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Aviation News Aerostar of Romania shifts from the MiG-21 to the Airbus A320neo

Aerostar of Romania shifts from the MiG-21 to the Airbus A320neo

Léo Barnier in London
18 OCT 2017 | 563 words
Aerostar of Romania shifts from the MiG-21 to the Airbus A320neo
© Aerostar of Romania
It's not easy to re-adapt your strategy when a fifty year old market starts to disappear. But this is what Aerostar of Romania has had to do. The Bacău company is being faced with the gradual removal of the MIG-21 from the Romanian air force's inventory, and so will soon be deprived of its maintenance, as well as the modernisation projects it carried out for the fighter jet from time to time. And for now, the company has no guarantees that it will be able to pick up the maintenance for the F-16, whose delivery is about to be completed. Civilian MRO currently appears to be the most promising alternative.

Until now, Aerostar of Romania's activities had been split between aerostructures (50 %), military MRO (30 %) and civilian MRO (20 %). Aerostructures should remain the company's strong point. The company works with several Rank 1 and 2 suppliers on major contracts. It produces wing shroud box parts for the Airbus A320 and Dassault Falcon 5X and 7X parts for GKN Aerospace. It has also won contracts with Safran Landing Systems for A350 and Boeing 787 landing gears.

The military MRO activity appears to be much more uncertain. Aerostar has carried out no fewer than 350 major inspections on the Romanian MiG-21 fleet, as well as for the fleets of other countries. But these fleets are withering away and Romania is due to abandon its own in favour of 12 F-16s purchased second-hand in Portugal. Aerostar is a candidate for the maintenance of these new planes, but nothing has yet been decided. At the same way, the fleet's final size is not yet known, which is preventing any precise forecasts.

Finally, Aerostar can count on MiG-21 modification projects, such as the LancER. Once again, there are no guarantees that the same will also apply for the F-16, even if the company thinks that it will be entrusted with maintenance for the fleet.


MiG-21 LancER during major inspection in Bacău. © Aerostar of Romania

Civilian MRO to make up for military

To enable it to cope with these uncertainties, Aerostar seems to have decided to reposition its activities to favour civilian MRO. At the end of September, the company announced a 49-year lease for a 16 000 m2 hanger at Iași (north eastern Romania). This future facility, which will be able to accommodate up to 4 medium-haul planes, is due to open in summer 2019.

This will enable Aerostar to strengthen its major inspection capacity by 40%. At the moment, the company's activities are concentrated in Bacău, where it carried out 80 C- and D-Checks on single-aisle planes in 2016, and 53 for the first nine months of 2017.

Aerostar of Romania will also be increasing its capacities in terms of the types of plane. The company will remain solely centred on the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 families, but will gradually integrate new re-engined generations. It is due to receive extension of its Part 145 from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for the A320neo on 1st April 2018. A first maintenance check will then be carried out for the Turkey's Pegasus Airlines.

For the moment, Aerostar does not have an agreement in progress for the 737 MAX, but this is in the pipeline. Management could make a decision on this soon.
Léo Barnier
Specialized journalist
Industry & Technology, Equipments, MRO


 
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