Le Bourget Remembered

It was not nice or pleasant. Paris Airshow was a nightmare of endurance for exhibitors and visitors alike. Security led to individual body searches by security guards – and their numbers fell woefully short of the numbers required for the job, especially during the early morning rush.

Even the show itself has become an endurance challenge in order to download volumes of information rather than a celebration of the air. Andrew Drwiega presents some of the relevant MRO news.

Jean Marc Janaillac, chairman and CEO began the Air France Industries KLM Engineering & Maintenance (AFI KLM E&M) press conference staged during the Paris Airshow with the observation that the MRO market was still expanding “but is competitive putting pressure on margins.” He added that the new generation of aircraft meant an investment strategy to improve the organisation’s IT systems would be implemented.

Anne Brachet, executive vice president agreed: “We foresee a pressure on the margin due to competition” but that new platforms such as the A350, 787, A320Neo, 737 Max and the new GEnx engine gave an opportunity for the development of different services. “Digital is key – everyone is talking about it,” she said.

One of the major announcements made by AFI KLM E&M was its partnership with Rolls-Royce in its CareNetwork. With 25 aircraft on order and options for a further 25, the Air France KLM group will be a major operator of the A350 powered by the Trent XWB. The maintenance of these engines will be entrusted to AFI KLM E&M. In addition, AFI KLM E&M and Rolls-Royce will extend their cooperation to the sphere of repairs on Rolls-Royce engine parts and components.

Air France KLM will be supported under a long-term service support agreement with Rolls-Royce, while Rolls-Royce will support Air France Industries KLM Engineering & Maintenance to implement Trent XWB engine overhaul capability in Paris.

First repairs to be implemented by AFI KLM E&M are Trent 1000 LPC shaft and IPC front stub shafts, and Trent 1000/Trent XWB tiled combustion chambers.

Eric Schulz, Rolls-Royce, president – Civil Aerospace, said: “We are delighted that Air France KLM opted for the A350 and the Trent XWB for their long-haul operations. This agreement paved the way for AFI KLM E&M to develop capabilities on Trent XWB MRO. We welcome them as part of the Rolls-Royce CareNetwork.”

Anne Brachet, executive vice president, AFI KLM E&M added: “We are delighted to join the CareNetwork. Thanks to the engineering capabilities and repairs that we will be developing in partnership with Rolls-Royce, we will bring greater value for the Trent engines products, destined for a long and brilliant career.”

Additional announcements made by AFI KLM E&M a cabin modification with Air Mauritius covering Part 21 cabin modifications to six Airbus aircraft in the Air Mauritius fleet: two A319, two A330-200 and two A340-300. Also a partnership agreement with Sabena technics to establish a joint venture to support A320 and ATR component repairs in Singapore’s new Seletar aviation cluster.

Inmarsat Partners with Airbus Over EAN

Inmarsat announced a strategic partnership for its new European Aviation Network (EAN) inflight broadband service with Airbus at Le Bourget. Airbus will offer airlines a specialist retrofit solution to deploy EAN on the entire A320 family of aircraft, including A319s, A320s and A321s.

A warm welcome for visitors to Le Bourget, but not one that they care to remember.  (Photo: Andrew Drwiega)
A warm welcome for visitors to Le Bourget, but not one that they care to remember. (Photo: Andrew Drwiega)

The agreement marks a further milestone in the development of EAN; the world’s first dedicated aviation connectivity solution to combine space-based and ground-based networks to deliver a seamless WiFi experience for airline passengers throughout Europe. It follows a separate announcement earlier this year that International Airlines Group (IAG), the parent company of Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia and Vueling, will be the launch customer for EAN. IAG has begun equipping its aircraft and aims to have 90 percent of its short haul fleet complete by early 2019.

EAN is based on an infrastructure which brings together a dedicated S-band satellite and complementary ground network, to offer a fully integrated and seamless network that delivers the service quality and performance assurance not offered by satellite only providers.

The network, which is on course to commence commercial services in the second half of 2017, also delivers passenger WiFi technology to Europe. Inmarsat’s strategic partner Deutsche Telekom is currently constructing the ground network.

