In a bid to satisfy the growing demand for aircraft maintenance services in Africa, Ethiopian Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) is planning to open service centers in West and Southern Africa countries.
One of the leading MRO Centers in Africa, Ethiopian MRO, has been providing aircraft maintenance services for African and non-African carries for the past many years. One of the seven business units of Ethiopian Aviation Group, Ethiopian MRO recently has made significant investments on its main service center at the Addis Ababa Bole International Airport.
Mesfin Tasew chief operating officer of Ethiopian Airlines Aviation Group told The Reporter that to satisfy the growing demand for MRO services Ethiopian MRO Services is planning to branch out to other African countries. “We have a plan to establish MRO Centers in west and southern Africa,” Mesfin said. Ethiopian MRO Services is contemplating to set up an MRO facility in Blantyre, Malawi where it has a sister airline, Malawian.
“In southern Africa we have customers like TAAG Angola and Malawi Airlines who bring their aircraft all the way to Addis Ababa for maintenance. We are going to establish an airline in Mozambique. It will be cost effective and convenient for them if we establish an MRO Center there.”
Ethiopian MRO Services also anticipates to set up an MRO Center in West Africa. “There is a huge MRO market in West Africa. Nigeria has a big aviation industry. There are several operators in Ghana. We also have ASKY in Togo. So we need to establish an MRO center in either in Lomé, Accra or Lagos where we can provide a better service to the West African market.”
Ethiopian Airlines MRO Services began as a small maintenance center when the national airline started operation in April 1946. The 72 year old airline is one of the oldest in Africa.
The maintenance unit has evolved to become one of the best MRO centers in Africa over the years. Today Ethiopian MRO Services is one of the seven strategic business units of Ethiopian Airlines Aviation Group. Staffed by more than 1500 aircraft maintenance technicians and engineers Ethiopian MRO Services has six aircraft maintenance hangars.
Mesfin said that Ethiopian MRO Services has extensive capabilities. According to him, the MRO center has full repair capability for all Boeing aircraft except the B747 including the B787, B777, B767, B737 Classics and NGs, and B757. “We also have maintenance capability for Airbus A350 aircraft which is a new aircraft and currently we can do minor maintenance but we are developing heavy maintenance capability.”
Ethiopian MRO Services has a full airframe maintenance capability for Bombardier Q400 aircraft. It has a big engine shop that can repair and overhaul the engines that power the B737 aircraft-CFM56-3 and -7. It has a full overhaul capability on the engine that powers the Q400- P and W 150A. In addition to that it has modular capabilities for PW4000, and PW 2000 engines. “We also have capabilities for auxiliary power units (APUs) that are installed on B767 and B737 fleet.”
Ethiopian MRO Services runs shops that can repair close to 1000 different types of components of various types of aircraft models. “In addition to repair capabilities, we have some engineering capability to develop some modifications on aircraft,” Mesfin said.
According to Mesfin, Ethiopian MRO Services has an ambitious plan to develop additional capabilities on new engine models and additional components.
Ethiopian Airlines has invested a lot of money to develop the capabilities of its MRO Services particularly on the infrastructure side. The center has six maintenance hangars four of them with close door and the two hangars were inaugurated recently. Ethiopian has invested 100 million dollars to build the two new hangars and associated infrastructure. One of these hangars has full paint capability.
The two new hangars that lie on 16,000sq.m of land each has the capability to house the biggest aircraft B747-8 aircraft. Each hangar can accommodate two B787 or four B737s at the same time.
Ethiopian MRO Services primarily serves the growing fleet of the national airline. Currently, Ethiopian operates close to 100 aircraft and it has more than 60 aircraft on its order book.
Ethiopian MRO Services also provides aircraft engineering and maintenance services for other airlines. A number of airlines from sub-Saharan African countries are customers of Ethiopian MRO Services. “The traditional way was for customer airlines to bring their aircraft, engines and components to Addis Ababa and we repair them and send it back. But since recently we have expanded our service to line maintenance service to other airlines at their home base by positioning a group of technicians,” Mesfin said.
The revenue Ethiopian MRO Services generates from third party business is growing. In 2016-2017 the MRO center generated 45 million USD from third party business. In the Vision 2025, Ethiopian MRO Services targets to garner USD 520 million in annual revenue by year 2025.