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AAR Adding Composite MRO Services In Clearwater

AAR plans to add FAA Part 145 certification to its Clearwater facility, which specializes in composites.

As part of AAR Corp.'s quest to grow demand for work on both new and legacy aircraft platforms, it intends to add a repair station to its extensive list of composites services, company executives tell Aviation Week.

Plans call for AAR's composite facility in Clearwater, Fla., to be granted an FAA Part 145 repair station certificate late this year or in early 2020, paving the way for customer work to begin "within the next year,” said Brian Sartain, senior VP, repair and engineering services.

Adding the repair station would round out an already long list of composite work AAR performs. It manufacturers a variety of new components for commercial and defense platforms, ranging from Airbus A220 flap-track fairings to Sikorsky S-92A interiors. It also supports its large airframe MRO business by repairing and making new composite parts needed for larger overhaul jobs. A Part 145 certification would open up a direct business line to third-party customers looking for just component repairs.

The need for composite work is expected to increase as more newer-model aircraft designed with higher amounts of composite content, such as the Boeing 787 and Airbus A350, become more prevalent. But Sartain notes that demand for work to support many older models is already high.

"There is a significant market that we aren’t tapping for legacy flight-control repair,” Sartain said. “They are big, composite assemblies that need specialized repair, and the source of supply is dwindling.”

AAR will accommodate the new work by expanding its Clearwater facility, which it owns. The current shop takes up 65,000 sq. ft. and employs about 100 people. In addition to adding space for the new MRO service, Clearwater will increase its autoclave and machining capacities, said AAR Composites General Manager Dan FitzPatrick.

AAR added its Clearwater facility in 1997 through the acquisition of ATR International. The shop once held a Part 145 certificate, but shifted its emphasis to new production as part of AAR’s strategy to both grow and broaden its business lines.

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