholstering, wiring, surface treatment, tubing, welding, sheet metal work and machining that takes place in the shops are the backbone of the company’s daily business, while our exterior paint hangar can take care of how an aircraft looks on the outside.”
The Dutch royal family has been among Fokker Techniek’s clientele for many years, the Fokker F27, F28 and F70 all having served. In 2019, Fokker Techniek delivered a BBJ737-700, as the successor to the Fokker F70, in partnership with Boeing Business Jets. Since then, Fokker has serviced and maintained the aircraft, and upgraded its cabin to keep it continuously available to the Dutch government and royal family.
Heads of state, private individuals and executive/VIP charter companies all use Fokker Techniek, appreciating its discretion as well as its expertise. Bal says: “Respecting our customers by not revealing their identities or details of their cabins and onboard systems is key in our business. Sometimes it is a little difficult because we are so proud of who we work for and what we do for them. It’s disappointing not being able to show the world the fantastic cabins we make, but it’s just part of the job.”
Fokker does indeed have a reputation for high-quality interiors that are also lightweight and quiet, helping maximise range and passenger comfort.
Considering the future, Roland van Dijk, CEO at Fokker Services Group, says: “We acquired Fokker Services and Fokker Techniek in 2021, with a clear investment and growth plan. Aircraft completions and conversions are part of our long-term strategic aim, and we have our first widebody VIP cabin project in completion. An Airbus ACJ330-300 for K5-Aviation, it will be delivered in the second half of 2024 and structural preparation and cabin modifications have begun.
“In keeping with our strategic plan, we decided to build a new state-of-the-art widebody hangar measuring 80x80m on the inside. The ACJ330 VIP project will be the first to use it and it also allows us to offer completions on aircraft including the Boeing 777X and 787, and A350. We have several potential projects in the pipeline, again in keeping with our growth plan and aims for further development at Woensdrecht.”
From its origins in handmade aeroplanes equipped with loose bamboo cabin seats and sofas, Fokker Techniek has become a world-renowned completion centre delivering exclusive jets with showers, bedrooms, cinemas and more, all certified to the latest standards.
Van Dijk concludes: “The aviation industry remains a fascinating world in which innovation and modern techniques continue to push boundaries. It has impacted all our lives and prompted us to explore the world, providing opportunities to be with family and friends and build new business models around the globe.
“We are proud of our rich history and take equal pride in the fact that we are contributing to a future-proof concept of flying. This is how the epic Fokker journey continues. It’s your vision of flying we want to facilitate.”