mro’s scene in evolution

October 24, 2019

With many new models of business jets entering service and the aftermarket activity of business jets strengthening, MRO providers are experiencing strong demand for their services. Marc Grangier reports


In its latest survey of the Business Jet MRO Market, Mordor Intelligence estimates that its compound annual growth rate (CAGR) during the next five years will register at 4.03% and should reach a market value of $4.36 billion by 2024.

Inventory for sale, which is a key market indicator, has been declining steadily over the past 10 years. This means the market for used aircraft is growing – which is good news for the MRO sector. This is because in most cases, new customers of old aircraft want to customize the cabin, which could generate demand for retrofits. Additionally, engines and propulsion systems are serviced before handing the aircraft over.

With ADS-B becoming mandatory in the United States in 2020, cockpit upgrades are projected to be a driving force during the forecast period. With many new models of business jets entering service and with the aftermarket activity of business jets strengthening, refurbishment providers are experiencing strong demand for their services.

A Year of Acquisitions

There’s been a lot of change happening on the MRO scene since we last checked in one year ago.

In Europe, Dassault Aviation has acquired the maintenance and FBO activities of RUAG in Geneva and Lugano – part of its strategy to develop a worldwide MRO network of excellence. The new company is now called RUAG MRO International. Effective early September, Dassault also completed the acquisition of TAG Aviation’s MRO organization, which include its service centers in Geneva, Farnborough, Le Bourget and Lisbon, along with its satellite facilities in Luton, Moscow and Sion (Switzerland). And as if that wasn’t enough, Dassault also acquired the 11 MRO facilities operated by ExecuJet.

All together, these MRO acquisitions mean Dassault Aviation to add 19 new facilities and nearly 1,000 service professionals to its global service network. “We are committed to placing our industry-leading Falcon factory service capabilities as close as possible to customers around the world, while offering the same level of top-notch service for other prominent OEM brands,” says Jean Kayanakis, Dassault Aviation’s Senior Vice President, Worldwide Customer Service & Service Center Network. “Our strategy is aimed at acquiring MRO operations that share our exceedingly high standards for customer service and that operate at the top end of the market.”

Last September, Jet Aviation acquired all joint venture shares from its partners in Vienna, Austria, making the MRO and FBO operation a fully-owned Jet Aviation entity. The company in Vienna was founded in September 2014 and now has 38 full-time employees. Vienna will remain a strong base for Cessna aircraft models, while Jet Aviation continues exploring the possibility of extending support to other OEM aircraft types.

At the time of going to press, Cyril Martinière, VP Regional Operations Europe & GM Jet Aviation Geneva, told BART that VTS Jets, a Russian MRO provider, had purchased the company’s Vnukovo-based maintenance operation. The transaction, which can be called unique for the Russian aircraft maintenance market, was signed on September 9th. According, to Andrey Akopov, General Director of VTS Jets, upon closing, his company will acquire the legal entity known as Jet Aviation Vnukovo LLC as part of the deal. VTS Jets is taking over management of the nearly 30 staff people, as well as all available equipment.

Jet Aviation Vnukovo has approvals from the Russian, European and American aviation authorities, as well as regulators from Aruba, Bermuda and the Cayman Islands (the most popular registers among Russian business jets owners). The company was authorized for work on Bombardier, Gulfstream, Embraer, Dassault Falcon and Hawker business jets.

The company will operate as Jetport Technics, although it will remain a subsidiary of VTS Jets. “Jet Aviation Vnukovo comes to us in its working condition and will not cease its production activities when the owner changes,” says Akopov. “Coupled with the resources of VTS Jets, we intend to further develop maintenance offerings for private jets.”

“It is always a difficult decision to sell an asset and say goodbye to partners and colleagues, but we strongly believe this is the best way forward, enabling continuity for both our customers and employees,” adds Jet Aviation President David Paddock. “We hope to work together again in the future and will continue to welcome and support Russian customers at other facilities throughout our network.”

Strengthening the Service Portfolio

There’s also a lot of MRO growth happening via new facilities and new authorizations. For example, Gulfstream Aerospace added two Brazilian aircraft services companies to its worldwide list of company-authorized warranty facilities. Líder Aviação and Aero Rio Táxi Aéreo are now authorized by Gulfstream to provide warranty repairs and maintenance services within their regulatory approvals for both large-cabin and midsize Gulfstream aircraft, including the Gulfstream G650ER, Gulfstream G650, Gulfstream G550 and Gulfstream G280. In addition, Líder, which operates in several locations, including São Paulo, is now a Gulfstream-authorized parts dealer for South America and can facilitate parts sales transactions to support both scheduled and unscheduled maintenance events.

