mro means big business

May 27, 2019

The MRO business means lots of opportunity, and companies of all sizes want in on the action. Nick Klenske writes

According to Oliver Wyman’s Global Fleet and MRO Market Economic Assessment 2018 – 2028, the global Business Aviation MRO market is valued at $12.3 billion – much of which can be attributed to a growing (and aging) fleet.

Needless to say, such a market means lots of opportunities for growth and competition. On the one hand, this means a likely cycle of consolidation, similar to what has been happening in the FBO sector. As a case in point, see StandarAero’s acquisition of Vector Aerospace

On the other hand, this also means more and more OEMs are starting to vie to control more of their customers’ in-warranty MRO experience through increased factory-owned facilities. Most recently, this was seen with Dassault Aviation’s acquisition of TAG Aviation’s European maintenance activities. “This acquisition allows Dassault Aviation to reinforce its European service center network,” says Dassault Chairman and CEO Eric Trappier. “With TAG Maintenance Services, we intend to further develop a network of excellence and to support TAG’s different aircraft clients with the same commitment to service quality, while expanding the share of Falcon maintenance activities controlled by the Dassault Group.”

The news follows an announcement that Dassault had acquired the global maintenance activities of ExecuJet, a Luxaviation subsidiary. “The acquisition of ExecuJet’s MRO operations will strengthen Dassault Aviation’s global footprint, especially in Asia-Pacific, Oceania, Middle-East and Africa,” adds Trappier. “With ExecuJet, we will continue the development of our high-quality customer support network, while growing our Falcon market share.”

Dassault’s moves are in-line with what other OEMs are doing. For example, last spring Gulfstream announced that it would be building a new MRO facility at TAG Farnborough Airport. The facility will include office space, customer areas, shop space and a hangar able to accommodate up to 13 large-cabin aircraft. Significant ramp space will also be included, along with a car parking area. The entire facility is projected to cover approximately 180,000 to 220,000 square feet (16,723 to 20,439 square meters).

The news follows a slew of new MRO facilities and expansions happening at Van Nuys, California; Appleton, Wisconsin; Savannah and now the United Kingdom. “The growth of the Gulfstream fleet and increased size of our aircraft are driving the need for continued growth and additional capacity in our service center network,” explains Gulfstream President of Product Support Derek Zimmerman.

Likewise, earlier this year Bombardier announced the next major investment in enhancing its global customer service experience with a significant expansion in the Asia-Pacific region. The award-winning Singapore Service Centre will more than quadruple its current footprint, transforming the facility into a high-capacity, one-stop-shop super center offering its customers a full gamut of maintenance, refurbishment and modification services required throughout an aircraft’s life, directly on site.

The Singapore Service Centre announcement follows last year’s news that Bombardier is growing its North American maintenance capabilities with the construction of an expanded service center at Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport. This facility will be inaugurated in 2020 and will more than double the current customer service footprint in Florida.

MRO Roundup

As the MRO market continues to evolve, there’s never a shortage of news and developments coming from the marquee players. Here’s a roundup of the latest.

StandardAero

Earlier this year, StandardAero’s Fleetlands UK facility was granted EASA certification by the UK Civil Aviation Authority. The announcement comes one year after the company’s agreement with Honeywell to serve as the only authorized TFE731 heavy engine maintenance facility located in the Europe, Middle East, Africa and India region.

“This was the final step in fully industrializing our TFE731 overhaul capabilities, including CZI, MPI and core repairs at Fleetlands,” says StandardAero President of Business Aviation Marc Drobny. “We are now serving the full needs of EMEAI TFE731 operators locally in that region, with the same quality, speed, service and value that we provide from our MRO shops located in the US.”

StandardAero is now approved for full testing TFE731-2/-3/-4/-5/-20/-40/-60 engine series models at Fleetlands.

Jet Aviation

Swiss-based Jet Aviation has established itself as a global MRO juggernaut, providing services to large-cabin aircraft from hubs in Basel, Dubai, Singapore and St. Louis – complemented by other maintenance bases in EMEA, Asia and North America. The company’s maintenance facilities are approved by all major manufacturers and rated as jet aircraft repair stations by aviation authorities worldwide. In other words, whatever your aircraft type or size and whether it needs a routine inspection, unscheduled or heavy maintenance or even structural repair – Jet Aviation is ready to deliver with minimal downtime. The company also boast a 24-hour AOG team of technicians capable of being immediately dispatched to a grounded aircraft.

Last year, the company received FAA STC for ADS-B Out compliance for the B747 series aircraft. Subject to specific equipment configurations, this approval authorizes Jet Aviation’s MRO and Completions facility in Basel to configure and install ADS-B Out systems on N-registered B747 aircraft.

Duncan Aviation

Shortly after opening its new-construction MRO maintenance hangar in Provo, Utah, Duncan Aviation welcomed its first aircraft – a Bombardier Global Express XRS. The work scope for the aircraft includes a 120-month airframe inspection and 10-year landing gear overhaul.

“We have been working hard to prepare and plan for our new maintenance and modifications center in Provo and are thrilled to have the first maintenance hangar ready and open for work,” says Duncan Aviation Vice President of Operations at Provo Chad Doehring.

A paint facility is expected to be ready in early spring and a second maintenance and completions hangar structure will follow. By the second quarter 2020, all the full-service back shops and offices for the new 275,000-square-foot facility will be completed.

