ATLANTA--HAECO Americas has opened a new stand-alone repair station for composites services targeting aircraft operators in the Americas region.
Parent company HAECO Group announced on April 9 its expansion of the HAECO Composite Services business, which had operated on a larger scale in Jinjiang, China, to include a new facility and repair services at its North American main base in Greensboro, North Carolina.
According to HAECO Americas, the new 60,000-sq.-ft. facility will offer composite shop solutions including repair services on nacelle systems, airframe components and radomes. It will specifically look for work from aircraft operators in the North America and Latin America regions. To begin with, the company will service composite parts for Boeing 737, 757 and 767 and Airbus A320 family aircraft, while on the military side, the facility will service composite components found on the McDonnell Douglas KC-10.
The company has undertaken composites repairs for more than 20 years, but its expanded U.S.-based services represents the first time it has offered the capabilities as a stand-alone FAA-certified repair station, which HAECO Americas said was certified about two weeks ago. The company seeks to add EASA accreditation at the Greensboro composites facility.
Bill Collins, president of airframe services at HAECO Americas, says the company carries out small scale composites repairs in the U.S.--typically maintenance with short turnaround times on systems such as flight controls. He says given the larger scale of its China composites operation and demand in the Americas region, HAECO Americas saw an opportunity to grow its composites output in Greensboro.
“In China, we found that a lot of North American and South American airlines were sending their larger structures to our China operation such as radomes, thrust reversers, flaps and slats,” he explains. “We thought there was room to do more work in the U.S., especially considering we had many lines of business for cargo, commercial and military aircraft operators in place. We thought perhaps we’d be able to grow the business a bit more quickly in North and South America if we had a location based in the Americas.”
HAECO Americas decided to set up its new shop in a dormant engine facility, which it acquired a few years ago from a U.S. airline operating services in and out of the city. "One of the big things that tends to hamper composites companies is the size of their autoclave--but we had some really large ones and getting better utilization out of those is important," says Collins.
The new facility already has around a dozen lines of business from an Americas-based airline customer. “It will help them to not have to ship stuff out, cut down on their rotable pool and get things turned around quickly on the same aircraft and out of the door,” he says.
HAECO Americas leveraged expertise from its Chinese composites facility when setting up the new North Carolina center, which entailed bringing some expatriate staff from Jingjiang to Greensboro to assist the effort. According to Collins, this was a small team of around four to five people aiding a process involving everything from achieving FAA certification and knowledge sharing over the day-to-day operations of a business of this nature and scale.
HAECO Americas says it plans to add new technical talent to the center, a process which is under way. Collins says with FAA approval and staff in place, work is expected to go through the facility to such an extent that he foresees the need to expand soon. “We are already concerned about outgrowing a large space in just six months due to the sheer demand,” he says. “This means we’re already looking at how to expand both on-site and off-site.”
Collins foresees heavy demand for thrust reverser and radomes work. However, using a conservative estimate, he predicts a timeframe of around one year before the site reaches maximum capacity.