Kelly Aviation Centre Montreal plans first engine induction in April

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Kelly Aviation Centre Montreal expects to induct its first engine for overhaul this April, pending Transport Canada approved maintenance organisation certification.

The division of Lockheed Martin Canada is in the process of applying for certification and actively ramping up operations, says Amy Gowder, vice-president and general manager of the Kelly Aviation Centre in both Montreal and San Antonio. It is in preliminary discussions with customers and expects more news regarding customer agreements in the coming weeks.

Aveos Fleet Performance had been occupying the facility near Montreal's Trudeau Airport up until it declared bankruptcy on 19 March 2012.

The maintenance company finalised the purchased the assets of Aveos' engine maintenance facility on 15 January. The facility had been performing overhauls for engines that fit Air Canada's fleet profile, including the General Electric CF34 and CFM International CFM56 variants as well as the Pratt & Whitney JT9D and Honeywell GTCP36-300 auxiliary power unit.

No companies made offers to re-start the facility to meet an initial deadline in July, with prospective buyers noting that they found the facility too large, in need of modernisation and noted that they saw excess global capacity in the space. But after this, Lockheed Martin Canada signaled interest in signing a long-term lease for the building, which the court approved on 14 December 2012. However, it then decided to purchase the building and entered into an asset purchase agreement for the facility on 21 December.

The maintenance centre saw an opportunity to place an engine centre in Montreal for several reasons, says Gowder.

For one, the facility's capabilities complemented Kelly Aviation Centre's capabilities in San Antonio, which services the General Electric CF6-50 and -80 models as well as the CFM International CFM56 engine.

"We saw the markets that they were addressing complemented and expanded the footprint of San Antonio," says Gowder.

Secondly, the facility has backshop capabilities, which provides a value-added engine overhaul service. The MRO says it will upgrade some equipment but will use most of the existing equipment in the facility.

The skilled workforce in Montreal was another factor that prompted Lockheed Martin Canada to set up shop there. About 1,200 Montreal-based workers represented by the International Association of Machinists (IAM) were laid off after the Aveos closure, the union told Flightglobal in December. Some of those workers found permanent or temporary work after the closure.

Kelly Aviation Centre Montreal has hired about 25 employees and plans to grow to 50 when starting up the facility, including management staff. By the end of the year, it is planning to have a workforce of about 100 people. As the facility grows, that number could expand to as many as 150 to 200 people. Many management personnel are ex-Aveos employees.

The MRO is in the midst of performing cosmetic changes on the 525,000 square foot (48,774 square metre) facility and plans to utilise a majority of that footprint. However, the flow of the space will also change as Lockheed brings in Lean experts.

"We do anticipate streamlining the layout," said Gowder.

Kelly Aviation Centre expects to have capacity of at least 100 engines per year - but that is a conservative estimate, says Jim Andrews, onsite general manager for Kelly Aviation Centre Montreal.

When the facility belonged to Aveos, the centre was performing overhauls on between 100 and 150 engine overhauls annually, says Andrews. That amounted to inductions of about 2.5 CFM engines per week and one CF34 engine per week. When it reopens, Kelly Aviation Centre Montreal is conservatively targeting at least 100 engine inductions per year, with the ability to ramp up capacity if needed with additional shifts.

About half of the overhaul volume at Aveos was comprised of engines for Air Canada, while the rest came from global customers. The MRO says it is open to working with Air Canada as a potential customer. Lufthansa Technik won a contract to service the carrier's engines during the reorganisation process, which had at one point been offered with the facility itself to drive interest from potential customers.

Capabilities at the new MRO will focus on the CFM56 and CF34 engines initially, with plans to add different engine types in line with market demands. The facility is positioned to handle CFM56-5A and -B engine work, and the -C variants when those engines hit a peak in an overhaul cycle. The San Antonio facility focuses on the CFM56-3 engines, and will be positioned for -7 overhauls.

"We will definitely evaluate the market and the cycles coming up. We believe that these two product lines are well positioned for the near term," says Gowder. "And just as Lockheed Martin does long range planning, we will start to look at the long range capabilities for this site as well."

In addition to start-up capabilities, Kelly Aviation Centre Montreal will be positioned to begin military work at the facility in 2014, says Gowder. It will also address other markets, like quick engine changes and engine accessory services.