BAE Systems Australia is optimistic about the future of MRO in the country, despite high labour costs and currency woes that have hurt the sector’s competitiveness.
These challenges saw independent MRO firm John Holland Aviation Services shut down in June after it lost key contracts from Tigerair Australia and Virgin Australia.
Moreover, Qantas has shut heavy maintenance bases in Avalon and Melbourne Tullamarine as part of a plan to consolidate its onshore heavy maintenance at Brisbane. It has also signaled that it will outsource its Boeing 747-400 maintenance overseas.
Despite those challenges, BAE’s general manager aircraft integration maintenance and support, Nic Maan, believes that there is still hope for Australia’s heavy maintenance sector.
“The legacy issues are well documented, and I understand why MRO hasn’t worked, but there is certainly scope for people to do it,” says Nic Maan, general manager aircraft integration maintenance and support at BAE Systems.
He adds that BAE intends to step into that role as it expands its fledgling civil MRO business.
One of Australia's key advantages is skilled labour. “The available market of people in Australia is amazing at the moment and I think that is an opportunity for somebody to create something special,” says Maan.
He adds that to stay competitive, MROs need to “balance off cost and quality”, which is a key focus for BAE.
Further than that, Maan believes that with the right model there is opportunity "not only in Australia but Southeast Asia as well."
“There’s a lot of capacity here in Australia, and a lot of good people available,” he adds.