Tulsa, Oklahoma-based Lufthansa Technik subsidiary BizJet International Sales and Support has embarked on a large-scale expansion of its engine MRO business as the company’s business-jet and VIP interior completions operations come to an end.
Long a provider of engine MRO for Rolls-Royce Speys and Tays powering Gulfstream business jets, BizJet International quietly began performing MRO work—mainly by providing mobile engine services—on IAE V2500 turbofan engines for one major customer about a year ago. Now it is planning to expand its V2500 business substantially in the three-year period from 2018 through 2020: “We’re open to the whole market,” BizJet president and CEO Volker Magunna told AIN.
Knowing that parent Lufthansa Technik (LHT) was going to concentrate all of the group’s completions work at its massive MRO facility in Hamburg, Germany, Magunna began establishing a V2500 MRO shop at BizJet International as a strategic addition to LHT’s global network of engine-MRO facilities. LHT is planning for BizJet International’s much-expanded facilities, particularly to complement the group’s existing engine-MRO shops in Hamburg and Montréal, he said.
“There is no other independent V2500 shop in the United States, so the market potential is very high,” said Magunna. BizJet International is primarily seeking commercial operators of V2500 engines powering Airbus A320ceo-family aircraft as customers, but the company is also happy to handle V2500 MRO work for VIP and business-aviation operators of Airbus ACJ corporate versions, he said.
BizJet International (Booth 3455) is targeting not only North American carriers as customers but also Latin America-based airlines, which together operate many hundreds of A320-family jets. As a result, Magunna sees enormous combined market potential in North and South America for BizJet’s V2500 MRO services.
Under its parent’s strategic direction, BizJet International intends to expand its engine-MRO capabilities even further in the next few years by adding the CFM56-B to its portfolio, according to Magunna. The other engine type that powers the A320ceo family, the CFM56-5B, has a majority share of the huge A320ceo engine market. The company does not rule out potentially adding the CFM56-7B models powering all Boeing 737NGs to its MRO portfolio in the future. But while “the CFM56-7 fleet is bigger in the U.S. [than the CFM56-5B]…it is very modern” because most 737NGs operated by U.S. carriers are young, said Magunna.
BizJet International’s existing engine-MRO facilities at Tulsa International Airport include an engine test cell capable of handling turbofan engines producing 50,000 pounds of thrust. This provides an important benefit for customers because post-MRO testing assures them their engines will not have vibration problems following repair or overhaul, according to Magunna.
However, to accommodate its engine-MRO ramp-up, BizJet has begun renovating the 116,547-square-foot hangar in which it performed its interior completions to accommodate 28 new engine bays. These will add to eight engine bays it has in a 223,150-square-foot facility it uses for Spey and Tay MRO, back shops, and offices. By 2019, when BizJet re-opens the hangar it is now renovating, it will have 30 engine bays available. Others will become active later.
The additional bays will “provide more space than we need for the next one to two years, but the area next to the engine shop is under construction, which is not good” for ensuring high-quality engine MRO work in closely adjacent areas, said Magunna. “So we are investing now to be prepared, so we get a balance between quality, growth, and [turnaround] speed.”
In addition to its two large engine-MRO facilities, BizJet has two 80,500-square-foot hangars. It uses one for aircraft visiting its seven-day FBO and for removing and storing Gulfstream jets’ Spey and Tay engines and the other as an overflow hangar. BizJet International’s site has additional space for facilities to handle future business opportunities, according to Magunna.
BizJet’s engine-MRO growth plan encompasses a staff increase commensurate with the rapid expansion of its physical capabilities. This year the company is hiring 60 more employees for its engine-MRO business to add to the 100 it had in January, according to Magunna. Next year it will add 30 percent, or about 50, more; and in 2020 it will increase its engine-MRO staff by another 30 percent—by then another 60 to 65 employees. In addition to mechanics, BizJet will hire customer-service, engineering, supply-chain, and administrative staff to handle its increased engine-MRO workload.
Many new employees are likely to be graduates of a 12-week A&P mechanic apprenticeship-initiation course BizJet International runs every three months at the request of the state of Oklahoma. While BizJet isn’t guaranteeing it will offer every graduate full-time employment, “at the moment” its engine-MRO expansion requires the company to hire more employees annually than there are graduates from the initiation courses, according to Magunna. The company began the courses in February and hired eight graduates by September.
BizJet International expected to complete its last aircraft interior-completion job in late September.