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Aviation News MRO Middle East: Interview with Alexandre Mule, Co-General Manager of Aerostructures Middle East Services (AMES)

MRO Middle East: Interview with Alexandre Mule, Co-General Manager of Aerostructures Middle East Services (AMES)

Interview by Romain Guillot in Dubai
01 FEB 2018 | 1059 words
MRO Middle East: Interview with Alexandre Mule, Co-General Manager of Aerostructures Middle East Services (AMES)
Safran Nacelles
Le Journal de l'Aviation was in Dubai for MRO Middle East exhibition which was held on 23rd and 24th January. This provided us with the opportunity to meet Alexandre Mule, Co-General Manager of Aerostructures Middle East Services (AMES), the joint-venture which is 50-50 owned by Air France-KLM (via AFI KLM E&M) and Safran Nacelles. Alexandre Mule shares the management of AMES with Thierry Baud.

How was AMES created in Dubai?

This company opened on 1st March 2010. Our objective at the time was to provide MRO services for engine nacelles. Safran Nacelles is the OEM for this type of product on many Airbus aircraft and the advantage of this JV was that it provided Air France Industries with additional capabilities in relation to those of Safran Nacelles, for example by providing maintenance for nacelles which weren't manufactured by Safran. These shared interests and technical advantages led to the opening of the shop in 2010 and we developed capabilities on a wide range of nacelles, for both Airbus and Boeing aircraft. This was the first step.

We then had the opportunity to develop new types of product, by extending to radomes and other composite aerostructure elements, slats, flaps and so on. In fact, the composite repair skills acquired on aircraft engine nacelles, in particular with the support of Safran Nacelles which is also a Safran group Composites Centre of Excellence, and the support of AFI KLM E&M, enabled is to use these capabilities on other products where ultimately the same skills are required.

AMES is the spearhead for our two parent companies, Safran and Air France, in the region. The engineering, lease pool, Customer support centre and 24/7 call support services are all provided by our two parent companies and our role is to provide this MRO activity for customers in the Middle East and the Indian subcontinent. In fact, in the end we are the visible part of an iceberg for an expanded Middle East which extends as far as Sri Lanka.

You have just announced the repair of fourteen radomes for five airlines thanks to a large autoclave...

We have brought in an autoclave which is three meters in diameter and which until now had been used by Air France Industries at Le Bourget. This autoclave has been operational since the first half of 2016 and is now the only one in the region available for an MRO station. The objective was to extend our aerostructure repair capabilities. This has been a success, as since the operational start-up of the autoclave, five airlines have already placed their trust in us for Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 radomes. The pathway is that we acquire technical skills for nacelles and then use these skills on other products.

What volume does this represent?

For large elements, we have about sixty which go out every year, so just over one a week. We are also looking at how we can develop new capabilities while remaining in the spirit of using our composite repair skills. We are seeing more and more that market demand is high for this type of skill related to new generation aircraft which are using more and more composite mass. The fact that we can both carry out repairs ourselves and send teams out to customers to make repairs on site is proving to be a great success for us.

The sector has been experiencing a certain slow-down over the last few years in the Middle East. How do you feel about it today?

Like everybody, we have observed the financial challenges which are being encountered by airlines in the region. What we are also seeing is that this can enable us to show airlines that by working with a structure like ours, which is certainly a little more flexible than in-house shops, they can make savings on their maintenance. We can provide them with solutions to reduce their maintenance costs. We understand that this is important today, and more important than it was a few years ago. This is an opportunity which will enable us to provide them with even more innovative services to help them. In particular, we can work with them in their own facilities. This avoids any logistical constraints and transport costs. It is time to propose turnkey systems where we arrive, inspect the equipment, carry out the repair and issue the release. This is typical of the type of activity that we can develop and it's something that operators are starting to take a close look at.

You have just signed two contracts during the MRO Middle East exhibition. Can you tell us more about them?

Of course, and this is perfectly in keeping with the assistance we provide to airlines to help them optimise their costs. Safran Nacelles has signed two support contracts. The first one is with Egyptair for the A330 Trent 700 programme where we will be providing maintenance for their thrust reversers and the second is with Kuwait Airways to provide complete maintenance for their Trent 700 nacelles. AMES will take charge of the operational aspects of both of these contracts.

The single-aisle fleet will be changing considerably over the next few years and obviously this is going hand in hand with the epic Dubai South project. Will this bring opportunities for AMES too?

This is good news for us as we are based near DWC (Dubai World Central). This will bring us closer to our customers. As for the single-aisle fleet which is due to expand, we have a significant market ahead of us with the A320neos equipped with LEAP-1As, as Safran is producing the complete nacelle. Naturally, for all the repairs and maintenance on these products, AMES will make sure that we are competitive with operators thanks to our OEM affiliate status.

India has a lot of re-engined narrobodies which will be reaching fleets over the next few years...

Yes, with the different announcements for A320neos powered by the LEAP-1A engine, this is a huge market. We are already working in India, for radomes for a particular Indian airline and we already have existing commercial flows. This is a region which will become increasingly important for us in the future.
Romain Guillot
Chief editor
Cofounder of Journal de l'Aviation and Alertavia

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