Russian MRO provider Engineering Holding has opened the first line maintenance station for Sukhoi Superjet 100 (SSJ100) aircraft. Engineering’s sales director Nikita Belykh told Russian Aviation Insider that competition on the SSJ100 maintenance market is heating up as new players appear.
Engineering’s new line station is operated by its subsidiary S7 Engineering at under its own FAP-285 certificate, received in February 2016.
The facility is located at Rostov-on-Don Airport (ROV). Its primary purpose is to provide maintenance services to SSJ100s operated by a start-up airline called Azimut, Belykh told Russian Aviation Insider.
A spokesman for Azimut also confirmed that the airline had considered various options, but Engineering’s offer had won the contract. “S7 Engineering has all the technical capabilities, it exercises a very responsible approach and has an extensive experience in this business,” he said.
At the same time, he said, once the airline repositions to Rostov’s new airport called Platov, when it becomes operational in December this year, it will open an in-house maintenance facility for its fleet of SSJ100s. The current co-operation with S7 Engineering is necessary to train Azimut’s own technical personnel.
Working with SSJ100 operators has its specifics, Engineering’s Belykh revealed. Operators of Western-built aircraft typically try to find a compromise between time and cost of work, when it comes to maintenance. In case of SSJ100 costs are an unrivaled priority.
“In part, the reason for that may be in the way operators choose their MRO provider. Most SSJ100 operators are state-owned entities. So when it comes to finding a provider they have to conduct a tender. And a tender is primarily about the cost,” he explained.
Since obtaining all the approvals in February 2016 S7 Engineering has done 24 base checks on SSJ100s for Russian carriers: Red Wings, IrAero, Gazpromavia and Yamal as well as for the ministry of emergency situations.
The latest contract for Yamal included preparing three SSJ100s for returning to the lessor after their leasing terms expired. “In this case the work wasn’t so extensive, it was largely equivalent to an A-check,” Nikita Belykh commented. The most labor-intensive contract we’ve done was a C-check with an array of options for one of SSJ100 operators. We do works of any complexity, according to maintenance manuals, airworthiness directives and service bulletins. We also have extensive experience in complex structure repairs and non-destructive control with cutting-edge equipment.”
S7 Engineering employs a sufficient number of staff to cater for SSJ100 line maintenance and base maintenance on two aircraft simultaneously. “Having an in-house training center is definitely a plus, because we constantly train new specialists and upgrade the existing staff,” Belykh says. He also mentioned that the company has created a pool of spare parts and components to operate maintenance checks independently of the OEM, up to C-checks. It has contracts in place with the line-up of SSJ100 component suppliers and is thus relatively independent of SCAC, but nevertheless is “in constant dialogue with the OEM in search of mutually beneficial forms of cooperation.”
“There are several potential projects that we are discussing with SCAC right now, but we can’t disclose any details. We are genuinely interested in the development of Russian aerospace industry. Based on Engineering’s extensive experience with Western-built aircraft we have consulted SCAC on organizing aftersales and technical support of aircraft. We see the OEM’s continuous efforts in developing and upgrading its aftersales service system to be in line with global standards,” Nikita Belykh says. “Nevertheless, there are still some things, well thought out within the production process, but not regulated in terms of operations or maintenance. I am sure these details will be history soon, when a large number of aircraft go through one full life-cycle, from entering service to returning back to lessor and redelivery to the next operator.”
Notably, S7 Engineering is not the only provider, which entered SSJ100 MRO market in 2016. Last year two more providers were approved for the type, Volga-Dnepr Technics Moscow and Tulpar Technic. On the whole there are now more than ten organizations involved in SSJ100 maintenance presently.
“It is true that the competition in SSJ100 maintenance has heated up recently when new players entered market. We welcome healthy competition. It helps us to continue improving ourselves and our product,” Belykh summed up.
By Artyom Korenyako