MRO Memo: UK MROs Plan Ahead

The empty Manchester facility which is now on lease to STS Aviation Services and will start operating again later this year.
Credit: James Pozzi/Aviation Week

The UK isn’t a country awash with independent maintenance providers, but some of its existing specialists are buoyant in the wake of growing passenger traffic and a rebounding MRO demand.

Unsurprisingly, it is the narrowbody fleet which is providing a boon for UK maintenance companies, with many airlines upping the schedules of Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 aircraft over the summer months.

Now, the next-generation fleet is factoring into several UK MRO providers, a fact further demonstrated by this week’s announcement that 2Excel Engineering has added approval for Airbus A320neo base maintenance by the UK Civil Aviation Authority. 

Under the new approval, the independent MRO specialist will provide heavy maintenance services up to C check on the LEAP-1A powered narrowbody at its Lasham, Hampshire base.

Wales-based Caerdav, buoyed by a recent £4 million ($4.9 million) investment and a 2022/23 winter base maintenance contract with Ryanair, is also looking at both the A320neo and the Boeing 737 MAX, and says it will start reviewing these new programs early next year. 

Investment from U.S.-based STS Aviation resulted in the resurrection of maintenance activity at the former Monarch Aircraft Engineering site in Birmingham in 2019 and the group has continued in the same vein this year by bringing back MRO services to another non-operational hangar.

In April, STS Aviation Services took the lease of the former maintenance facility of defunct airline Thomas Cook in Manchester. I visited the hangar last week, and while any visible signs of it being an STS location are yet to be seen, work is well underway to bring the hangar up to speed for an opening, likely in October.

STS ultimately sees the Birmingham and Manchester facilities complementing one another: its existing Birmingham location will service Boeing aircraft while the Manchester facility will focus on Airbus aircraft. 

Also enjoying good fortunes in 2022 is GT Engine Services, an engine maintenance, repair and storage specialist based near Stansted Airport, which I visited on Tuesday (Aug. 23). 

Greg Macleod, CEO of the company he founded in 2010, told me that GT Engine Services is now surpassing pre-COVID levels in terms of work volumes. Currently, it can store around 150 engines at its site with capacity for 20 in its workshop. 

He also sees new-generation engine models, namely the LEAP and the GTF, as playing big roles in the company’s future. 

An in-depth feature on the state of the UK’s commercial activity will run in October’s Inside MRO.

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.