It's a deal! Airbus and Thai Airways International (THAI) have officially announced the agreement for the creation of a joint-venture dedicated to maintenance, a project which was created thanks to the Thai government's desire to develop its aviation industry a few years ago.
The agreement was signed in Toulouse on 22nd June by Usanee Sangsingkeo, interim President of THAI and by Eric Schulz, Commercial Director of Airbus, in the presence of Prayut Chan-o-cha, the Prime Minister of Thailand and Guillaume Faury, President of Airbus Commercial Aircraft.
As planned, this huge MRO centre will be based at U-Tapao airport, 150 km to the south east of Bangkok and at the heart of Thailand's eastern economic corridor (EEC). This facility, which is dedicated to base and line maintenance for all widebody aircraft types, will be one of the most modern and one of the largest in Asia-Pacific. It will have the latest digital technologies to analyse aircraft maintenance data, along with advanced inspection techniques, including the use of drones to monitor aircraft airframes.
The new U-Tapao MRO centre will also have specialised repair shops, in particular for composite structures, and will host a training centre for technical personnel from Thailand and overseas.
According to the Thai Prime Minister, the new U-Tapao maintenance complex could be operational from 2022.
U-Tapao international airport, located near the resort town of Pattaya, shares its facilities with the Royal Thai Air Force and the Royal Thai Navy. U-Tapao was notably one of the main air bases for the US Air Force during the Vietnam War, hosting numerous B-52s. For example, the platform took part in the intense bombing campaigns organised during the battle of Khe Sanh in 1968. The airport is now open to commercial flights.
The announcement of the creation of the joint-venture between Airbus and THAI comes only 15 days after the announcement by Thai Airways and Rolls-Royce to extend maintenance capacity for the British engine manufacturer's approved network on Trent engines from the Thai airline's engine shop facility at Don Mueang (read the article: How Thai Airways will Expand Rolls-Royce's Trent Engine Service Network).