Philippine maintenance company Asian Aerospace will begin Lockheed Martin C-130 Hercules overhauls next month as part of the company's plans to double capacity over the next three years.

Asian Aerospace began preparing to add C-130 maintenance capabilities in 2001, following an agreement with Lockheed Martin and the Philippine air force that included the sale of four used C-130Ks. The C-130K purchase never materialised, removing Lockheed Martin's commitment to partly fund a Hercules maintenance centre at Clark International airport outside Manila. But Asian Aerospace chief executive Peter Rodriguez says he has since made "other arrangements" with Lockheed Martin to make the centre possible.

Asian Aerospace has secured contracts to reactivate grounded air force C-130Bs and take over heavy maintenance of the fleet from Malaysian company Airod. The Philippine government has also contracted Asian Aerospace to maintain its VIP transport fleet of Fokker F27s and F28s, with support from Fokker Services Asia.

Rodriguez sees additional expansion opportunities for military aircraft as the USA helps the air force to modernise its fleet by handing over surplus aircraft and spares. He says: "Why send [the aircraft] outside the country, when it's better for the economy and cheaper to keep the work here?"

Until this year Asian Aerospace capabilities were limited to helicopters. The company expanded into fixed-wing aircraft in January, when it began Beech King Air and Bombardier Learjet overhauls in a new hangar at Clark. The first C-130 overhaul will begin next month, with support from Lockheed Martin. Work on a second is due to begin by year-end.

Asian Aerospace will start to build a third hangar at Clark this week. Two more hangars are planned by late 2005, and the company has one hangar each at Manila's domestic and general aviation airports.

Source: Flight International