StandardAero made its name in the engine service business – but the company is here at NBAA 2008 to let the industry know there’s a lot more to the company than powerplants.
In fact, StandardAero is now a $1.4 billion company owned by Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE), following last year’s amalgamation of several diverse legacy aerospace companies. These include Standard Aero, Landmark Aviation, Associated Air Center and TSS Aviation – rebranded under the StandardAero banner.
“StandardAero is not just about engines and nowhere is that more apparent than in our business aviation sector,” says Rob Mionis, StandardAero President and CEO. “We are one of the largest and most capable independent tip-to-tail maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) companies in the world.”
Mionis adds: “During our first year as the new StandardAero we had very strong business performance. Our top line has been very strong with revenue growth of 9-10%. We have improved our operating margin and our cash flow.”
Energized by the success, the company has made several major investments during its first year including a $20 million expansion in Winnipeg; an engine shop redesign at Los Angeles Airport; a new PW600 test cell in Tennessee; and new cabinet fabrication and upholstery shops at Associated Air Center in Dallas.
StandardAero’s credibility beyond engines is embodied by the Associated Air Center (AAC), recently celebrating 60 years in business. In July, AAC delivered its 12th Airbus Corporate Jet (ACJ) completion project since 2003, giving the AAC the most experience in ACJ ‘prestige’ completions in the industry.
“Associated Air Center is one of the world’s largest and most experienced VIP completion centers in the world,” Mionis says. “We have done more than 60 air transport size completions over the past 20 years, creating extraordinary executive interiors in large-cabin aircraft. The workmanship that goes into the planes is amazing.”
StandardAero has also expanded its AAC cabinet shop, doubling capacity to 20,000sq ft of space. In addition, cabinet operations have been reengineered allowing for the kitting of cabinetry subcomponents saving valuable cabinet build time.
“Ultimately we think this investment is going to make us more efficient and increase throughput in a very demanding VIP completions market,” says Mionis.
StandardAero has already broken ground on a $20m 80,000sq ft expansion to its facilities in Winnipeg, Canada, to accommodate an increase in turbine engine overhaul work on General Electric CF34-series engines. CF34s are deployed on Bombardier CRJ-100, CRJ-200, CRJ-700 and CRJ-900 series aircraft, as well as the Challenger and Embraer 170.
The expansion is linked to multiple significant contract wins with several airlines, expected to result in a large volume of engine maintenance work. At the facility in Winnipeg, StandardAero provides complete MRO on CF34s, including both scheduled and unscheduled maintenance. Turbine-engine MRO consists of engine disassembly, inspection, acquisition and repair of parts, reassembly and testing.
“One of the company’s key strengths is strong OEM relationships, and a lot of our growth is due to that alignment,” Mionis notes. “For example, our Winnipeg expansion is a direct result of partnering with GE. We are also working on another partnership with GE on a different engine type which will further drive our growth.”
StandardAero is making additional investments on the engine side of the business with a $5m redesign of its Los Angeles engine shops for the TFE731, TPE331 and CFE738. The redesign, based on manufacturing cells, will be able to deliver estimates quicker and cut average turnaround time by 20%. Customers will also benefit from StandardAero’s repair versus replace philosophy of repairing parts instead of replacing them whenever possible, passing the cost savings onto the customer.
“This investment in point-of-use tooling and customized factory flow is vastly improving efficiency, reducing turn-times, and creating a safer environment through cell design and visual factory methodology,” explains Mionis. “We expect to see vast improvements in throughput efficiency and turn-times.”
StandardAero is also building a new $6.5m engine-test cell in Maryville, Tennessee for testing the new PW600-series turbofan engine. The new class of engine from Pratt & Whitney Canada is designed to power the new Very Light Jets (VLJs) such as the Eclipse 500, Embraer Phenom 100 and Cessna Mustang.
“This will be the world’s first test cell dedicated solely to PW600 MRO,” Mionis adds. “Even though we customized this new facility around the PW600, we also designed in some flexibility for potential future testing of engines up to 30,000lb of thrust.”
“Many folks are bullish on the biz-av market, as I am,” Mionis says when asked about prospects for the future of MRO in business aviation. “It is a great space. Half the market is corporate flight departments, and they tend to fly regardless, so we are hoping to stay the course and continue to grow.”
Part of the challenge Mionis sees for MRO companies like StandardAero is employing the right strategy for international expansion, to keep up with the global diffusion of business jet fleets, and service those aircraft in an economical way around the world.
“Avionics is another factor that is changing MRO,” Mionis says. “Cockpits are getting more sophisticated with increasing pilot situational awareness. We think avionics is going to be key to the future, and we are making investments in our avionics upgrade capability to transform cockpits and make them safer.”
Mionis also notes that gearing up for the emerging VLJ market is another challenge for MRO. “Will VLJs darken the skies?” he asks. “We believe in that model and made the investment in the PW600 as a result.” Finally, Mionis sees engineers and airframes getting smarter, which means that in the future there will be less major MRO events.
“You are not going to tear engines apart like you once did,” he concludes. “Working more closely with OEMs is going to become increasingly importance for us, so we are part of the value chain, not just a labor shop at the back end. The key is to migrate from an authorized relationship to the next level by partnering with the OEM on true win-win agreements.”