PARIS 2015: New E-Jets components deal reinforces AFI KLM E&M growth

Air France Industries-KLM Engineering & Maintenance (AFI KLM E&M) announced that its orderbook grew by 5% between 31 December 2014 to 31 March 2015, primarily driven by its components and engine businesses, a new example of which came with the announcement at Le Bourget of a new deal – through Spairliners, the company’s JV with Lufthansa Technik – to provide component pooling and maintenance expertise for Royal Air Maroc’s fleet of Embraer E-Jets.

AFI KLM E&M executive vice-president Franck Terner (pictured) also reported that the company is on track to open its new aerostructures and composites shop – Helios – at Paris Charles de Gaulle airport in September. The €40 million-plus investment will see all the aerostructures facilities at Le Bourget brought under a single roof to ensure an optimised offering to customers.

The 18,500 m2 building will house 250-300 highly qualified experts. The new aerostructures unit is scheduled for handover during the summer, with personnel taking up occupation in September 2015.

Helios will implement cutting-edge technologies and innovative processes brought by The MRO Lab. “Innovation is central to our development,” said Anne Brachet, EVP Air France Industries. “Developing our MRO Lab in the new facility means, for example, we will be able to deploy new, less environmentally aggressive sanding tools, with less abrasive stripping methods based on pressurised cornstarch blasting, for composites and metals alike.” The use of scanning tools will be developed to check the various surfaces to be treated or repaired.

Hélios will also be equipped with state-of-the-art machining tools for complex work on composite materials, with a hitherto unrivalled degree of precision.

Terner noted that progress with the Perform 2020 programme was taking the company towards its target to “be the benchmark on the market”, as an airline MRO using its leverage in a powerful global network. Last year saw the acquisition of Barfield last year as well as investment in Tradewinds Engine Services plus others, all based in Miami.

New generation products have been added, Terner pointed out. “On the Boeing 787, we have a significant footprint for component support, while on the Airbus A350, we have been working hard and are now offering component support products,” he commented. “Market growth in the component business is running at about 4%. At present we have 5% market share and hope to have 8% by 2020.”

The extended business portfolio also includes engine and aircraft teardown/asset management. “We recertify the parts [from the teardown] as new and it’s a powerful investment. So we are now thinking of buying total aircraft for teardown,” Terner said. “We’ve already been doing some teardown of aircraft at our UK facility. But buying for teardown is a risk management activity. We’ll only buy if there’s a business case and if it’s an aircraft that we already maintain.”

Line maintenance is another growth area with AFI KLM E&M recording sales all around the world. Terner indicated though, that the main goals currently are Africa and China.

Asked about pressure from OEMs with their growing aftermarket capabilities, Terner said AFI KLM E&M has daily discussions with OEMs and that pressure is always there. “OEMs need our power in the market and we need them. It’s about balance in the market and the market does not like imbalance. It prefers an equilibrium,” he concluded.

Bernie Baldwin, editor, Low-Fare & Regional Airlines/
Le Bourget, Paris, France

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