These additions, further complemented by the new maintenance facilities planned for Palm Beach, Florida, and Savannah, will provide comprehensive and timely support throughout Brazil, especially in the two large cities where most of its operators are located. More than half of the approximately 40 Gulfstream aircraft in Brazil are based in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, and more than a third operate out of Congonhas and Galeão. Another maintenance option for Gulfstream operators in Latin America is the company’s service center at Florida’s Palm Beach International Airport, where a new large facility (115,000-square-foot/10,684-square-meter) will be operational in the first quarter of 2020.

In the US, last August Gulfstream expanded its MRO operations at Wisconsin’s Appleton International Airport with the opening of a newly built aircraft maintenance facility that will accommodate 12 G650ER or G650 aircraft. Gulfstream Appleton is home to a service center and a large-cabin completions facility spread over approximately 500,000 sq ft/46,452 sq m. It offers customers a broad range of services, including major inspections, structural modifications, major avionics installations and safety upgrades. Its MRO operation is certified by the FAA, EASA, the Civil Aviation Administration of China and seven other civil aviation authorities worldwide.

Textron Aviation also expanded its MRO services across the Asia-Pacific region to meet an installed base of more than 1,000 jets and turboprops. Earlier this year, the company announced new customer support solutions in Australia by expanding the appointment of Authorized Service Facility (ASF) Premiair Aviation Maintenance Pty Ltd across a full suite of Textron Aviation models, including Cessna Citations, Cessna Caravans, Beechcraft King Airs, Cessna and Beechcraft pistons and Hawker aircraft. Premiair will also house a new parts facility, following the recent expansion of Textron Aviation’s Singapore parts warehouse.

Rolls-Royce has strengthened its Business Aviation services infrastructure by expanding the global network of Authorised Service Centres (ASC) for its large CorporateCare customer base. The latest addition is Inflite The Jet Centre at London Stansted Airport, supporting the AE 3007A engines that power the Embraer Legacy 600 and 650 aircraft. Rolls-Royce now has 77 Authorised Service Centers at strategic hubs in the US, Europe, Middle East and Asia.

Last August, Pratt & Whitney announced that it was collaborating with Indύstria de Aviação e Serviços (IAS) to open a new overhaul facility in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, for PT6A and PW200 engines, which power more than 1,300 aircraft in Brazil. This new facility builds on an existing service network in the country including Sorocaba, a hot section inspection and parts distribution center. More recently, three sites joined the Pratt & Whitney designated maintenance facilities network in Brazil – more than in any other country – for the line maintenance and mobile repair of PT6A and helicopter engines. ABA Manutenção de Aeronaves in Barreiras serves the needs of agricultural operators, Rico Táxi Aéreo in Manaus serves PT6A general aviation operators and Helipark Manutenção in São Paulo services several Pratt & Whitney helicopter engines. The company expects the Belo Horizonte facility to be operational by the end of 2019.

Last but not least, Bombardier Business Aircraft just opened a brand new Super Service Center in Miami-Dade, Florida. The new 300,000 sq. ft./27,870 sq. m. facility at Miami-Opa Locka Executive Airport features expanded maintenance capabilities and is fully equipped to perform scheduled and unscheduled maintenance, aircraft modifications, avionics installations and AOG support for all of Bombardier’s family of business jets. In other parts of the world, the company has expanded its service center at Seletar airport in Singapore and added new Line Maintenance Stations in Dubai and Biggin Hill, plus Mobile Truck Response Team (MRT) enhancements in the US and Europe and the addition of a dedicated Challenger 300 MRT aircraft.

Inside the Industry

TAG Aviation’s Maintenance Services Center in Geneva recently completed its first 60-month check on a Bombardier Global 6000 aircraft. The aircraft, which is owned by a private customer, underwent its first heavy maintenance check that included routine inspections and repairs as well as a deep clean of the aircraft’s cabin. This major maintenance milestone event marks the first time TAG Geneva performed such an inspection on a Global 6000 aircraft since their status as a Bombardier Authorized Service Facility (ASF) was extended last year.

Textron Aviation has set up a new Aircraft Maintenance Data Hub for owners and operators of Beechcraft, Cessna and Hawker aircraft. The new data hub, available since last summer, offers a more comprehensive record of all aircraft maintenance performed on Textron Aviation products by working with multiple industry tracking system providers. “While previously exclusive to CAMP, customers now have the flexibility to select the recommended provider that best fits their needs,” says Kriya Shortt, Textron Aviation senior vice president, Global Customer Support.

