Air Works, India’s only third-party maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) provider in commercial aviation, is making large investments to enter the general aviation market for heavy maintenance and, at the same time, is putting down roots in Europe, with the imminent opening of a new aircraft paint facility at Bratislava Airport in Slovakia. The 60-year-old company already claims to hold a 30- to 40-percent share of the general aviation MRO sector in India.
Meanwhile, Air Works (Booth No. G93) also is looking to play a larger role in supporting India’s growing regional airline network as more and more smaller cities get scheduled service. For instance, budget carrier SpiceJet’s initial order for 15 Bombardier Dash 8 Q-400s (seven of which have been delivered) and Embraer’s aggressive plans to market its E-Jets in the country have prompted the company to plan ahead. Currently, it is working with both Bombardier and Embraer to develop a $2 million maintenance facility with up to C-check level capability at a private airfield in Hosur, near Bengaluru (formerly Bangalore).
“The facility will take a year to complete, along with training, tooling, building confidence of the team and customers,” Air Works CEO Vivek Gour told AIN. “India is a long-term destination and our plans for expansion are not related to the fortunes of a few airlines.” Air Works will move in anticipation of growth expected in the country and will eventually tap business from Central Asia, the Middle East, Thailand and Sri Lanka, he said.
The company recently signed a memorandum of understanding for a 25-year lease with Slovakia’s Bratislava Airport for a new paint hangar already under construction to be ready by July. It will undertake paint work there for single-aisle Boeing and Airbus aircraft, Fokker 70 and 100s, as well as old Soviet Tupolev Tu-154s and Antonov An-24s. Air Works, which already holds an 85-percent stake in paint specialist Air Livery UK, expects to win around 50 new contracts for painting aircraft each year at the new facility–earning revenues of up to $4 million per year.
Of India’s assorted fleet of 425 general aviation aircraft, about 125 are executive jets, and half of them are preowned. Since the Directorate General of Civil Aviation requires separate Indian certification for every model, Air Works initially has identified 12 commonly used types for which it offers heavy maintenance checks. They include Hawker Beechcraft’s jets, Dassault’s Falcon 2000 family, Bell 407 and 206 helicopters, and Bombardier’s Challengers. It is now in the process of acquiring approval from the European Aviation Safety Agency for its Mumbai and Delhi facilities. “While, technically, we do not need EASA, it is accepted as a stamp of quality,” said Gour.
Heavy maintenance checks have already been carried out on the Bell 206 and 407 and three business jets, including a Hawker 800 and a Bombardier Challenger 600. By the end of this year, the company plans to have completed between 12 and 15 heavy maintenance checks at its Mumbai and Delhi hangars, said Gour. It expects to have more than 20 clients by 2013. “Then, we’ll be in business,” he said.
Air Works is currently constructing a 32,500-sq-ft-hangar in Hosur to accommodate the Challenger, as its present hangars in Mumbai and Delhi are not tall enough for the larger models in that family.