AAR is taking over the facility occupied by Aeroframe through Aug. 9. The 520,000-sq.-ft. facility will provide capacity-constrained AAR with nearly one-third more space and enable it to expand into the widebody aircraft market.
The five-year lease, with three additional five-year options, was signed with Chennault International Airport Authority of Lake Charles, La., and did not include any transactions with Aeroframe, according to Dany Kleiman, AAR’s aviation services group vice president-repair and engineering.
Kleiman says AAR initiated the process to obtaincertification for the Chennault facility and he hopes to start operating there in the next few weeks. “We don’t want to sit around for months.”
As of Aug. 9, AAR had started recruiting locally and plans to employ 250 people initially, but intends to grow that workforce to 500 by 2017. Part of that expansion will stem from a 118,000-sq.-ft. facility under construction that will be big enough to accommodate the.
Kleiman says most of AAR’s current widebody MRO work is for—mainly at the company’s Miami and Indianapolis facilities—but the company would like to add other aircraft—such as the Airbus , , , A380, and 787—to its future platform.
He did not disclose how many of the nearly 5 million annual airframe maintenance man-hours are devoted to widebody work, but he says most come in as part of nose-to-tail contracted lines. “Five, and soon six lines, provides flexibility and some drop-in capability,” he adds.
During a July 25 analysts call, Aviation Week reported that AAR’s CEO David Storch said: “We have some space, we can accommodate some additional demand, but we couldn’t accommodate a dramatic requirement as we sit here today.”
Storch also said additional growth could come from widebody MRO services and expanding the company’s international business.
When asked what other facilities AAR considered before selecting the one at Lake Charles, Kleiman told Aviation Week that “it’s widely know what’s out there,” and “we are constantly searching in the U.S. and overseas” to fulfill AAR’s strategic goals and provide competitive solutions.
Commenting about the next MRO expansion, Kleiman says it could be “not too far in the future.”
A key part of Aeroframe’s appeal was the widebody infrastructure and the experienced workforce needed to support it, says Kleiman. “It’s important to find that right combination.”
Kleiman notes that the agreement with Chennault airport was crafted in less than six weeks. “It was very active and proactive on both sides” he says.