Airbus Retrofit Solution

The Airbus retrofit solution consists of modification kits with all cabin network equipment required for EAN deployment. It also includes service bulletins (SBs) that detail the tasks and materials needed for installation and also certify the airworthiness of related modification work.

Airlines can procure the new solution directly through Airbus or Inmarsat, with both partners forecasting that more than 750 aircraft could be retrofitted with EAN over the next three years.

The partnership with Airbus marks a further key achievement for EAN. In addition to its function as an inflight broadband solution, the agreement also contains provisions for airlines to utilise EAN for advanced aircraft maintenance and operations management, leading to increased efficiencies and important cost reductions.

Leo Mondale, Inmarsat Aviation president, said: “Our partnership with Airbus will offer clear advantages to airlines operating the popular A320 family aircraft. They will gain access to the new gold standard in passenger inflight broadband with a retrofit solution that comes from the aircraft manufacturer itself and has been specifically designed for ease-of-use. In addition to EAN’s function as a high-speed inflight broadband service, our collaborative agreement with Airbus also opens the doors to streaming data on the aircraft maintenance and operations side.

New Digital Solutions from UTC for Order Tracking

UTC Aerospace Systems has introduced a suite of digital solutions that are accessible through a new customizable, self-service portal—a one-stop shop for parts and services. To enable this, UTC optimizied internal processes using smart data to proactively manage MRO customer commitments.

The digital customer experience and accompanying secured portal are the result of collaboration between UTC Aerospace Systems and United Technologies Digital.

“We have made significant investments over the last year to achieve our current 97 percent on-time repair performance. Our new suite of digital solutions was developed to take our performance and responsiveness to the next level,” said aftermarket vice president Ajay Agrawal.

UTC Aerospace Systems repairs more than 400,000 aircraft components each year, and over 50 MRO facilities around the globe The new digital solutions suite was developed in collaboration with key customers. It will allow UTC offer customers better interfaces with the company that should increase reliability and transparency around order and shipping status, as well as improving responsiveness and consistency in customer service around the globe.

UTC Aerospace Systems expects all customers and MRO sites will be migrated to the new customer service platform by 2018.

Satair Sign Safran Nacelles Agreement

Satair Group signed its first major contract with Safran Nacelles, covering global lifetime supply chain services for engine nacelle parts and components used on Airbus A340-500/600 jetliners.

The Satair Group has now assumed responsibility over Safran Nacelles’ entire supply chain for the A340 nacelle elements, carrying out support duties through the lifetimes of the four-engine aircraft. There are currently 90 A340-500/600s in operation, and Satair Group estimates the aircraft type will remain in service beyond 2030.

A physical transfer of Safran Nacelles’ A340 nacelle parts inventory has been made from the company’s Paris support center to Satair Group’s Copenhagen facility. Safran Nacelles will continue a direct working relationship with its A340 customers for overall customer support, nacelle maintenance and repair (MRO) services – as well as engineering support.

“This agreement with Satair Group, on the entire supply chain for this legacy nacelle program, enables us to focus on our utmost mission as a nacelle designer and integrator for current and future programs, while also maintaining our MRO and technical support provided to A340 operators,” explained Safran Nacelles CEO Jean Paul Alary. “With Satair Group, we have found a partner that brings its logistic expertise to manage efficiently the supply chain.”

Bart Reijnen, CEO of Satair Group commented: “We look forward to working closely with Safran Nacelles in ensuring the best possible logistics services for its customers, who will benefit from the ability to pool more parts through our efficient supply chain and global distribution.”

Uplifting JacXson

And finally one of the more interesting demonstrations at Le Bourget was the JacXson production and maintenance unit from the eXcent Group. Out on the apron, the company demonstrated the JacXson mobile unit which the company describes as a “precision assembling, mounting and disassembling tool which makes possible to avoid using cranes, maintenance buildings, various lifting and transportation means.”

Demonstrations on the static display showed how easily mechanics could use the unit to help with an engine installation and removal.