MRO: A brand new hangar in Bordeaux for Sabena technicsRomain Guillot in Bordeaux
le 28/01/2020 , Maintenance aéronautique
Sabena technics inaugurated its new giant hangar in Bordeaux-Mérignac on January 21, a facility delivered in December and already in service since the beginning of the year. It will meet the needs of the growing fleet of wide-body aircraft in Europe.
Named Hangar HH, this new 10 000 m2 building can accommodate one Airbus A350-1000 or one Boeing 777-9 (the stretched version of the 777X family), two intermediate capacity wide-body aircraft such as the A330-200 (in head-to-tail position), up to three A400Ms or six A320 narrow-body aircraft at the same time. 25 million Euro has been invested in the project which was launched three years ago.
This sixth hangar increases to 100 000 m2 the floor space of all the technical installations occupied by Sabena technics at Bordeaux-Mérignac, which is also the main site for the leading French independent MRO. It provides a response to the needs of the growing fleet of wide-body aircraft in Europe, whether for base maintenance operations or for cabin modification work.
During the inauguration ceremony, the new hangar was occupied by one Airbus A330-200 from Ireland's Aer Lingus on heavy maintenance (C-Check) since 6th January and by one French Air Force C-130H Hercules. This provided the opportunity to mark the balance that Sabena technics has always maintained between the civilian and military markets, a situation which is unparalleled in the airframe MRO sector in Europe.
Philippe Rochet, the President of Sabena technics, also has major ambitions for its HH hangar, with an objective of some 200 000 production hours per year. Recruitments will be needed to keep up with this high level of activity, with around 150 people to be hired in 2020 and the same number next year. Around a thousand people are employed across the whole Mérignac maintenance site.
We have to say that Sabena technics is right to be confident, given its clear view over the use of its maintenance capacities in the coming months. "We have just signed a contract this morning and the site now doesn't have a single slot available before March 2021", said Philippe Rochet. Even better, for cabin modification projects alone, there is now a steady stream of contracts extending to mid-2022, with projects already scheduled beyond this.
On this point, one Air France A330-200 was already sitting outside the hangars (MSN 584), an aircraft reconfigured with the new BEST cabins by Sabena technics as an integrator. "This aircraft is finished and will be put back into service over the coming days, and will then be replaced by another one", explained Sabena technics' president, who also goes on to say that this programme will be completed at the end of March and that other programmes on other types of aircraft will then be launched, in particular for Air France (on a certain number of 777s).
Philippe Rochet also reminded his audience that the three main European aviation groups were regular customers of Sabena technics facilities, even if Lufthansa, Air France-KLM and to a certain extent IAG (with Iberia) groups each have their own maintenance facilities in Europe.
Note that the hangar has one specific feature in that it is wide open on the side to accommodate the nose section of an aircraft, which may then be connected directly to the mezzanine in order to modify a cabin without taking up space inside. It is also equipped with numerous working and meeting rooms upstairs under the mezzanine, as well as with stores on the ground (spare parts and consumables).
"This hangar has been designed to take a 777X with the wingtips deployed. We have set ourselves up to handle the largest of the future wide-body aircraft on the market", Philippe Rochet emphasised to us, adding that there had been major constraints involved for the building, given its size and its location on the site. "The roof is 25 metres tall and not one cm more, so that we don't interfere with the airport's ILS signals", he added. For now, British Airways and Lufthansa are the only two European airlines who have committed to Boeing's 777X.
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