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AAR sees widebody MRO work returning stateside

Demand in the USA for MRO work on widebody aircraft is on the rise as airlines increasingly chose to have such work completed stateside, according to MRO service provider AAR.

The company tells Flightglobal that a facility it plans to open in Rockford, Illinois, is being designed specifically to accommodate newer widebody types like Boeing 787s and 777s, and competing products from Airbus.

“The focus will be on next-generation widebody aircraft,” the Wood Dale, Illinois-based company tells Flightglobal.

AAR, which announced plans for the new 200,000ft2 facility in August, says it expects to break ground this year and complete the site in spring 2016.

The facility will include two 90,000ft2 hangers.

Until recently, AAR says, US carriers often favoured having such widebody MRO work done overseas, typically in countries in Asia and South America.

But airlines are now bringing MRO work back to the USA, due partly to the increasing complexity of the newest aircraft and to rising overseas labor rates, according to the company.

“We see that [trend] only continuing,” says AAR, noting that its facilities in Indianapolis and Lake Charles (Louisiana) are already seeing more widebody work.

“We know the market is out there,” AAR insists.

It will be at the Chicago Rockford International airport about 145km (90 miles) west of Chicago O’Hare International airport — a central-US location that the company says should make it convenient for customers.

AAR does not intend the site to siphon work from its other facilities.

Rather, AAR expects work from new widebody customers will keep the Rockford site busy.

The company says it does not have any new customers lined up yet, but that the site “is gaining visibility with potential customers.”

Like AAR’s other sites, the Rockford location will provide a range of services, including scheduled and unscheduled maintenance and modification work and interior modifications.

“As these new airliners accumulate more miles, we will do more [work] as necessary,” says AAR.

Asset Image

AAR rendering of its Rockford (Illinois) MRO site, scheduled to open in Spring 2016

The Rockford location is being developed by AAR in partnership with the state of Illinois, which has agreed to invest $15 million in construction and $600,000 in employee training.

One benefit of the Rockford site, AAR says, is that it will be designed from scratch for the newest widebody types.

“[It] is nice to be involved with the design from the beginning, to make sure everything is state-of- the-art and meets our needs,” says AAR.

By comparison, many of AAR’s six other MRO sites were already operational when AAR acquired them.

For instance, Northwest Airlines previously operated AAR’s Duluth (Minnesota) facility and United Airlines previously operated its Indianapolis facility, says AAR.

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