Farnborough Air Show

Service provider ATC Lasham having busy fortnight at F’boro

 - November 16, 2006, 7:41 AM

Probably more active here at Farnborough International 2006 than any other exhibitor is ATC Lasham (Hall 1/Stand B22), which handles all arriving and departing aircraft. The British aircraft maintenance provider, which is headquartered at Lasham airfield just a few miles southwest of Farnborough, is coming to the end of a 10-year, five-show contract that also covers the provision of ground equipment associated with around 140 different types of aircraft (including those here for the public flying display next weekend).

In a 14-day operation that will have had ATC Lasham personnel on site at Farnborough continuously since the beginning of last week, the company must have available ground power units, aircraft towing tractors (tugs), access equipment and a large range of tow bars. The contract, which previously was held by British Airways, includes all engineering support, including line service.

ATC Lasham has to receive aircraft for static exhibition and reposition them every day as required for both the flying display and any manufacturer’s demonstration flights. The company says that four aircraft must be moved to make room for the Airbus A380 very large airliner, for which there are only two spots on the airfield sufficiently large enough to accommodate it.

New Contract

Recent business won by ATC Lasham, which occupies maintenance facilities previously used by FLS Aerospace (and before that Dan-Air Engineering), includes a 15-month contract beginning in August to provide C and D checks for 19 Boeing 737-300s for Norwegian, a low-cost carrier that formerly operated as Busy Bee Airlines and later Air Executive Norway and Norwegian Air Shuttle.

ATC Lasham is performing a heavy-maintenance D check on the Government of Niger’s Boeing 737-200C and a C check on a SunExpress Boeing 757, including the first European installation of 757 winglets. It also has a five-year 757 maintenance contract from express-parcels operator DHL.

Set up in 1995, the company also has a facility at Southend Airport, on the north side of the Thames estuary east of London, and another at a former UK Ministry of Defence maintenance base at St. Athan in South Wales. The latter was acquired late last year to provide extra capacity while one of the Lasham maintenance bays is extended to increase available 757 space and to enable the company to handle growing 767 business.

ATC Lasham is negotiating with the UK Ministry of Defence to remain at St. Athan indefinitely, and hopes to reach agreement by mid-2007. The Southend capacity was acquired in 2003 with approval for Boeing 727, 737, and 757 work, to which the Airbus A320 has since been added.

ATC Lasham, which claims to be the leading UK independent aircraft maintenance organization, has an Aer Lingus contract covering work on seven A320s at Southend. All painting contracts are performed at Southend, with some aircraft being positioned from Lasham following other work.

As part of continuing enhancement of its principal base at Lasham, which employs almost 300 people, ATC Lasham has installed a new runway. It is talking to Boeing about the establishment of a 757 cargo-conversion line at Lasham, which could be required if any European operators wanted such work completed in the region; current conversions are performed in Canada. The company has obtained the cargo door tooling developed by British Aerospace for Airbus A300 conversions.

Chief executive Nicolas Cook said the company plans to expand its Southend and St. Athan sites. Current growth has enabled the company to introduce five new engineering apprentices later this year, in addition to 15 working at Lasham.

Corporate Work

ATC Lasham is seeing an increasing volume of work from corporate operators of large aircraft, with some 14 owners of 727, 737 and Boeing Business Jet equipment using the company. Like most such organizations, it can provide structural modifications, aircraft-on-ground repairs, in-flight entertainment and avionics system installation and modification, and other technical work.

By specializing in well-established airline models, ATC Lasham believes it is able to provide a low-cost facility in its declared business of “selling man- hours on older aircraft.”

Here at Farnborough, ATC Lasham is promoting An Airfield in Hampshire, a 40-minute video documentary directed by movie actor Oliver Tobias, which interjects coverage of a 14-day 757 check with archive material telling the story of Lasham airfield. It was built during World War II as a fighter and bomber base from which operated de Havilland Mosquitos, Hawker Typhoons, and North American B-25 Mitchells. Lasham is also one of the world’s most important gliding sites.