Singapore Air Show

Marshall opens Aussie shop to serve Asia region

 - February 2, 2010, 6:00 PM

Marshall Aerospace has created an Australian subsidiary to spearhead a drive for more business in the Asia-Pacific region. The British company is best known as a world-leading C-130 airframer and has provided engineering services to support the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) C-130 fleet at Richmond airbase for many years. It is exhibiting at the Singapore Airshow as part of Team Australia (Stand H65).

“We have developed a core of highly skilled people in design and certification,” Peter Taylor, senior business development manager, told AIN. “The regional markets are very attractive and we’ll offer solutions for military and commercial aircraft.”

Taylor explained that although Marshalls might set up a design facility in Australia, the company would “not be building a large hangar.” Instead, it would work with existing maintenance companies, perhaps using the Australian model. At Richmond, the company acts as a subcontractor to Qantas Defence Services, which provides the labor force working on the RAAF C-130s.

Marshalls has recently demonstrated complex design and integration skills in two major projects at the company’s home base in Cambridge, UK. One of them involved converting a C-130 as the flying test bed for the very large TP400 engine that powers the A400M.

For the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNLAF), Marshalls converted into upgraded C-130H transports two former U.S. Navy EC-130Qs that had been in desert storage for 18 years. The airframes were moved by truck and ship from the U.S. to Cambridge. Marshalls stripped and rebuilt them with the structural upgrades necessary to achieve civil certification.

It replaced virtually all the analog displays and installed a new CNS-ATM architecture based on a flight management system integrated with INS, VOR, DME, ADF and GPS navigational aids. It also added a traffic collision avoidance system and an enhanced ground proximity warning system. The first aircraft is due for delivery soon, and after the second one joins it, Marshalls will perform the same upgrade on other two
C-130Hs flown by the RNLAF.

Marshalls has held sister design authority for the C-130 since 1968, when the UK Royal Air Force (RAF) bought a fleet of 66 C-130Ks. It has designed more than 600 modifications for those aircraft and has been very busy in recent years fulfilling urgent operational requirements for the RAF’s C-130Js and the remaining C-130Ks. However, until the Dutch contract it had not applied an avionics upgrade of its own design to foreign Hercules aircraft. Thales had designed the C-130 upgrade that Marshalls performed for the South African air force.

Now, though, the UK firm seems well placed to secure more C-130 avionics upgrade work. It overhauls the Swedish C-130 fleet at Cambridge, and last year Sweden abandoned a plan to adopt Boeing’s avionics modernization program for them.

According to Stephen Welburn, Marshalls’ head of international services, Sweden is evaluating whether to replace its C-130s or have them upgraded by another company. “Each C-130 operator has different upgrade requirements. Not all of them use their airplanes in the same way,” Welburn noted.

Although the C-130 work has dominated Marshalls’ business for years, the company also has performed major mods on Boeing 747s, 767s, MD-11s, DC-10s and Airbus A320s. It supports the world’s last fleet of Lockheed Tristars–nine aircraft operated by the RAF–and has done an avionics upgrade on one of them using experience gained from the Dutch C-130 contract. It also supplies fuel tanks for the Boeing KC-767, P-8A, 747-400ER and 777-200LR.

In other news, Marshall Aerospace has just acquired Slingsby Advanced Composites, the British company that once made gliders and training airplanes.Slingsby designs and produces nonmetallic parts for a variety of advanced applications, including helmet shells, submarines and UAVs.