Farnborough Air Show

Developing In Civil MRO

 - July 14, 2014, 8:55 AM
Aerostar’s biggest MRO client from Africa is Royal Air Maroc (see above, a RAM Boeing 737 has a ‘C’ check). With a new second hangar opened in 2012, Aerostar’s civil MRO business has grown while military work has enjoyed limited success, such as upgrading 8 MiG-21s for Mozambique (below).

Aerostar has had considerable success building its civil MRO business having gained engineering expertise in defense work over several decades–most recently is its contract with the Mozambique air force to “bring back to life” eight MiG-21s, a contract that included training and support.

Ovidiu Buhai, director of aviation maintenance and upgrades, told AIN that Starbow of Ghana “came for a second aircraft this year and has another BAe 146 its wants a C-check on,” while “FastJet intends to come with another aircraft in November.

“We are looking also to other operators in Africa, within the range circle–5,000 km or maybe 6,000 km,” said Buhai. “FastJet came because of good price and positive feedback from other airlines,” and he hinted at other customers from Africa already signed up and said it has its first [undisclosed] customer from the East coming later this year.

Almost all Royal Air Maroc’s Boeing 737NGs come to Aerostar for heavy maintenance. “We’d like to have more customers like RAM,” said Buhai, who described late-2013/early-2014 as “a very good season.” He described Aerostar as a “center of excellence for 737 maintenance” though it has considerable experience with A320-family aircraft, too. It has carried out heavy checks on six and has contracted for another four, said Buhai. “So we aim to do another six this year,” he said during AIN’s visit last month. Operators in Turkey, such as Pegasus, are particularly in the company’s sights for follow-on business.

Buhai’s final comments were about a possible third hangar, if it develops a 737 freighter conversion program, or A320. “We’ll need a separate place for this and we have space to put in another hangar,” he said, admitting that the company is also “considering extending our capabilities to Embraer E-170 and E-190 [families].”

Remus Vlad, MRO/upgrades business development manager, listed some of the other work Aerostar had enjoyed, including heavy C-check on a 737-300F for Mena Aerospace Cargo (this aircraft was in the hangar), while a Starbow BAe 146-200 had just left the hangar when AIN visited–with another due in February 2015 if it does not get sold. Vlad said Aerostar carried out “54 heavy checks last year.”