Since established seven years ago, Montreal component repair shop AJW Technique acted largely as a supplier to its UK-based parent AJW Group.

Since established seven years ago, Montreal component repair shop AJW Technique acted largely as a supplier to its UK-based parent AJW Group.

The parent landed deals, and the Canadian shop performed the component aspects of the work.

Times are changing for Technique under the lead of its new chief executive Sajedah Rustom, who is leading the Montreal business toward a more independent future.

That means that in additional to supporting its parent, Technique is landing more deals of its own, expanding its capabilities through partnerships with OEMs and other MRO shops, and investing heavily in digital technologies.

“There was very little direct-to-customer business… It wasn’t considered a standalone MRO in its own right,” Rustom says of Technique’s early years. “We should be able to build a portfolio direct-to-customer, in partnership with OEMs and in partnership with third parties, so we can truly be a standalone MRO.”

“There is tons of scope and room for us to do more in Canada and, beyond that, do more in the Americas,” adds Rustom.

She anticipates that the Montreal business, which now earns about $74 million in annual revenue, will expand revenue 10% in 2020.

UK parts distributor AJ Walter Aviation (now AJW Group) purchased the Montreal repair shop in 2012 from Aveos Fleet Performance, renamed it AJW Technique and folded it into AJW Group. The acquisition gave AJW Group both a North American presence and an MRO operation.

Technique operates a 20,400sq m (220,000sq ft) facility adjacent to Montreal Trudeau International airport, employs more than 200 workers and repairs and overhauls some 6,000 components found on aircraft made by Airbus, ATR, Boeing, Bombardier and Embraer.

Under AJW Group, Technique has acted primarily as a “back-shop”, providing component services to deals won by AJW Group, says Rustom. “The facility itself was really an enabler for the group.”

CEO Rustom joined the repair shop in July following 15 years working with Bombardier, where she held positions including head of aftermarket products and services development, chief aftermarket transformation officer and senior director of strategy and business development.

At Bombardier Rustom had supported the Q400, CRJ, Learjet, Global and Challenger programmes.

She now finds herself on the other side of the MRO spectrum, working for an independent shop at a time OEMs are aggressively seeking a larger slice of the MRO pie. And OEMs, which have full access to technical data and customer relationships, make tough competitors.

To level the field, Rustom has led an effort to expand Technique’s partnerships with both OEMs and other MRO providers, a strategy she says broadens her business’s resources and gives it access to preferred pricing.

“When you come into a standalone MRO world, if you don’t [establish] the partnerships it can be very difficult to get established,” she says. “You can get blocked on pricing and technical data.”

Technique already works with Bombardier, providing component repair for that airframer’s Learjet, Challenger and Global business jets. Other partners including Lockheed Martin and aerospace component maker Liebherr Aerospace, Rustom notes. Under the Liebherr deal, announced in September, Technique provides components to Liebherr and has access to Liebherr’s inventory.

Technique has also expanded the scope of its component repair agreements with aerospace company Heico.

Meanwhile, Technique has landed several component deals direct with North American aircraft operators. Customers include Air Canada and its affiliate Jazz Aviation, Alaska Airlines, Allegiant Air, Delta Air Lines, Ethiopian Airlines, Southwest Airlines and private jet operator VistaJet, Rustom says.

“We’ve got some big wins in the last couple of months that have allowed us to establish a standalone presence,” she says.


Wins aside, Rustom insists Technique’s long-term success rests heavily on its ability to keep pace with the digital transformation sweeping the aviation industry.

Today’s new aircraft are data-generating machines equipped by OEMs with advanced “health monitoring systems” intended to help operators address maintenance issues before those issues cause delays or cancellations.

Rustom understands the promise of such technology; she actually helped launch health monitoring systems on some Bombardier business jets.

“Everything around big data and predictive analysis and aircraft health monitoring is, for me, completely consequential to where this whole industry is going,” she says. “That is going to become the be all and end all for us.”

Technique already has access to aircraft data via partnerships with airframers and other OEMs; that data complements broader repair order data collected by AJW Group, she says.

Rustom intends to “infuse the business with people that have a digital mindset” – scientists and experts in technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning, for instance.

“We are getting to grips with our data and starting to test some of the ways we can make the data very meaningful in the business,” she says. “If you are not in it, you are not going to survive.”

Story updated on 21 November after AJW revised revenue figures it had previously provided to FlightGlobal. The company now says Technique’s annual revenue is about $74 million, not $80 million, and it projects 10% revenue growth in 2020, not 20%.