By 2035 the Asia-Pacific fleet – already the biggest in the world – is forecast to number almost as many aircraft as every other region combined.
Accordingly, it’s no surprise that manufacturers are racing to establish extensive support networks throughout the Far East.
Airbus, for instance, has just signed an MoU with Thai Airways to develop a major MRO hub at U-Tapao International – Bangkok’s third airport.
U-Tapao is shared between civil and military operators and is also used by Thai Maintenance, which has a 24,000m2 hangar to offer heavy maintenance services to both its parent airline and third-party customers.
The MoU envisions a new complex incorporating specialised repair shops for items such as composite structures, a maintenance training centre and data analysing technology. Capable of line and heavy maintenance for a wide range of aircraft types, the MRO facility would be “one of the most modern and extensive in the Asia-Pacific region”, says Airbus.
Ambitions are for a facility that could handle 12 aircraft simultaneously, and the entire project is expected to require a $560m from Airbus and the Thai government.
Thai Maintenance’s current hangar at the site can service two widebodies at the same time.
Airbus’ decision to pursue such a project in Thailand follows several other initiatives from the company in Southeast Asia, where the French company has evidently judged there to be sufficient overlap between nearby markets, political stability and government cooperation.
Last year, for instance, Airbus signed up Bangkok-based Triumph Aviation Services Asia. As a partner to inspect, test, repair and modify proprietary parts for the A320, A330 and A340 programs.
Meanwhile, on the nearby Malay peninsula Airbus offers heavy maintenance from Kuala Lumpur-based Sepang Aircraft Engineering, and material services from its subsidiary Satair in Singapore.