Johannesburg’s The Jet Centre expands its support facilities

 - September 28, 2006, 6:30 AM

South Africa’s National Airways is opening a new maintenance operation for business jets at Johannesburg Lanseria Airport. The Jet Centre facility officially opened on October 1 and it will primarily support Raytheon’s entire jet line, including current-production types and the full spectrum of British Aerospace HS.125s. National Airways claims it will offer a level of service previously available only in Europe and North America.

National Airways is the only approved Raytheon service center in Africa, and
it carries FAA approval. It has long maintained Raytheon’s Beechcraft and Hawker product lines and is now providing a separate hangar dedicated to working on jets. This is large enough to accommodate two Hawker 4000s, three Hawker 800XPs and two Beechjets simultaneously. The company has been upgrading its tooling to support the newer models, and it already has full-service avionics and component shops. It can repair items such as landing gear and brakes.

According to André de Wit, general manager of National Airways’ fixed-wing maintenance division, there are currently four Beechjets in South Africa, along with eight Hawker 800XPs and five Premier Is and IAs. There are also numerous old HS.125s operating in Africa, including some powered by the original Rolls-Royce Viper turbojets. Many of them operate in countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, and National Airways flies its engineers to such places to provide local support.

De Wit acknowledged that keeping the old Viper engines running can be a challenge because Rolls-Royce no longer supports the type. However, the OEM does operate an engine exchange program and National Airways has been able to farm out engine support to another company at Lanseria Airport. The company itself would like to be involved in any future program to re-engine HS.125s with Honeywell’s TFE731 turbofan.

National Airways provides handling for the increasing number of business aircraft flying into Lanseria Airport. It also has its own executive charter division and it is a Raytheon distributor for southern Africa.