West Star Aviation

In January, West Star Aviation announced the completion of its new 60,000 sq. ft. hangar at its East Alton, IL location. The state-of-the-art hangar features 40,000 sq. ft. of hangar space and 20,000 sq ft. of back shop and office space that supports West Star’s growing capabilities, allowing the company to fully expand upon existing aircraft maintenance programs. This additional growth will initially employ 28 technicians to support the expansion, in addition to their existing hiring efforts.

Meanwhile, the company’s Chattanooga facility was named an Authorized Service Center for the Embraer Lineage 1000 and 1000E, continuing to enhance the Chattanooga location as a one-stop-shop for Embraer customers. Additional capabilities include avionics repair and installation, airframe and engine inspections, service bulletin installation and compliance, along with full interior redesign and refurbishment, and exterior paint services.

The inclusion of the Lineage models now extends to both the Chattanooga and East Alton facilities.

Flying Colours

Flying Colours, who is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, kicked things off by moving into its fifth hangar at the Spirit of St. Louis Airport. The existing building, which is ideally located adjacent to the KSUS runway, adds a much-needed 30,000 square feet to the St. Louis footprint.

Flying Colours took over the hangar lease in December 2018. Since then the local team has been outfitting the building, installing new state-of-the-art tooling and supplementary maintenance equipment as well as revamping the office décor. The completed facility accommodates up to three parallel large-jet maintenance, avionics upgrades and interior projects at once. It is initially expecting to support heavy maintenance work and two Bombardier Global aircraft are already in-situ for 120-month heavy maintenance checks.

The addition of the fifth hangar runs in parallel to the beginning of construction at Flying Colours’ Peterborough, Ontario headquarters of a fourth hangar, which will be large enough to manage completions, refurbishment, maintenance and paint work in a new dedicated paint shop for Bombardier and Gulfstream large jet types, as well as executive airliners.

Aero-Dienst

The end of 2018 saw several accolades for Aero-Dienst.  First, the company was presented with the ‘Bombardier Business Aircraft Authorized Service Facility (ASF) Excellence Award’ as the best service facility in the ‘Europe’ category. It is the fourth year in a row that the Nuremberg specialist for maintenance, operation, sales and management of business aircraft received this distinction for its excellent record in providing Bombardier customers with first-class quality, performance and service.

Towards the end of the year, Frank Hofmann, an apprentice at Aero-Dienst was named Germany’s best aircraft electronics technician by the German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK). Of a total of 165 final-year apprentices from all over Germany, Hofmann achieved the best final examination results in his sector.

“At Aero-Dienst, the training of young aircraft electronics technicians and mechanics has played an important role for many years,” says Aero-Dienst CEO Viktor Peters. “By giving young professionals a career start, we also secure our own long-term success in the demanding context of maintenance and repair of business jets.”

RUAG

In March of this year, RUAG MRO International received the renewal of its approval status for the Pilatus PC-12. The Authorized Pilatus Service Center agreement allows RUAG to provide customers with the full range of aircraft MRO services, including Aircraft on Ground (AOG) support. RUAG first achieved the Pilatus PC-12 type rating status in 2008.

The dedicated PC-12 team manages an average of 150 aircraft maintenance and support events annually. These include line, base and heavy maintenance checks and AOG events, as well as multi-service visits that feature component and subsystem MRO, avionics upgrades, inflight entertainment system (IFE) and connectivity integrations and cabin modifications.

“Our Pilatus PC-12 team is highly specialized and knows the aircraft inside and out,” says Pio Ming, General Manager of RUAG’s Geneva site. “Over the years, Pilatus PC-12 customers have come to understand that this expertise translates into the prompt and reliable resolution of routine maintenance events and optimized downtimes, all of which means improved aircraft availability and more time in the air.”

SR Technics

2019 has already been a busy year for SR Technics. The company recently announced a further expansion of its UK line maintenance network with the opening of a new line station at Birmingham. Thanks to the addition of the new station, SR Technics is now present at all major international gateways in the UK, serving many international customers. The company also announced its plans for continued growth at its Malta facility. Over the course of the year, projects include delivering a new six-bay hangar and transforming local operations into a Center of Excellence for SR Technics base maintenance.

Comlux

Comlux announced that Comlux Completion, its completion and service center in Indianapolis, is raising the bar in maintenance services on large VIP aircraft such as ACJ and BBJ. During 2018, the company maintained a steady stream of recurrent maintenance clients, but also gained four new operators including three BBJs based in the US and one BBJ2 based in the Middle East.

“Comlux provides clients a top-of-the-line VIP maintenance option in the industry with a full pedigree of in-house engineering and back shop fabrication capabilities for their aircraft,” says Comlux Completion CEO Daron Dryer. “We aim to protect the value of the assets of our customers by performing quality maintenance and repair work in accordance with the manufacturer’s best practices.”

Lufthansa Technik

Last fall, Lufthansa Technik and MTU Aero Engines laid the cornerstone for their new joint venture EME Aero in Jasionka, symbolically launching one of the biggest and most advanced GTF MRO service centers worldwide. Pratt & Whitney GTF engines power five regional and narrow body aircraft platforms, with the A220 and the A320neo family from Airbus and the Embraer E190-E2 already in commercial service. The total investment for the service center is EUR 150 million by 2020. Plans are to have the facility – with its 40,000 square meters of workspace – up and running by the end of 2019.

“This joint venture is an important step for Lufthansa Technik and our partner MTU in expanding our respective engine maintenance businesses,” states Dr. Johannes Bußmann, CEO of Lufthansa Technik. “That is why this laying of the foundation stone marks an important day, as EME Aero will enable both companies to provide technical support for one of the world’s most important aircraft engines.”

The construction site for EME Aero service center consists of about 160,000 square meters and is set to be completed by the end of 2019.