Fast 5: Eirtech Maximizes Excess Capacity, Invests In Solutions

Credit: Eirtech Aviation Services

In the midst of the novel coronavirus pandemic, Eirtech Aviation Services CEO Niall Cunningham talks to James Pozzi about how the company has adjusted and where it is seeing opportunities among the challenges.

How has Eirtech adjusted its strategy to meet the challenges of the coronavirus downturn?

The lockdown forced us to quickly adopt a company-wide remote working strategy. Thankfully recent investments in our IT infrastructure meant that all employees are supplied with all required equipment to operate as efficiently from home as from the office. We had moved our email and some file management to the cloud, which has worked really effectively during this period. 

In the near-term we have developed two new solutions which we are actively promoting to airlines globally: first, the installation of hand sanitizer throughout aircraft to protect passengers and crew. Second, utilizing commercial passenger aircraft to transport cargo in the cabin either on existing seats or with the seats removed.

In the early stages of the pandemic many of our customers are in planning mode as to what they will ultimately do with their surplus aircraft and we remain ready and willing to support the transitions market in whatever form that will take. We have already rolled out an audit of stored aircraft service so that aircraft owners can rest assured their valuable assets are being properly looked after.  Also, many of our product solutions will help distinguish one aircraft from another when it comes to remarketing the aircraft in the future. Our mandated avionics solutions will also be important as aircraft move jurisdictions.

During the downturn, what kind of maintenance work is Eirtech anticipating?

We are using any excess capacity to invest in the development of new STC (Supplemental Type Certificate) solutions which we believe will be popular in the aircraft transition market after COVID-19 has passed and aircraft start transitioning again. Now is a great time for this type of work. It also allows us to upskill some of our employees through completing required training programs. We also moved some of our employees between departments temporarily to cross-skill them, which should result in a more knowledgeable team in the future.

It has been mentioned that now could be a good time to invest in capabilities. Is this something Eirtech is considering?

We have been investing in our in-house manufacturing capabilities over the last two years. The benefit of this in the current situation is we are less reliant on sub-contractors, many of whom are completely closed during the lockdown. As a result we have been able to continue to produce and ship kits over this period without any issues. Eirtech is also expanding the scope of our DOA (Design Organization Approval) to include permit to fly and flight conditions which will help enhance our overall service package.

What was the thinking behind combining your technical services and CAMO (Continuing Airworthiness Management Organization) departments earlier this year to form a technical operations division?

We have grown very significantly over the last five years and have the capabilities, approvals and,most importantly, the teams to conduct and manage large scale aircraft modification and transition packages for fleets of aircraft. Combining both departments means we have one senior executive overseeing both areas. This also allows our highly experienced CAMO team more time on the technicalities of the job as opposed to the administration of the area.

There is a lot of overlap when we are supporting a customer who needs to take redelivery of an aircraft from one airline and transition it to another somewhere else in the world. To do this, they typically need onsite technical support during the redelivery/delivery to review aircraft records, complete physical checks of the aircraft and to project manage the process on behalf of the lessor. They may also require CAMO support to export the aircraft from one jurisdiction and import it to the next airline jurisdiction.

By combining both departments we can now offer a more seamless package solution for customers, whether it’s for one aircraft transition or a fleet of aircraft. We are uniquely placed to offer full program management to a transitioning aircraft/fleet from Tech Services to CAMO to Engineering to Materials to POA (Product Organization Approval) products so the customer only needs to make one phone call a week rather than five!

Last year saw two landmarks for the company. Eirtech celebrated its 10th anniversary and also saw it recapitalized by Vance Street Capital, a U.S. private equity firm. Despite the current market uncertainties, how do you see Eirtech further growing and positioning itself in the market in the coming years?

Eirtech is a stable and well-funded business. Now, more than ever, all customers are going to be concerned that when they part with their money—often in advance—they are going to get a service from a company that is going to survive this crisis and, more over, have the capability and muscle to get the job done. We also have the capability to expand further internationally beyond our Singapore and UK locations as acquisition opportunities will no doubt arise. We are looking forward to and planning for the next 10 years!

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.