AMES prepares to fill nacelle maintenance niche
Nacelle manufacturer Aircelle is here in Dubai celebrating the creation of Aerostructure Middle East Services (AMES), a 50-50 joint venture with maintenance specialist Air France Industries to provide nacelle maintenance. Located in the Jebel Ali free zone, the 107,000-sq-ft facility will be open to Airbus A320s, A330s, A340s and A380s early next year. It also will offer to service Boeing 777s and regional jets, Yves Leclère, executive v-p in charge of the aircraft equipment branch at Safran, Aircelle’s parent company, told AIN.
Groundbreaking for the facility, a $5 million investment, took place on September 15. Completion of the building is planned for December 31. The company expects to employ 30 people by 2013.
A primary objective of the joint venture is to have the capability to repair A380 engine nacelles. “They are the biggest ones in air transport and are made of composites; maintaining them thus requires a proprietary process,” Leclère said. Safran’s business in the region is planned to increase significantly with A380 deliveries. “If you add the landing gear, brakes and wires to the nacelles, Safran has $15 million worth of products on an A380,” he pointed out.
“Middle Eastern customers are keen on passenger comfort and flight punctuality, which should translate, for us, into flawless aftersale services,” Leclère noted. Hence, he envisions a need for onsite presence or immediate reaction from a mobile team. Safran plans soon to announce a major contract to install Messier-Bugatti carbon brakes on several dozen new Boeing 737s for a Middle Eastern carrier. The Middle East is expected to account for 10 percent of Safran’s sales in aircraft equipment by 2014.
Safran’s aircraft equipment branch is continuing with a research-and-technology maturation program–Amperes–on the more-electric aircraft concept. “We want to be ready to support Airbus and Boeing if they develop new narrowbodies around 2015,” he said. The Amperes program thus aims at a full demonstration of an electric landing gear in 2012 or 2013. The landing gear is seen as the most difficult piece of equipment for electric power to replace hydraulics, due to its size and weight.