Home' Asian Aviation : AAV Feb 2014 Contents 34 AsianAviation | FEBRUARY 2014
ST Aerospace is part of the CFM56 support
network. "We're already working with OEMs. For us,
if we were to set up new engine capabilities, it would
be as an approved service centre as part of an OEM
network," says Chang.
On the airframe side, both Airbus and Boeing have
made no secret of their ambitions to extend their reach
into the MRO arena - the latter at Boeing Shanghai
Aviation Services in China and the former at Sepang
Aircraft Engineering in Malaysia, for instance.
Chang is much more puzzled by the airframers
strategy than he is for the engine and component
OEMs. "Engines are quite portable, but for airframe
maintenance, you have to be there. For components
it's possible, as in the case of the 787, where one
OEM controls so much of the components. If Boeing
controls an airframe facility, would they have an
advantage on Airbus aircraft? To serve customers
effectively, it is important to develop scale and have
a mixed fleet capability. If an aircraft OEM wishes
to provide total support services, they will still
need to contend with well-established engine and
components OEMs. With airlines already operating
with challenging profit margins, the value-added
incentives provided by airframe OEMs would have
to be technically and financially compelling".
On the recent decision by Airbus to end its
MRO network, he says, "I think as far as Airbus is
concerned, they wanted to control the upstream,
and still work with local players," he says. "For the
ACJ you can control upstream - but airlines are not
VIP customers - they have their legacy engineering
departments to consider as well."
Another challenge posed by latest generation
aircraft is the longer intervals between shop visits.
"We do see that coming," says Chang. "It's one of
the reasons we've been repositioning our businesses
for regional support and lighter checks."
The reduced man hours mean that MRO providers
will have to "bundle" things that the airline operators
would like to see, says Chang, whether its service
bulletin work or aircraft modifications.
Facilities will also have to be more diversified to
do a wide range of mixed fleets from regional jets, to
narrowbodies and widebodies, "You need a bigger
footprint. Rather than just rely on airframes, we
want to be able to supply total aviation support. The
footprint has to add more value. We want to retune
our business. It's about being adaptable and flexible,"
Part of this strategy has been to further establish
itself in the cabin interiors market. In December
2012, it purchased Volant Aerospace to develop its
cabin interior engineering, manufacturing and repair
capabilities. Volant manufactures and refurbishes
cabin products, such as overhead bins, galleys and
Along with the acquisition of DRB Aviation
Consultants, a cabin design consultancy, the Volant
purchase was designed to enable ST Aerospace to
offer pretty much a complete service to airlines on
the cabin interiors front.
This stretches to the manufacturing side - at
last year's Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, the
company launched its premium economy seat
"Ergo", developed in conjunction with Japan's Tenryu
Aero Component Company. Testing to 16g impact
specification is expected to be completed by the time
of the Singapore Air Show.
"It is the beginning of a seat design capability,"
says Chang. ST Aerospace has a capability cluster
called Aerospace Engineering & Manufacturing, with
a mission to get into more products, mainly on the
cabin side. "In a small way we are an OEM," says
Chang. "It's a journey - a small step."
The cabin market is dominated by the likes of
Zodiac, B/E Aerospace and Diehl. "The question is,
in the longer run, whether there is room for more
competitors. We're thinking about this," says Chang.
The company is also doing some product
development on wireless IFE, as well as VIP
completions. All its MRO centres are now part of
the Airbus ACJ service network, and Chang hopes
for a similar arrangement with Boeing for the BBJ.
"It's a work in progress."
ST Aerospace's Seletar hangar
"The footprint has to add more value.
We want to retune our business. It's
about being adaptable and flexible"
CHANG CHEOW TECK
president, ST Aerospace
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