UK maintenance provider Monarch Aircraft Engineering (MAEL) plans to grow its third-party technical training business and will likely support the Airbus A350 in the future.
Having trained engineers based with its external customers for years, the Luton-based company is now building up its in-house school to become a "full-solution" technical training academy, says MAEL managing director Mick Adams.
Establishing courses to service the Boeing 787 is the first step in this strategy, he explains, but this will later be extended to the 737, 777, A350 and potentially other manufacturers' aircraft.
MAEL is a partner in Boeing's GoldCare maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) scheme and is currently investing around $2.5 million to upgrade its training facility at Luton. This includes a classroom with 16 computer-based student stations and equipment for familiarising engineers with composite repairs and fibre-optic technology.
Since there is "minimal [technical] training capacity in the market for the 787", training its staff in-house is the "best way" to ensure the company's ability to support the aircraft at service entry, says Adams.
Selecting an appropriate time to initiate training has been critical because of the type's programme delays. "If we had trained staff to the original delivery schedule, they would already need continuation training without having seen an aircraft," he says.
While MAEL plans to provide line and base maintenance for the type, its composite repair capabilities will for now be limited to work that can be conducted in a line maintenance environment.
The MRO company will not invest in airframe heavy maintenance equipment for the "foreseeable future", reports Adams, as the type is not due for scheduled base maintenance visits. That precludes the purchase of more specialised tooling or docking systems.
MAEL's first customer will be the UK charter carrier Thomson Airways - which has ordered eight 787s and subscribed to GoldCare - and Adams say discussions are ongoing with a number of additional operators.
Aircraft with GoldCare customers, as well as operators that have not selected the airframer's aftermarket programme, will both be supported.
The decision by MAEL's parent, Monarch Airlines, to axe its order for six 787s last year "has not at all affected" the MRO division's investment plan to cater for the type, he adds.
Nor is the Boeing partnership an obstacle to future cooperation with other manufacturers, Adams stresses, including possible membership of Airbus's MRO network. He says that MAEL has had a "very good relationship" with the European airframer and that this will be developed further. "It makes absolute sense, when the A350 enters service, [that] as an MRO we should be looking to support that product as well."