Singapore-based ST Aerospace will increasingly turn its attention to conversion and modification work in the coming years, and place less priority on its maintenance business.

The MRO firm believes that heavy maintenance man-hours "will not be very high" in future, as airlines increasingly operate new generation aircraft, its president Chang Cheow Teck said in a recent interview.

"So going forward, we're going to be very focused on the modification segment, which means cargo conversion and interior modifications," he added.

The reconfiguration of aircraft interiors will become more frequent since airlines use them to compete and attract passengers, said Chang.

The MRO is already in talks with airlines to offer a "fully integrated effort on interior modification".

"For example, if they want to change seats, install business class sleepers, or new in-flight entertainment, we engage them from the start, from conceptualising to engineering and implementing - all turn-key," said Chang.

The firm is also looking at entering the interior equipment supply business, to be able to supply carriers with anything from seats and overhaul bins to galleys and in-flight entertainment, to complement its interior modification business.

It also plans to launch an asset management arm this year to lease and trade rotable components.

One high-profile project is its collaboration with EADS EFW, a Dresden-based firm that is also the main EADS passenger aircraft conversion facility, to develop the Airbus A330 passenger-to-freighter (P2F) conversion programme.

ST Aero will begin the engineering development phase of the conversion later this year and aims to roll out the first prototype of the A330 P2F conversion in 2016. It is now in talks with "a handful" of potential customers and hopes to secure a launch airline by end 2012.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news