Selecting the right MRO
Maintenance houses offer a wide range of capabilities. Choice can be difficult but good service relationships are worth the effort.
Jet Aviation MRO capabilities
Technician inspects landing gear during Falcon 900 maintenance. Jet Aviation's STL facility includes some 650,000 sq ft of hangar space.
Jet Aviation VP of MRO Operations Skip Madsen notes, "The last 12 months has been very good, and we've seen a backlog through most of the year.
Q2 and Q3 we have been averaging 45 to 60-day backlogs."
He adds that hot sellers include "Wi-Fi systems, cabin management systems, cabin entertainment and satcom installations—some smart runway/smart landing projects as well."
Jet Aviation's STL (Lambert, St Louis MO) facility, which encompasses some 650,000 sq ft of space over 9 separate hangars, has been especially busy.
STL focuses both on completions and traditional MRO activity, and Madsen points out that they also average about 12 Bombardier completions per year, including full interior and paint.
Jet Aviation VP MRO Ops Skip Madsen notes that many Bombardier Global operators conduct additional discretionary maintenance items while the interior is removed during 8C inspection.
"We do many of the custom modifications that are more difficult to get out of a traditional OEM," he says, "and we're known for very high quality, craftsmanship-type completion."
On the MRO side, Jet Aviation's largest seller this past year has been the Bombardier Global 8C inspection—a 10-year inspection which includes the landing gear.
"We've done 8 already, and another 6 before the year ends," he says. "We have more experience in the 8C inspection than any other facility in the US.
During that inspection, of course, the whole interior comes out, and that's a good time for operators to make additional upgrades or have other work completed.
We've seen about 60% of operators choose to have additional work completed while the interior is out, be it Wi-Fi or a cabin configuration change."
Dallas Airmotive and EFI
Dallas Airmotive has up to 115 field service techs, with an average level of experience of 15 years, able to respond 24/7.
Dallas Airmotive is a BBA Aviation Company. Dir Marketing and Strategic Planning, Engine Repair and Overhaul Group Chris Pratt shows a growing level of confidence in the return of maintenance business in recent months. In particular, Pratt cites a phenomenon at the lower end of the turbine market that, he says, points to things to come.
"We're seeing a pickup in flying time and cycles," he says. "One market that has pleasantly surprised us is the PT6 market for hot sections and overhauls. The PT6 market has been very quiet the last couple of years [but] it seems flight activity has picked up.
Moreover, it's significant because it's the lower end of the turbine market—one that is generally more price sensitive—so a pickup in their business is a good indicator of what's to come in the rest of the marketplace."
BBA Aviation Dir Marketing and Strategic Planning Christopher Pratt looks first to the lower end of the turbine engine MRO market to gauge industry demand and trends.
Dallas Airmotive, which specializes in PT6 and TFE731 engines, has a field service technical force of about 115 maintenance techs, scatted about the US, all linked to provide increasingly rapid response times.
Says Pratt, "The time between our 1st support center receiving the call, and having one of our teams onsite—meaning with a wrench on an airplane—is 9 hrs." Increasingly, the idea of rapid-response field support teams supporting AOG situations has become an industry norm, with the beneficiary being the customer.
Montreal QC, Canada-based Innotech Aviation Services specializes in full completion services—paint and interior—in addition to traditional MRO capabilities.
Mike Mahood is maintenance director for Executive Flight of EAT (Wenatchee WA). He echoes Pratt's sentiments on increased flying hours on the lower end of the turbine market.
"We're seeing a steady but slow increase in RFQs for Learjet 35 12-year/12,000-hr inspections in the last 6 months or so," he says.
Executive Flight, which specializes in the "classic Lears"—the 35s and 31s—as well as Challengers, Citations and Beechjets, opened a 2nd Part 145 repair station in 2011 at BFI (Boeing Field, Seattle WA) in support of its growing maintenance presence in the northwestern US.
Landmark Aviation MRO Sales Representative Brad Jacobs also has seen pre-buy activities on the rise, which will keep the company's SDL facility busy through year end.
Brad Jacobs, an MRO sales representative for Landmark Aviation based at SDL (Scottsdale AZ), is also optimistic. "The flying does seem like it has picked up," he says, "and it seems like aircraft sales have also picked up. Quite a few of the jobs we've received in the last few months have been pre-buy activity."
Jacobs says Landmark's SDL facility, which focuses on small to midsize jets as well as the Beech King Air, recently completed a major avionics install on a King Air 350, but in general has found discretionary spending on large avionics projects to be somewhat uncommon.
Still though, reflecting on a growing backlog, Jacobs states, "Our shop in SDL is completely booked through the end of the year."