Heston MRO Adapts Offerings As COVID-19 Alters Market Demands

Credit: Heston MRO

Heston MRO is remaining focused on growth during the novel coronavirus crisis by adding Part 147 Technical Training capability. Under its new Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) Part 147 approval, issued April 7, the independent MRO plans to begin delivering virtual technical training courses in May.

“Despite the challenging times in COVID-19 environment, Heston MRO is staying focused on its strategic direction to become a true Total Care partner for operators in Australasian region,” says Chris Holmes, HR and training manager, Heston MRO. “Our newly acquired Part 147 Technical Training capability provides the needed flexibility in upskilling of our own staff, as well as opportunity to fill the niches for third parties in the aviation skills market in Australia.”

Trainees at the MRO’s facilities in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth will receive virtual training via a video conferencing platform focused on Airbus A318/319/320/321 CEO and NEO generations with all types of engines. Heston MRO is still weighing its plans for practical training courses that require trainees to be physically present during instruction.

According to Jonas Butautis, director of Heston MRO, the company was planning to grow its technical training unit “in a gradual, step-by-step way” prior to the COVID-19 crisis. It plans to run a few courses this year to test the approach and improve processes before expanding the program once the crisis passes.

“For Heston MRO, we are using this slow-down period to ‘clean the kitchen’—permanently adjust the costs structure, accelerate the launch of new products and services, and strengthen relationships with customers,” explains Butautis. “We plan to exit this difficult period being a stronger, even better positioned independent MRO, ready to capture the further growth opportunities that the Australasia market presents.”

One area in which Heston MRO has seen increased demand is aircraft parking and preservation, with leasing companies and aircraft owners seeking temporary storage solutions and transitions. The MRO is providing practical storage support at its stations across Australia and at its dedicated storage facility in Alice Springs.

Butautis says the coronavirus crisis has made the MRO industry a very dynamic environment in which to operate. “Airline customers are getting creative in capturing remaining niche opportunities, for example, carrying cargo in passenger aircraft, increasing cargo frequencies, finding short-term programs to return citizens to Australia, etc.,” he notes. “Heston MRO has to adapt to this speed, sometimes launching new service within two days from the first customer contact.”

According to Butautis, Heston MRO has needed to change daily routines to account for social distancing measures and the risk of COVID-19 being aboard aircraft that come on site. The MRO has taken a number of measures to minimize contact for technicians, including changing sequencing and timing of events upon aircraft arrivals and providing protective equipment to all operations staff.

Lindsay Bjerregaard

Lindsay Bjerregaard is managing editor for Aviation Week’s MRO portfolio. Her coverage focuses on MRO technology, workforce, and product and service news for AviationWeek.com, Aviation Week Marketplace and Inside MRO.