Vector Aerospace Asia will be one of only three PW150A engine overhaul facilities in the world, says general manager Philip Ang, who was previously head of heavy maintenance at SIA Engineering. The other two are at Pratt & Whitney’s facility in Canada and Lufthansa’s engine facility near Frankfurt.
The PW150A powers the Bombardier Q400, an aircraft type of which there are relatively few in Asia. The operators in this region are QantasLink (Australia), PAL Express (Philippines), Japan Air Commuter, All Nippon Airways (Japan), Eznis Airways (Mongolia) and SpiceJet (India).
Vector Aerospace Asia, however, can tap the Q400’s global operator base, because customers can choose to send their engines via air cargo to Singapore. The biggest markets for the Q400 are Europe and North America.
Ang says the Singapore MRO firm aims to open in October. In any other country that might seem like wishful thinking, but Singapore does have a reputation for speed and efficiency.
Ang says Vector Aerospace chose Singapore “because Singapore has a very good and established MRO workforce. Our belief is that Vector will be able to attract the talent share we need because we are a start-up and yet we are part of a big established group – Airbus Group.” Airbus Helicopters owns Vector Aerospace.
While Vector will need to recruit its senior personnel from other MRO companies, Ang says: “I want to develop the workforce and go into the schools. We’re not solely relying on today’s workforce…but we will have to work with Singapore’s Institute of Technical Education, the polytechnics and universities, so we can eventually develop our own engineering people.”
He says Vector Aerospace Asia needs to have the capability to do repair development work, which means coming up with new repair techniques. “As aircraft engines become older, you see requirements for repairs that are not in the manual. Therefore, you need to be able to develop new repair techniques”
Ang’s October target for opening the MRO facility may seem ambitious – considering the MRO building is not yet built yet – but construction has started and Ang says he believes it will be ready then. It will open with a workforce of 44 people, “and ramp up to 140 people in three to five years.” Initially it will do three or four engines per month, but it will then achieve 100 engines per year with a workforce of 140, he says.
Vector Aerospace says it is spending more than S$50 million ($39 million) to establish the facility, including construction, equipping and tooling. The engine facility will be 5,200 sq m and sits on 8,000 sq m of land. It will include an engine test cell.
Ang says it is unlikely that Vector Aerospace Asia will add the Pratt & Whitney Canada PW127 engine to its repertoire. Even though the PW127 and PW150A are from the same family of engines, Ang says P&W already has an engine MRO in Singapore handling PW127 engines. The PW127 powers ATR turboprop aircraft.
“We do PW306 and PW307 engines [at our facility] in Europe. Do we need additional capacity? It is something to look at. But it is too premature to discuss at this stage,” he adds. The 306 powers the Cessna Citation Sovereign, Dornier 328Jet and the Gulfstream G200. The 307 powers the Learjet 85 and the Dassault Falcon 7X.