Guangzhou Aircraft Maintenance Engineering (GAMECO) has been given preliminary board approval to build a $108 million engine-test centre, as part of wider investment in expanded overhaul and repair centres for southern China.

The company hopes to have the new factory operational by 2000, provided that it is given final approval by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). It is planned to build the plant at a site outside Guangzhou, between the existing Baiyuan International Airport and the recently approved replacement airport.

According to GAMECO general manager Dan Lange, the unit will be designed to take any size of existing turbofan engine up to between 467kN (105,000lb)-thrust and 489kN. Its primary purpose will be to support the smaller Rolls-Royce RB.211-535, International Aero Engines V2500 and CFM International CFM56 engines now in service with GAMECO's main customer and joint-venture parent, China Southern Airlines.

The airline had originally been planning its own stand-alone engine-overhaul joint venture with General Electric. The planned Zhuhai site subsequently failed to get off the ground in the absence of CAAC approval.

GAMECO, in which Lockheed Martin and Hutchison Wampoa are also joint-venture partners, is hoping finally to begin construction of a new $23 million aircraft-maintenance hangar at Wuhan Airport in early 1998. The single-bay hangar will be large enough to take one Boeing 757 or two 737s, and will be used primarily for A- and C-checks.

Lange estimates that the hangar will take about 18 months to complete. GAMECO, in the meantime, has been given approval to take over a smaller, ready-built, hanger at Wuhan from China Southern. Once the new unit is completed, the existing hangar will be converted in a paint shop.

GAMECO's longer-term investment plans are focused on the new Guangzhou Airport and the construction by 2002 of a $70 million three-bay widebody-aircraft hangar and accompanying backshops and stores. A second three-bay hangar is penciled in for 2005 and a third for 2010.

Source: Flight International