GE Aviation and FlexJet have implemented a comprehensive safety and fleet modernization project, including flight operations quality assurance (FOQA), quick access recorders (QARs) and cellular data services. The equipment will monitor Flexjet’s fleet of 150 aircraft, including Embraer Phenom 300 and Legacy 450, Bombardier Challenger 300, 350, Global Express and Gulfstream G450 and G650. GE Aviation’s Event Measurement System (EMS) which powers their flight analytics services and FOQA systems, are being used on more than 9,000 aircraft.

JSSI Parts & Leasing, a division of Jet Support Services, Inc. (JSSI), has signed a new supply chain services agreement with Contour Aviation. JSSI will provide extensive parts procurement, logistics, and billing support to Contour Aviation’s diverse fleet of business jets. Under the agreement, JSSI will support all part requests, from the initial request through to ensuring on-time delivery. Each year, JSSI supports more than 8,000 maintenance events for clients across virtually every make and model of aircraft.

With SPAIRS (Service Provider for Aircraft Interior Refurbishment Solutions), Lufthansa Technik offers its customers a global production network for aircraft interior parts specialized in repairs (EASA Part-145) and manufacturing (EASA Part-21/G) for aircraft modifications. SPAIRS covers a vast spectrum of interior parts such as panels and upholstery parts.

Comlux has been selected by DC Aviation Group to complete the VIP interior of an ACJ320neo aircraft. This new signing consolidates Comlux Completion’s order book with a total of four ACJ320neo VIP cabin contracts signed to date. Before flying to Comlux’s Indianapolis facilities, the aircraft, belonging to an undisclosed customer of DC Aviation Group, is to be delivered green by Airbus in November 2019.

Swiss-based maintenance facility Air Service Basel recently received authorization from the Mexican Civil Aviation Authority to support small and mid-size business aircraft registered in Mexico, including King Air, Textron and Falcon models. The facility, located at EuroAirport Basel-Mulhouse-Freiburg, is already approvced by EASA, FAA and IS-BAH.

Jet Maintenance Solutions (Jet MS), part of Avia Solutions Group, became one of the first MRO companies worldwide to complete the 7,800 landings inspection on a Bombardier Challenger 604 – to date, only half a dozen aircraft have reached such a milestone globally. To perform such an inspection, Jet MS had to remove a majority of the main aircraft parts and components: engines, inner and backside fuel tanks, stabilizer and many others, which is not done during usual inspections after 48 and 96-month checks.

GDC Technics recently opened a new office in Bristol, UK. With this addition, GDC Technics now has two UK locations, with ongoing operations based out of offices at Bournemouth focused on offering technical and certification services. The Bristol offices will predominantly cater to both major and minor modifications for MROs, leasing companies, airline refurbishment, and reconfigurations. GDC Technics recently announced the approval of an STC for a Media Server and three Cabin Wireless Access Points, along with the completion of a head-of-state aircraft interior weighing under project estimates.

Atlas Air Service GmbH is now certified as a maintenance facility by the Canadian Aviation Authority. As an EASA Part-145 company, this MRO already has approvals from the aviation authorities of Russia, Ukraine, Bermuda and the US for various models from Embraer, Cessna, Beechcraft & Hawker and Saab.

After the closing of its maintenance operation in Zurich last year, SR Technics has now started the construction of a new six-bay hangar that includes significant back-shop facilities for its center of excellence (CoE) for aircraft maintenance and modification services in Malta. The facility is to be completed at the beginning of 2020.

ExecuJet Haite has expanded its EASA maintenance capabilities to include Beijing Capital International Airport, further enhancing its service offerings for EASA registered Dassault Falcon 7X/8X and Bombardier Global operators. The company holds CAAC, EASA, FAA, Cayman, Bermuda, Aruba, Hong Kong, and Macau approvals and offers line and base maintenance support on multiple Embraer, Dassault, Bombardier, and Gulfstream models, as well as line support for the Boeing business jet. ExecuJet MRO Services Malaysia has also been certified by CAAC to provide line and heavy maintenance on Bombardier and Gulfstream aircraft. The approval covers Gulfstream GIV and variants of the Bombardier Challenger and Bombardier Globe Express series aircraft.

Lufthansa Bombardier Aviation Services (LBAS) has been approved by EASA to perform Line Maintenance Services and AOG services for the Bombardier Global 7500 at its home base in Berlin Schoenefeld. Moreover, LBAS can offer AOG services at any location worldwide for the Global aircraft.