U.S.-African MRO Initiative Takes Flight

Ethiopian Airlines signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with UTD and AFRAA to join the BCI venture earlier month..
Credit: Ethiopian Airlines

Ethiopian Airlines has joined the Brown Condor Initiative (BCI), which aims to make it easier for North American carriers to access maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) support in Africa.

BCI was originally launched in May 2021 by the African Airlines Association (AFRAA) and New York-headquartered MRO and spare-parts specialist United Aviation Solutions (UTD). The initiative aims to tackle US MRO capacity shortages, while also developing Africa’s aviation industry and better-managing parts supplies.

“The BCI project is aimed at providing a platform for AFRAA members with maintenance repair and overhaul (MRO) facilities to relieve the US MRO workforce crunch, in terms of both facilities and manpower constraints, as well as support other airlines from USA in MRO services and aircraft spares,” the partners said.

On April 21, key African MRO player Ethiopian Airlines signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with UTD and AFRAA to join the BCI venture.

“This MoU with UTD and AFRAA is in line with our plan to increase our market reach and build our presence in North America and tap into the big potential market in the region,” newly appointed Ethiopian Airlines Group CEO Mesfin Tassew said.

AFRAA secretary general Abdérahmane Berthé described the Ethiopian MoU as a “significant milestone,” which will help operationalize the Brown Condor project. 

“We look forward to onboarding other AFRAA airlines, with EASA- or FAA-certified MRO capabilities, onto this project,” Berthé said. AFRAA represents 44 African airlines, accounting for over 85% of total international traffic carried by the continent’s airlines.

UTD CEO Dahir Mohammed previously suggested that key targets for involvement in the BCI project would be the MRO arms of four major African carriers, EgyptAir, Ethiopian Airlines, Kenya Airways and South African Airways (SAA). 

As part of the initiative, AFRAA and UTD have created an online platform to connect AFRAA member airlines with potential customers in the US, including US airlines, MROs, OEMS, distributors and other US civil aviation players.

This platform will also be used to manage spare parts supplies among the AFRAA member airlines, creating an inventory of surplus used serviceable materials (USM).

The Brown Condor initiative is named after Colonel John Robinson, an early African American fighter pilot. Robinson became known as ‘the Brown Condor of Ethiopia.’

Victoria Moores

Victoria Moores joined Air Transport World as our London-based European Editor/Bureau Chief on 18 June 2012. Victoria has nearly 20 years’ aviation industry experience, spanning airline ground operations, analytical, journalism and communications roles.