Rheinland Air Service (RAS) has expanded its maintenance facilities, both at its home base in Germany, but also in Namibia. But Walter Lange, chief operating officer for RAS, complains that the new hangar in Germany still does not give the company as much space as it needs to meet recently increased demand.
“It has allowed us to expand the business we already do, and given us better shops,” he said. “But realistically, it’s already too small—it was full from the first day—and it certainly won’t hold for the next 10 years.”
RAS was constrained by the available site and couldn’t build it any larger. “We will have to build another hangar, but we are not planning to do so just yet. After all, we cannot invest in a new hangar every six months,” says Lange.
“Still, we’re very satisfied with its success and it will allow us to start doing component repairs on electromechanical parts. Step by step, we will increase the business,” he adds.
The new hangar, at RAS’s central European headquarters in Monchenglad-bach, near Dusseldorf, Germany, effectively doubles the size of the company’s facilities to nearly 91,500 sq. ft. With a second hangar, workshops and storage, plus space for six ATR 42/72 aircraft, RAS can now grow its business of parting out surplus ATR aircraft.
Meanwhile, its decision to expand into Africa was at the suggestion of ATR itself. RAS’s new MRO base at Eros Airport in Windhoek, Namibia, is well positioned to support sub-Saharan Africa’s thriving aviation industry.
“ATR asked us to go to Africa because there was no single independent MRO there at the time,” says Lange. “Most of the current MROs are working for a specific airline, so if you take your airplane to them it will always come second.
“ATR wanted us to go further north though, which we did not want to do,” Lange adds. “We think Namibia is a very stable country and it is specifically looking for investors to build in their country. It’s also good that most of the people speak German.”
The base is an acquisition of an existing company, Aviation Centre, which mainly dealt with safari fliers and maintained Beech and Cessna aircraft.
RAS is expanding the facility to include ATR types, and completed its first ATR C check in June—even though the hangar was not finished. “It was a bit of a headache to get everything done, but now everything is ready, and we think we will be able to collect business from the airlines operating in Southern Africa that currently have to go all the way up to Europe,” he says.