Bizav engine MROs spool up for growth

 - May 17, 2008, 4:36 AM

The business aviation engine maintenance repair and overhaul (MRO) market presently serves approximately 26,000 turbine-powered aircraft. The sector worldwide now is worth about $1.8 billion per year.

“The market will grow at a robust five to six percent per annum over the next decade,” predicted Kevin Michaels, principal of AeroStrategy, a consulting firm. “Although the North American operators represent about 70 to 75 percent of that market today, more aircraft are being delivered into non-North American markets. Last year about half of the orders went to non-North American operators.”

Michaels observed that corporate flight departments generate between 45 and 50 percent of this $1.8 billion MRO spending and these operators typically opt for the cost-per-hour integrated maintenance programs developed by the OEMs. They include Honeywell’s Maintenance Service Plan (MSP), Rolls-Royce’s CorporateCare, Pratt & Whitney Canada’s Eagle Services Plan (ESP) and General Electric’s OnPoint.
“For example, on the TFE 731, more than 70 percent of all operators are enrolled on the Honeywell MSP,” noted Michaels. “In contrast, the Part 135 charters and cargo operators who operate older equipment tend to shop the market and go to independents, the largest ones being Standard Aero and Dallas Airmotive. In general, though, the business aviation engine overhaul market is basically a licensed service center market, where most of this market is addressed by either OEM shops, or OEM licensees. That seems to be the model that works,” he said.

In the last three years, Pratt & Whitney Canada’s Eagle Services Plan (ESP) enrollments increased by 35 percent, according to Raffaele Virgili, vice president of service centers. “The number of fleet management program (FMP) contracts is also on the rise and now includes agreements with VLJ [very light jet] fleet operators. We are offering maintenance coverage to individual operators in collaboration with aircraft manufacturers through nose-to-tail programs at our 30 designated or owned service facilities worldwide,” he said.

P&WC (Booth No. 463) recently opened new parts distribution center in Amsterdam and Singapore to expedite deliveries in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and the Pacific Rim. It also launched its Customer First center in 2007 to offer fast and integrated frontline support to customers 24/7. The engine maker is working toward new aggressive shop turnaround times and has added mobile repair teams to complement its extensive network of field support representatives.

Meanwhile, GE Aviation (Booth No. 1047) has reported a marked increase in the number of MRO agreements, particularly for its CF34 engine. Earlier this year, the company signed its 100th OnPoint service agreement. The organization currently performs MRO services for more than 200 CF34-3 business aircraft engines operating in the U.S., Europe, the Middle East, Russia and Australia.

For example, GE offers a CF34 engine modernization program for operators of Bombardier Challenger 601s. The program retrofits the hot-section of the CF34-1A/3A/3A2 to the CF34-3A1’s hot section. “The current hard-time maintenance interval is 3,000 hours. With the new upgrade, the average first unscheduled shop visit will occur at about 9,000 hours–equivalent to 20 years of typical business jet operation,” explained Bill Hoernschemeyer, small commercial engine sales director at GE Aviation. “The retrofit can be performed with a scheduled overhaul at GE’s Strother facility, GE branded service shops or other GE-authorized shops. In addition, the program allows operators to enroll in our OnPoint services plan at a rate per hour up to 60 percent lower than the current hard-time rate.”

Like GE, Honeywell (Booth No. 322) also has a network of authorized service centers in addition to its own facilities in Phoenix, Arizona; and Raunheim, Germany. The facilities support new engine models recently entering service, including the HTF7000 (Challenger 300), the TFE731-40AR (Gulfstream G150) and TFE731-50 (Hawker Beechcraft Hawker 900XP). Along with a general increase of engines in the field, these new models have created the need for additional network service providers, according to Steve Gomez, technical sales manager, propulsion and safety products with Honeywell Business and General Aviation.

In March, Honeywell added Landmark Aviation to its network of authorized service centers for operators of the TFE731, TPE331 and Honeywell 36-series APUs. Other recent additions include: Starport Aviation, Sanford, Florida; Elliott Aviation, Moline, Illinois; and Uni Air Enterprise at Paris Le Bourget Airport in France.

Gomez pointed out that the older engine fleets are kept up-to-date by taking new technologies and retrofitting them into the older fleets. The most recent example is the upgrade of the TFE731-3 to the new -4 standard on Falcon 50 aircraft. Available since last year, this upgrade provides increased reliability, durability, extended hot-section/MPI and overhaul/CZI intervals, as well as increasing thrust in climb and cruise.

Dallas Airmotive (Booth No. 1007), with its Premier Turbines division and its H+S Aviation affiliate, comprise BBA Aviation’s engine repair and overhaul business group. Recent developments at the company include the addition last month of 16 new engine model authorizations from Pratt & Whitney Canada. Included are seven models of the PW100 turboprop engine, eight models of the PT6A turboprop engine and one additional model in the PW500 turbofan engine line. Dallas Airmotive is a P&WC-designated overhaul facility for these engines as well as the JT15D, PT6 and PW300.

In March, Dallas Airmotive opened a new overhaul facility at Washington County Airport near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The facility brings to 10 the number of regional turbine centers in the U.S. and UK. These shops perform repairs and hot-section inspection services on a quick-turn basis for PT6A, JT15D, PW500, TFE731 and RR250 engines. Expanded services at Dallas now include performing hot-section inspections on PW300 series engines.

According to Christopher Pratt, director of marketing and strategic planning, business and general aviation operators are increasingly signing-up for pay-by-the-hour programs on new engines from OEMs. MRO access to these engines is available through the OEM or authorized independents, such as Dallas Airmotive and Standard Aero. Most of Dallas Airmotive’s facilities are located on airports to facilitate fly-in service.

“In the past few years we have seen many business jets with on-condition engine maintenance programs,” observed Mark Peters, marketing process and planning with Standard Aero (Booth No. 641). “The most notable outcome of this is the lack of hard-time maintenance events. Without hard-time overhauls and hot sections, maintenance becomes more of an on-going process.”

Responding to industry demands for PT6 engine overhaul, Standard Aero recently completed a $1.6 million transformation to improve PT6A engine workflow, capacity and turn times at its facility in Winnipeg, Canada. The company anticipates a 30-percent increase in PT6A engine overhaul capacity without adding more floor space or equipment.

Notably, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration recently granted several STCs to Standard Aero for upgrades to aircraft powered by this ubiquitous turboprop, including the Piper Cheyenne I, IA, II and IIXL and Hawker Beechcraft’s King Air F90. The company is also working on certification for other airframes, including the King Air 200, King Air B200 and Cessna Caravan.

In April, Standard Aero Singapore contracted with Turbomeca Asia Pacific to support its Arriel 1 and Arriel 2 engines. Emergency medical service provider Air Methods also contracted with the company for MRO on its Rolls-Royce 250 engines.

Last year Standard Aero purchased TSS Aviation in Cincinnati for $65 million. Standard Aero and Landmark Aviation were added to Dubai Aerospace Enterprise’s (DAE) portfolio of aviation businesses as part of a $1.9 billion buyout from the Carlyle Group. Standard Aero now comprises Landmark Aviation’s MRO services (formerly Garrett Aviation), Associated Air Center and TSS Aviation. In another development, Standard Aero is starting a $5.5 million expansion of its Maryville, Tennessee facility for MRO work on PW600 engines for new very light jets.