and (LHT) confirmed Poland as the location for their new joint venture to service two engine types for the airline group and other airline and cargo operators from September 2018.
As part of their combined investment of €250 million ($267 million), the 350,000-m2 (3,760,000-ft.2) engine overhaul facility will be located in the Legnica Special Economic Zone (LSEZ) in Sroda Slaska in southwestern Poland and will operate under the name XEOS. Described by LHT’s senior vice president of engine services, Bernhard Krueger-Sprengel, as “a major milestone” in the MRO specialist’s growth strategy, the facility will provide maintenance services for two GE engine types: the in-service-2B used on -8 aircraft and the next-generation GE9X variant for the .
The first engine shop visit for the GEnx-2B is planned for the September 2018 opening date, with services for the forthcoming GE9X scheduled to begin in 2021. Work on the center will be conducted in two phases, with the building of office, service and operational buildings followed by internal and finishing work. LHT says that depending on future development of the business, a further expansion is in the offing to encompass an aircraft engine test chamber at the site.
Once operating at full capacity, the site is projected to lead to the creation of 500 new jobs in Poland. An estimated 75% of these will be for technicians, with the remaining 25% being for engineering and administrative jobs.
According to Thomas Boettger, managing director of XEOS, Poland was selected as the location of the engine center after “a lengthy and intensive” evaluation process. The project was first announced as a memorandum of understanding at the Paris Air Show in June 2015.
“Over the previous months, the suggested locations were examined in detail in terms of their resources and potential,” he says. “In the end, the LSEZ location was selected thanks to its development potential and economic competitiveness.”
Tapping into the local skill base, XEOS will partner with the Wroclaw Institute of Technology to focus on the training of new technical specialists for MRO. Boettger, who would not discuss the potential for further engine types being added to the facility’s capabilities, also noted that the ready availability of a skilled technical workforce was another key factor in selecting Poland as the XEOS location. “Polish specialists thrive on professional challenges, are open to new technologies, flexible in the dynamic labor market and ready to build up their skills,” he says.
The announcement further boosted the Polish government’s efforts to attract more high-skill, technology-driven projects to the country. Mateusz Morawiecki, deputy prime minister of development and finance, says the selection of Sroda Slaska for the GE-LHT joint venture demonstrates Poland’s readiness for taking on new, technologically advanced projects. “This investment will significantly strengthen the sector which, thanks to our world-class specialists in aviation engineering, has already become our Polish specialty,” he notes.
Poland’s location between Western Europe and Russia makes it a gateway to the growing market of operators for both engine types. At the end of 2016, there were about 500 GEnx-2Bs in service with 18 operators globally, while the forthcoming GE9X—the latest addition to theengine family—has 700 customer orders worldwide. Sizeable commitments for the GE9X have come from the Middle Eastern carriers. Emirates has signed for 150 GE9X-powered 777X variants, for 60 and for 25.
The Eastern Europe aviation maintenance segment also is projected to see healthy growth levels, outstripping those of its Western European neighbors. According to Aviation Week’s Commercial Aviation Fleet & MRO Forecast, a compound annual growth rate of 2.4% is predicted for 2017-26 in the region.