Korean Air to open engine MRO cluster in 2027

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Korean Air-engine Maintenance
(IMAGE: Korean Air)

MRO DubaiKorean Air has started construction of an aircraft engine maintenance cluster in Unbuk, near Incheon International Airport, which is slated to open in 2027. The new engine maintenance complex will be the largest in Asia, and will bolster the airline’s aircraft engine maintenance capabilities and fortify its aviation MRO business.

The airline held a groundbreaking ceremony on March 14, attended by Walter Cho, Chairman and CEO of Korean Air; Sung-kyu Maeng, Committee Member of the National Assembly’s Committee on Land, Infrastructure and Transport; June-young Bae, Congressman of Jung-gu District, Incheon; Jeong-bok Yoo, Mayor of Incheon Metropolitan City; Won-sok Yun, Commissioner of the Incheon Free Economic Zone; and Jong-il Kim, CEO of Kolon Global Corporation.

“The engine is like the heart of the airplane,” said Cho at the groundbreaking ceremony. “Korean Air pledges to uphold the highest standards of safety, and is committed to elevating Korea’s competitive edge in a highly specialised sector of aviation.”

The new engine maintenance plant features seven levels spanning more than 140,000 square metres. The construction of the 578 billion won facility will be undertaken by Kolon Global, and will be strategically constructed adjacent to the existing Engine Test Cell (ETC) that the airline has operated since 2016.

Korean Air has previously managed its engine maintenance at its Bucheon facility, complemented by final performance testing at the ETC in Unbuk. The engine maintenance cluster will streamline this process with a strategic consolidation, enhancing operational efficiency by bringing all phases of engine maintenance to a single, centralised site.

Korean Air is also set to significantly enhance its aircraft engine maintenance capability from servicing 100 engines to 360 annually, across a broader spectrum of engine types. Currently, the airline conducts overhauls on six engine models, including Pratt & Whitney’s PW4000 and GTF; CFM International’s CFM56; and General Electric’s GE90-115B. The expansion includes adding three more engine models to its portfolio, including GE’s GEnx and CFMI’s LEAP-1B. The airline is also exploring the possibility of servicing Asiana Airlines’ engines, including the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB used in the Airbus A350.

The new maintenance cluster is expected to generate over 1,000 new jobs to bolster the domestic aviation MRO industry’s competitiveness and reduce dependence on international maintenance services.

Korean Air is the sole operator of specialised facilities for civilian aircraft engine overhauls in South Korea. The airline began overhauling Boeing 707 aircraft engines in 1976, and has since rebuilt nearly 5,000 engines and supplied engines to other airlines, including its subsidiary Jin Air, as well as international carriers like Delta Air Lines and China Southern Airlines.

The airline’s maintenance quality has earned recognition from numerous reputable bodies. Korean Air holds airworthiness certifications from 13 domestic and international authorities, including the Korean Federal Aviation Administration, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC).

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