Chris Jasper/DUBLIN

Maintenance specialist FLS Aerospace (FLSA) plans a US purchase by the end of this year as part of a strategy that could see it rival Aviation Sales as the world's largest third-party-only aircraft overhaul provider.

The Copenhagen-based company, a division of diversified Danish conglomerate FLS Industries, says it has approached around 10 US maintenance businesses in its drive to add a new piece to its emerging global network. That search has been narrowed down to "about four warm possibilities".

Sources say that among the US operations on the FLSA shortlist are Marana, Arizona-based Evergreen Air Center, Santa Barbara Aerospace and/or its San Bernardino offshoot - both of California - plus at least one facility in the southern USA.

FLSA president and chief executive Steffen Harpøth says the company aims to add "about $100 million" to its turnover through a US move, which he would like to complete "before the end of this year". In the medium term, he says, an Asian purchase is also on the agenda. FLS Industries recently netted $200 million from the disposal of Dan Transport, one of five operating divisions, and much of that cash has been set aside to fund FLSA's planned purchases.

Paralleling its global expansion, FLSA has adopted a business strategy under which it aims to take over full maintenance responsibility for airlines on a long-term basis. The company has achieved "Prime Maintenance Organisation" status - a label it has patented - for carriers such as Premiair of Denmark and the UK's easyJet and Go, while securing long term "nose-to-tail" maintenance contracts.

The FLSA growth plan saw it buy Aer Lingus maintenance division TEAM last year, following with a corporate restructuring which resulted in the divisional headquarters being transferred from London Stansted Airport to its parent's Copenhagen base, home to a new overhaul facility. Its management structure was also reorganised along sectoral, rather than geographical, lines.

The acquisition of TEAM, now FLSA's biggest facility, is expected to boost turnover this year to more than $400 million. The aircraft maintenance division of Aviation Sales expects a turnover of more than $500 million, having been consolidated under the name of TIMCO (formerly Triad International Maintenance), bought last year, so that a major purchase by the Danish player could see it challenge for number one position.

Harpøth confirms that FLSA tabled a tentative bid for TIMCO last August, but withdrew when it became clear that its offer fell short of the $70 million price. The Danish company was subsequently thwarted by Aviation Sales in two further bids, Harpøth reveals - for a Piedmont Aviation Services facility in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and for an overhaul business at Greensboro.

FLSA also has overhaul sites at London Gatwick, London Luton and Manchester, in the UK; at Stockholm Arlanda, in Sweden; and at Palma, Majorca, together with a logistics centre for its growing rotables business at London Heathrow and sales offices at Dallas/Fort Worth Airport, Texas, and in Singapore.

Source: Flight International