Bedek Aviation Group, an Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI, Chalet 208) subsidiary based at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, has expanded its remit to oversee four business lines. The company announced several major MRO and aircraft conversion deals with China’s HNA Group and Air Transport Services Group (ATSG) of the U.S. in the past 12 months.
“Bedek Aviation Group had a successful 2018," said Yossi Melamed, IAI executive vice president and Bedek general manager. " We have accomplished 17 Boeing 767-300 conversions and two Boeing 737-700 conversions, as well as finishing up the 737-800 conversion prototype, which is now in final test flights toward certification.”
In September 2018, Bedek entered into an official supplier agreement with China's HNA Group. Bedek's engine division will serve as the maintenance and overhaul center for HNA Group airlines operating the V2500 engine. Engines will be sent to Bedek by the customer and returned to China following servicing. The agreement's value was estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars a year.
“We welcome the contract with HNA Group, a breakthrough for Bedek which is expected to open up additional markets for us in engine maintenance as well as in other specialty areas,” Melamed said.
In 2018, Bedek won another conversion contract for passenger-to-freighter(P2F) 767s with Wilmington, Ohio-based ATSG. A number of the Boeing freighters are likely to support Amazon Prime Air’s growth this year. “[Other] initiatives in the MRO business are [expected] this year, especially major airframe and engine long-term agreements,” Melamed said.
This year, Bedek took over three divisions of IAI to form the Aviation Group (AG), which now operates as four business lines: Bedek MRO (aircraft, engines, and components MRO), Conversions and Upgrades (commercial and military aircraft), Lahav Aero-Structures (large-scale structure manufacturing), and Aircraft (business jet manufacturing, including the Gulfstream G280). In parallel, AG operates divisions in engineering, operations, and flight testing to support the above four business lines.
“This new form of the Aviation Group [has been] working [well] since January 1, 2019,” Melamed said. “All divisions are very busy and looking for ways to expand their business in new programs and partnerships around the globe. We are performing 737NG P2F conversions in China and also soon going to do [this] in Mexico, where we already have a 767 P2F conversions program running.”
Bedek claims to have won a global reputation as a supplier of comprehensive services for passenger and cargo aircraft. Its customers include aircraft leasing companies, airlines, OEMs, and cargo shippers. “Bedek's modern facility provides a complete range of maintenance and overhaul services…for wide- and narrowbody aircraft. Recent years have seen significant developments in engine maintenance, with Bedek's Engine Division providing leasing services for aircraft engines,” it said.
At its aircraft manufacturing center, IAI continues to work on business jet manufacturing with its Gulfstream G280 program. “The helicopter MRO business is expected [to see] some growth, as we plan to implement new avionics features for commercial, as well as military use,” Melamed said.
Bedek claims to be the only company worldwide still to have an active P2F conversion program for the 747-400. It is also looking into 777 and Airbus A330 programs as a replacement platform for the large-segment freighter market. Melamed said Airbus A380 conversions would be evaluated “the moment we receive a request from the customer.”
Bedek has also set up its Hangar Lab to promote new initiatives relevant to its lines of business and to provide added value to customers. A number of these initiatives are already in the working phase, through Israeli and international startups, using the knowledge and expertise of IAI’s AG.