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KAI's MRO unit set conduct first heavy check on 737

Korea Aerospace Industries’ (KAI) MRO unit, Korean Aviation Engineering & Maintenance Service (KAEMS), will induct its first aircraft for heavy maintenance in December.

Responding to queries by FlightGlobal, KAI adds that this will start with a Boeing 737 NG operated by a local low-cost carrier. In 2019, KAEMS will look to service Airbus A320s, as well as 787s.

Headquartered in Sacheon in the South Gyeongsang province, KAEMS will look to provide heavy C to D checks as its main business. However, it will then expand the portfolio to include component maintenance, supply chain management and line maintenance.

KAEMS will use an existing KAI hangar that was formerly used for military MRO and upgrades. The hangar will be able to accommodate up to two narrowbody aircraft.

On future capacity expansion, KAEMS will build a new hangar that will have the capacity to hold either one widebody aircraft or two narrowbodies, or up to five narrowbodies. However, the company did not detail the timeline for expansion plans.

KAI reveals that KAEMS has not yet obtained an Approved Maintenance Organisation certificate from the country’s ministry of land, infrastructure and transport. KAEMS had applied for the relevant approvals in September and expects to be approved “by November at the latest”.

Launched in July, KAEMS is a joint venture between KAI and Korea Airport Corporation (KAC), with minor investments from Jeju Air, Eastar Jet, Unical Aviation, BNK Financial Group, Hizeaero and A-Tech.

KAEMS is confident of success as the newest MRO entrant into the Korean maintenance market.

“Although Korea is not a rapidly growing market like China or South east Asia, KAEMS sees an up-tick of 4% CAGR until 2030 thanks to the growing LCC demands. [More importantly], Korea [has] never have had a [third-party] MRO company,” says KAI.

“Despite the growing airline needs, full-service carriers have focused on providing service for their own fleet, therefore, all the LCC MRO had to go international. Korean FSCs are suffering from high-costs on their in-house maintenance, [and] LCCs still require domestic MRO sources for their fleet services.”

South Korea's main MRO firm is Korean Airlines Aerospace Division (KAL-ASD). Located at Busan International Airport, it is a significant player in the commercial and military MRO space, and also produces aerostructures.

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