GAL employees work hand-in-hand with their customers to ensure aircraft and their crews are always ready when called into action
GAL and AMMROC are the bedrock MRO businesses of EDGE’s Mission Support cluster, but there are key differences between the two. While AMMROC carries out heavy maintenance and specialist upgrades under one roof, GAL provides on-base, first and second-line mission support to the UAE military and other agencies, managing their supplies and logistics, and keeping aircraft in the air.
A labour intensive organisation with more than 5,000 employees representing 71 nationalities, GAL is “very much embedded with the customer”, says Khalid Al Breiki, president of the Mission Support cluster. Set up in 2007, initially with a focus on supporting the UAE’s rotary-wing fleets, GAL has since combined both rotary and GAL employees work hand-in-hand with its customers to ensure aircraft and their crews are always ready when called into action fixed-wing and has diversified into other areas of air defence.
It is based at around more than 10 customer locations, and has expertise on almost 40 platforms. Since its inception, the business has supported more than 400,000 flying hours. Among GAL’s services, it provides logistics support, including managing parts inventories and other supply chain services. These can be delivered as a “standalone offering or part of an integrated lifecycle solution”, says Al Breiki.
GAL is also looking to offer outsourced support beyond UAE borders, explains Al Breiki. “We are considering other opportunities, including countries in Africa, and others, where we can add value. Every country wants to have the sovereign capability to maintain their own platforms. We say that we can come and build that capability in-country, and then move back and provide expertise remotely,” he says.
One of GAL’s most interesting ventures in this field is a joint approach with a strategic international partner, under which the EDGE business manages a bonded warehouse to speed and simplify the distribution of components for aircraft built by the OEM, whose types are flown by a number of nations in the region.
By having spares positioned in the Middle East, repair times on these aircraft are reduced from months to weeks, says Al Breiki. Customers save not only by avoiding having to have their own expensive inventories of spare parts, but also not having the cost and time delays of sourcing spares from the OEM’s country of origin.
GAL also provides some services to the commercial sector. However, Al Breiki maintains that military MRO is a very different beast to its commercial counterpart, and not just in terms of volume. “In commercial, you often know your schedule for the year,” he says. “In military, you are always reacting to threats. That makes our side of the business much harder to predict.”
That is why GAL has been investing heavily in data analysis to drive efficiencies in its operations. “AI [artificial intelligence] in this business is a must,” he says. “You cannot rely on what has happened in the past to predict when the next [component] failure will be. We are very focused on building data and using AI and deep machine learning, where applicable, as part of our everyday routines.”
GAL’s ultimate aim, says Al Breiki, is to remove all the stress of sustaining equipment in the field from the military or other operator, leaving them to concentrate on their core mission – flying the aircraft. It is also to be close at hand whenever needed. “Wherever the customer is,” he says. “We are there with them.”