Dickinson plans broad range of aviation services in St Athan

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Bruce Dickinson plans to venture into business aviation and commercial airline operations as part of his takeover of the former UK Royal Air Force tanker maintenance facility in St Athan near Cardiff.

The aviation entrepreneur and Iron Maiden singer has posted a video clip on the internet, showing the interior and back shop facilities of the 132,000ft² (12,000m²) two-bay widebody hangar, which he refers to as "Twin Peaks".

Whilst walking through the deserted but furnished offices in the building, Dickinson says: "Amongst other things, we maintain an interest in a number of Asian airlines [which] we are operating at the moment. Eventually the idea is that we want to move to a combined operations centre [so] that we operate up to 10 or 11 aircraft."

When he officially opened Cardiff Aviation earlier this month, the company said in a statement that its future services could include aircraft sourcing and leasing.

Dickinson also says one of the "first ports of call is to try obtain a couple of small aircraft to do VIP transport and medevac flights out of here in St Athan".

Regarding the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) business, the company plans to offer airframe maintenance, component services - such as wheel and brake repairs - and engine support. The backshop facilities include milling, cutting, welding and heat treatment equipment as well as a non-destructive testing unit.

A separate building next to the southern hangar contains a paint booth for large components such as flaps and engine nacelles. Dickinson says that the company will "quickly" establish a paint bay to spray aircraft for both airlines and manufacturers.

Each of the two hangars can accommodate one Boeing 767-sized widebody, or alternatively two to three narrowbody aircraft. While the southern hangar has an open plan layout with a mezzanine floor at the back, the northern hangar appears to be equipped with docking systems - including a mobile tail dock - for Vickers VC10 aircraft. Dickinson says that he rescued the structures from being scrapped after the RAF's departure and that they will be modified to work on Boeing models.

The northern hangar will also accommodate the newly acquired Boeing 747-200 full flight simulator, which was previously installed at London Gatwick airport and had been used by Virgin Atlantic. Flight and technical training is to start "almost immediately", with further training devices - such as fixed-base simulators - due to be added in future.

Dickinson currently offers 737-300/400/500 and 757 training in rented simulators at London Heathrow airport through his company Real World Aviation. But the plan is to merge these operations into Cardiff Aviation in future.