ST Aerospace Aims To Continue Growth In China
From a humble beginning with just an MRO setup in Singapore, ST Aerospace has expanded rapidly into a global service-provider in key aviation hubs in the Americas, China, Europe and Singapore. It provides a wide range of airframe services for all Boeing and Airbus aircraft types with capability up to heavy maintenance.
With strong roots in maintenance repair and overhaul (MRO), and modification of military aircraft, ST Aerospace, a subsidiary of Singapore Technologies Engineering, entered the commercial aviation market in 1990. By 2010, China had become its main focus after global expansion elsewhere.
Chief operating officer Lim Serh Chee said the company is expanding its airframe capacity in China to position itself to meet demand for services in the future. The construction of a hangar at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport is set to be completed in the third quarter of 2013 and will be able to accommodate one widebody and two narrowbody aircraft simultaneously. The new MRO facility is a joint venture with a Chinese aviation company. Known as ST Aerospace (Guangzhou) Aviation Services Co. Ltd., it is expected to start operations by the fourth quarter. No further details are available yet.
ST Aerospace moved into the Chinese market in 2011 to set up a 50-50 joint venture engine MRO facility with Xiamen Aviation Industry Co. Known as ST Aerospace Technologies Xiamen (Statco), it has the capacity to support up to 300 engines annually. Equipped to provide MRO and total support services for the CFM56-7B and CFM56-5B powerplants, there are plans to expand the facility’s capability further.
Located near Xiamen Gaoqi International Airport, the facility has a built-up area of 321,410 sq ft with a state-of-the-art, fully computerized data acquisition test facility for up to 90,000 pounds thrust.
Statco complements the ST Aerospace engine MRO facility in Singapore, which this handles up to 350 engines annually.
China’s MRO sector grew 7.6 percent in 2012 and is projected to grow at a rate of 8.5 percent per annum over the next two years. Lim said that over the long term, according to forecasts published by U.S.-based aviation consultants TeamSAI and ICF SH&E, and Boeing and Airbus, there will be a continuing trend toward outsourcing. Based on TeamSai and ICF SH&E studies, global MRO growth is projected to maintain a 4.3-percent compound annual growth rate over the next 20 years.
Despite the decline in the cargo market in 2012, Lim noted that the modest upturn in the first quarter of 2013 points to a positive outlook for the long term.
ST Aerospace is one of the very few MRO companies with the capability for passenger-to-freighter (PTF) conversion for several aircraft types: Boeing 747, 767, 727 and 757, and MD-11 and DC-10. To date it has performed close to 200 freighter conversions. For the 757, the company has secured contracts for 102 aircraft, with 70 already completed and delivered to customers.
It has signed an agreement with EADS EFW (EADS Elbe Flugzeugwerke GmbH) on a collaboration to launch the Airbus A330 PTF conversion program. Lim said the collaboration also paves the way for EFW to serve as ST Aerospace’s European MRO center to serve customers in the region.
ST Aerospace has expanded landing gear capability to include Airbus A340 for the centerline landing gear at its Madrid facility, complementing the MRO offering for A320 landing gears. The facility is the only certified Federal Aviation Administration and European Aviation Safety Agency Part 145 repair station specialising in the maintenance of A320, A330 and A340 landing gears. The company formed an alliance with Iberia Maintenance to jointly market and provide maintenance services for Boeing and Airbus aircraft types through ST Aerospace Solutions and Madrid Aerospace Services.
As part of its plan to be a one-stop shop MRO service provider, ST Aerospace is developing and expanding its component total support capability to address evolving market demands. Recently it set up a rotable asset management company, ST Aerospace Rotables, which will focus on rotable assets leasing, asset trading, loan and exchange, and provide support to ST Aerospace’s maintenance-by-the-hour program.
ST Aerospace also has capability for various general aviation aircraft and helicopter types. To boost its general aviation maintenance services in Seletar, Singapore, it is constructing a general aviation complex that will house a hangar, simulator center, a center for technical training and VIP facility for air charter customers. It is expected to be completed by this month.
The company has contracts worth $400 million for airframe, component and engine maintenance, as well as engineering and development. It will be carried out through its global MRO network.