THAI Airways International (THAI) and Rolls-Royce yesterday signed a cooperation agreement with a view to equipping its maintenance facilities at Don Mueang airport to service the British engineering giant’s line of Trent aircraft engines.
The agreement signed for 10 years will see the two companies work together to explore how to expand Rolls-Royce’s Trent CareNetwork by building on THAI’s existing maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) capabilities.
Becoming an authorised maintenance centre for Rolls-Royce would enable THAI to generate annual revenue of around Bt4-5 billion for the service within three years, an airline executive said.
THAI acting president Usanee Sangsingkeo said the agreement would build on THAI’s existing MRO facilities to enable the national carrier to repair the new engine types used by commercial airlines today.
THAI has the capability to expand its engine maintenance services for the Rolls-Royce Trent 700 engine used by Airbus A330 aircraft and the Trent 1000 engine on the Boeing 787 Dreamliner. By doing so, it would meet the needs of the regional market, making sufficient use of the maintenance facilities and further developing a business joint venture, Usanee said.
Usanee said the cooperation agreement was in line with government policies that promote the achievement of industry goals. Moreover, the establishment of MRO facilities for Rolls-Royce would serve as a new growth engine that will help in the development and eventual readiness of an aircraft maintenance centre in the Eastern Economic Corridor (EEC). Skills in the field of aircraft engine maintenance would be further developed and this would help the nation’s aviation industry become the best in the region, Usanee said.
Chris Cholerton, Rolls-Royce president – civil aerospace, said the collaboration was an important step for a relationship between THAI and Rolls-Royce that has spanned more than 50 years.
For Rolls-Royce, it would bring greater capability, flexibility and choice into the company’s service network, he said.
For THAI, it would not only mean more efficient servicing of its own engines but also open the door to providing those services to other carriers, creating a standalone revenue opportunity for the airline, Cholerton said.
“For Thailand, this will be a great opportunity to train, develop and to grow a talented and valuable engineering workforce here,” he said.
Cholerton said with the Rolls-Royce fleet of engines forecast to grow rapidly over the coming years, with all the associated maintenance requirements that will entail, this has to be a good thing for the country.
The British company is one of the world’s largest makers of aircraft engines.
Surachai Piencharoensak, THAI executive vice president, technical department, estimated that revenue from the centre in the first year would be Bt1 billion, rising to Bt4 to Bt5 billion annually after full servicing starts for both engine types – the Trent 1000 and Trent 700 - within three years.
Under the collaboration, Rolls-Royce would transfer clients to the centre and THAI would send its technicians to train at Rolls-Royce, Surachai said.
In the first phase, THAI would invest Bt500 million for equipment and training, he said.
The centre is expected to start operations in fourth quarter of this year with service for Trent 1000 in the first phase and full servicing for both of the Trent engine types in three years.
Its capacity at the beginning would be around 30 engines a year, with a maximum of 70-80 engines a year in three years, Surachai added.
THAI’s existing maintenance facilities at its Don Mueang base cover 250,000 square metres, with the engine section occupying around 50,000 to 60,000 square metres, he said.
The airline has about 3,500 technicians at its facilities and the company expected to increase this number by around 50-60 for the new centre.
He said the two companies would make further studies into a model for a business joint venture.