The voluntarist strategic policy of the Thai government over the past two years to develop the country's aerospace industry is taking shape. Rolls-Royce and Thai Airways have unveiled their agreement to explore how the two companies will work together to expand the Trent engine family's MRO network.
The idea is to develop Thai Airways existing engine shop facility located at Bangkok Don Mueang airport to meet its growing needs, but not only. More than half of the fleet of Thailand's flag carrier, consisting mainly of wide body aircraft, is powered by Rolls-Royce (A330-300, 777-200 / 200ER, 777-300, A350 and A380). Only its 777-300ERs, its 747-400s, its A320s and its unique 737-400 are not powered by the British engine manufacturer.
Thai Airways intends to gradually expand the repair capacity of its engine shop, initially with an investment of about one billion Thai Baht ($ 31 million), which will allows it to meet its own MRO requirements. This initial phase will provide an increase in capacity as of next year with the objective of 30 Trent engines serviced, especially on the Trent 700 (A330) and the Trent 1000 (787). Rolls-Royce will provide training for mechanics and technical assistance.
But a second, more ambitious phase, possibly taking the form of a new joint venture company, could be created to further develop the capabilities of the new Rolls-Royce Certified Maintenance Center (AMC) in Thailand, with an objective of 70 to 80 engines serviced per year for the next three years. Thai's facilities will then target others operators in the region as part of the Trent CareNetwork, complementing Singapore's capabilities for example.
Thai Airways estimates that the new capability of its engine shop in Don Mueang will generate an additional turnover of 5 billion Thai Baht ($150 million) by 2020.
Earlier this year, Rolls-Royce also signed an agreement with Thai to use Don Mueang's engine testing facilities to support the Trent XWB program. The maturity and cyclic testing on the engine carried out at this facility will help to provide a fuller understanding of engine performance over a sustained period of operation.