ST Aerospace adds freighter conversion capacity.


ST Aerospace will add another passenger-to-freighter (PTF) conversion line this year, bringing its global total to six.

The fifth line was commissioned in August 2010. Since the 2007 award to the Singapore-based MRO provider of the single largest freighter-conversion contract from FedEx, covering 87 Boeing 757s, ST Aerospace has redelivered 31 of the aircraft to the customer.

The company has also secured supplemental type certificates (STCs) for 757 conversions from the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) and Transport Canada. Both certificates were developed based on ST Aerospace’s existing US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval.

ST Aerospace PTF capability covers Boeing 727, 757-200, 767-300 and MD-11 models, as well as the McDonnell Douglas DC10. The company has done seven 767 PTF conversions for Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways (ANA).

According to ST Aerospace president Chang Cheow Teck, over the next two years more 767 aircraft will become available for freighter conversion as Boeing’s new 787 Dreamliner enters service. “Being the only Boeing-approved conversion centre for 767 aircraft, we are preparing for an influx of 767 PTF conversions,” Chang says.

ST Aerospace has completed 62 MD-11 PTF conversions – more than any other service provider. Chang believes that there will be a decline in future MD-11 PTF demand, with few passenger versions of the aircraft left in the market.

The Singaporean company offers heavy-maintenance capability for all Boeing and Airbus commercial aircraft currently in service, except the A380, as well as some military types. With hangar space accommodating as many as 28 widebody and 39 narrowbody aircraft, ST Aerospace has been ranked for the fourth time as the world’s largest airframe MRO service provider.

The company also offers MRO capabilities for 25,000 commercial and military aircraft components. Chang says the company’s components business continues to grow in Europe and these capabilities are being expanded.

ST Aerospace’s Madrid-based landing-gear joint venture with Iberia Maintenance, which was set up in late 2008, secured FAA certification in January. It is the only certified FAA Part 145 certificated MRO station in Spain that specialises in Airbus A340, A330 and A320 aircraft landing gear.

ST Aerospace’s engine-maintenance capabilities are focused on the CFM56 family and Pratt & Whitney JT8D powerplants. The company has been appointed by General Electric (GE) Aviation Services to provide global on-wing support over 20years for GEnx-1B and GEnx-2B turbofans, which power Boeing’s new 787 and 747-8 aircraft.

ST Aerospace joins the ranks of the few GE-approved vendors in the world offering MRO services for these powerplants.

The company now carries out engine MRO work at its facility in Singapore. However, it is currently investing in the construction of a new engine MRO facility in Xiamen, China, which is expected to be operational at the end of 2011. Chang says the Xiamen facility will complement the Singapore engine facility and enhance its ability to provide integrated MRO solutions.

Also in China, ST Aerospace is shaping an airframe MRO joint venture in Guangzhou, in partnership with Guangdong Airport Management Corp is taking shape. This venture will focus on providing maintenance up to D-check level for Airbus and Boeing aircraft types. Chang points out that Guangzhou is an aviation hub in the region, adding that the new facility, which is to open next year, will be operated and managed as part of ST Aerospace’s global network.

During the global downturn, airlines and freight carriers were forced to cut excess capacity, parking aircraft at a rate not seen since the 11 September 2001 terrorist attacks. At the height of the recession in April 2009, reports indicated that there were 2,302 aircraft in storage.

“The MRO industry saw a decrease in sales as a result of reduced work available,” Chang says. The parked aircraft included many Boeing 757 and 767 models, as well as older, less efficient types such as 747-200/300s, DC-10s, DC-9s and 727s.

“Presently, with the recovery of the aviation industry, reports have indicated that more than 200 [of those] aircraft are back in service,” Chang says. He predicts that more 757s and 767s will return to service.

Despite the recovery in travel and air-freight demand, the MRO market has not yet recovered, as it typically lags behind any pick-up in airline capacity. Chang says the time lag could be six to 12 months.

A recent study carried out by US-based consultancy AeroStrategy forecast that the MRO market will begin recovering in 2011, with MRO spending expected to hit US$58 billion by 2019, if demand continues to grow and the world’s economies recover from their slump.


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