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Middle Eastern boom lures global MRO players

Lured by vertiginous fleet growth in the Middle East, the MRO giants of Europe and Asia are seeking partnerships to establish beachheads in the region.

A prime example is Air France-KLM's MRO division, which opened a nacelle repair shop with Safran's Aircelle in Dubai in March 2010. The main focus for the 50:50 joint venture, named Aerostructures Middle East Services, is thrust reverser repair for turbofan engines, with additional capabilities to handle other nacelle components.

The company supports General Electric CF34-8E, CF6-80 series, GE90, CFM International CFM56-5A/5B/7B, Engine Alliance GP7200 and Rolls-Royce Trent 500/700/900 engines. Its first project was a Trent 700 thrust reverser repair for Gulf Air in August 2010.

The facility has eight workstations for large engines and eight for smaller engines. A clean room is available for composite repairs, plus a milling shop and paint booth. The 2,200m² (23,700ft²) facility is located on a 11,000m² site, giving ample space for expansion.

AeroTechnic A320 MRO, Patrick Delapierre
 © Patrick Delapierre
Aerotechnic Industries conducts labour-intensive A320 MRO in Casablanca, Morocco

Air France-KLM set up a 50:50 base maintenance joint venture for Airbus A320-family aircraft with Royal Air Maroc in Morocco in February 2010. Aerotechnic Industries uses two aircraft bays at the airline's maintenance centre at Casablanca's Mohamed V airport and the service is aimed at African, European and Middle Eastern operators. The jointly managed company focuses on A- and C-checks as well as modification work, with D-check capability to come in the future.

Air France and Royal Air Maroc want to "pool their long experience with medium-haul fleets". With several daily flights between Morocco and Paris, they promise an "unbroken supply chain" through Air France-KLM's maintenance base in Paris, which would guarantee "unrivalled short turnaround times".

Other examples of international MRO companies moving in are Singapore's SIA Engineering and Lufthansa Technik. SIA Engineering has signed a memorandum with Bahrain's Mumtalakat holding company to set up an MRO venture called Gulf Technic.

Lufthansa Technik inked a letter of intent with Oman Air at Dubai air show in 2009 to set up an MRO facility in Muscat. The partners want to build a hangar to accommodate two widebody and two narrowbody aircraft, providing maintenance up to light C-checks for Airbus A330, Boeing 737, ATR 42 and other aircraft in Oman Air's fleet.

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