Prospects are looking up for Russian MROs, according to Igor Panshin, deputy CEO for sales and marketing at S7 Technics. Russian passenger traffic grew 18.6% from 2016 to 2017, and then another 10.6% in 2018, he notes. Panshin predicts Airbus, Boeing, Embraer and Sukhoi will add more than 150 aircraft to Russian airlines’ fleets by 2021, bringing the total to 1,000-plus planes.
That would work out to 450 or 500 base checks annually after 2021. And Russian MROs are also seeing an increasing number of aircraft transition checks, probably peaking in the next two years. “Engine and component maintenance demand will grow accordingly,” Panshin says.
To distinguish itself in this growing market, S7 has developed partnerships with OEMs and leading MROs to deliver unique products. It has launched a second CFM56 engine shop in cooperation with SR Technics, increased component maintenance with Safran’s Zodiac and gained FAA approval for heat-exchanger overhaul in cooperation with the TAT Group and Limco. Most recently, S7 joined Honeywell to launch an APU overhaul shop in Moscow within two years. Further, the Russian MRO has also been implementing Lean and Six Sigma processes to improve its services.
Market demand is encouraging S7 to expand its base maintenance hangars beyond their current locations in Moscow, Minerlanye Vody and Novosibirsk, which taken together offer 10 C check lines. “However, the shareholders’ decision is to perfect some elements of S7 Technics’ business model before we replicate our MRO anywhere else,” Panshin notes. “I think that might happen by 2021.”
The S7 exec acknowledges he faces challenges in recruiting new mechanics and engineers. “There is a lack of qualified staff on the Russian and CIS markets.” S7 has its own EASA Part 147 training center and also works with schools and aviation colleges. But, “the problem is wider and does not have a prompt solution,” Panshin says. “We expect certain improvements within the next three years. This is complex issue, requiring involvement by aviation authorities, industry players and aviation high schools.”
Nevertheless, S7 is growing. Just last week, the MRO opened a new line station at St. Petersburg’s Pulkovo Airport, one of Russia’s largest aviation hubs. The new station has an annual capacity of at least of 12,000 man-hours and is licensed for work on the Airbus А320 family, A320neos, Boeing 737NGs and Embraer E170s.