APS Plans New Asia-Pacific Facility as Propeller Work Ramps Up
Aircraft Propeller Service (APS) is growing its Asia-Pacific footprint with a new propeller maintenance contract and plans to open a facility in the region in 2020.
Under the five-year contract APS will provide comprehensive propeller maintenance support to Lion Air Group on 80 ATR 72 turboprops, which are currently operated by its subsidiaries Malindo Air and Wings Air. The airline group operates the world’s largest fleet of ATR 72s, which will increase to 100 turboprops once all of its current orders are delivered.
The exclusive contract will entail support of all propeller overhaul and maintenance, including components such as blades, actuators and hubs. APS says it is the only ATR licensee capable of performing proprietary repairs and inspection processes within the region, and it is actively marketing to turboprop operators to ensure seamless support in conjunction with its partners at Collins Aerospace.
According to Chris Hutchings, director of market development, APS sees itself as “more than just a licensee in the region,” pointing to its previous work providing on wing training for Lion Air Group’s maintenance teams.
“Our highly skilled inspectors have taken the time to teach corrosion prevention, best maintenance practices and on wing repairs along with many other cost saving tips. We understand that APS and our customers enjoy a symbiotic relationship, [and] it’s in our best interest to ensure they keep flying and growing,” he explains. “Training the team seems insignificant at first sight but can save them tens of thousands per year when taught correctly.”
Under the contract, APS will initially provide propeller MRO from its headquarters in Lake Zurich, IL before moving work to the company’s planned Asia-Pacific facility. Hutchings says APS is in the final stages of choosing the facility’s location and it expects to make a decision in early Q1 2020. Once the location is determined, the facility will phase in capability starting with basic inspection capabilities in Q1 2020, followed by full overhaul capabilities on propeller blades later in 2020 and then maintenance and overhaul of all propeller components in Q1 2021.
According to Hutchings, the new Asia-Pacific facility combined with APS’ proprietary repairs and inspection processes will give it a strong competitive advantage in the region.
“We envision our facility being a hub for turboprop operators in the region. Currently, there is minimal propeller support in region, especially for the 568F system on the ATRs. All components requiring overhaul must be sent out of region to an OEM approved facility for proprietary repairs,” explains Hutchings. “Our new facility would mean that APAC operators in most cases would have to ship less than 2,000 mi. This may not equate to much in terms of shipping time but from a cost perspective, this starts to add up.”
The new facility will be between 15,000-20,000 ft.2 and APS expects to employ approximately 12-15 staff at the site. Hutchings says APS anticipates the facility will hold the same Asia-Pacific maintenance approvals it has for its U.S. location, which include certificates from Bangladesh, Malaysia, Nepal and Thailand.