ATR MRO Expansion In Germany

RAS is upping shop floor capacity by about 75% in Monchengladbach with the building of a new facility.
Credit: Rheinland Air Service

German MRO Rheinland Air Service (RAS) plans to expand capacity at its Monchengladbach base by adding a new maintenance facility by summer 2022.

RAS specializes in ATR aircraft maintenance for its commercial aviation business, with offerings including base maintenance, line maintenance, components and avionics repairs from its base in the western German city.

The company will increase its existing 86,000 ft.2 hangar space by around 75% by adding a further 65,000 ft.2 capacity. This will see an additional eight repair slots added for regional aircraft repairs. 

Philipp Mallmann, director of business development at RAS, says they’ve broken ground on the project with the construction of the hangar set to begin in three months’ time. “It will take between 12-15 months to finalize all construction,” Mallmann says. 

The project had previously encountered several delays, some of which were related to obtaining relevant planning permissions. Construction was further delayed by around one year due to the COVID-19 outbreak in the first quarter of 2020, a factor which mainly hurt its commercial business while its business aviation operation showed signs of robustness. 

Job creation is also anticipated to meet the ramp up of work expected at the expanded base where RAS already employs more than 200 people. “We will add around 50 new employees, likely next summer, and eventually another 100 employees in the long-term,” Mallmann says of its recruitment plans. This will largely consist of mechanics and associated technical roles while also factoring in some administrative staff. 

Long-term, Mallmann says the company is planning to grow its ATR business and is aiming to become one of Europe’s largest third-party repair specialists for the aircraft. However, he says the hit to parts demand remains ongoing—a fact reflected by the lull in part-out services performed in-house by RAS. At the beginning of last year it bought two ATR aircraft for teardown, and Mallmann says the sale of parts from the aircraft has been slow. 

While conceding the industry is depressed right now, he predicts demand will recover for ATR aircraft. “In Europe there’s especially strong demand,” he says of maintenance services for the turboprop aircraft.

“There’s a lot of ATRs parked outside of our hangar right now, and at some point they will need servicing,” says Mallmann, who adds that RAS is looking for space at the neighboring airport to park some more ATR aircraft given the constraints it now faces at its own facility. 

James Pozzi

As Aviation Week's MRO Editor EMEA, James Pozzi covers the latest industry news from the European region and beyond. He also writes in-depth features on the commercial aftermarket for Inside MRO.