May 2019 marked the 80th anniversary of the first aircraft arriving in Shannon, Ireland, for maintenance, notes John Drysdale, business development manager of the Shannon Group. In the new millennium, despite worries about Brexit and a “challenging” MRO market, Drysdale says maintenance at Shannon has been growing in capabilities and capacity.
Three major facilities now provide base maintenance and modification at Shannon.
In 2018, Lufthansa Technik Shannon made changes to enable growth from six to up to 10 base maintenance lines, with a second hangar dedicated to aircraft transitions and modifications. LHT Shannon recently performed a WiFi upgrade for a major European airline.
Atlantic Aviation Group offers three base maintenance lines performing maintenance on Boeing aircraft. In recent years, Atlantic did a major modification program on Star Air’s 767s.
Dublin Aerospace performs base maintenance on Boeing and Airbus narrowbodies and overhauls landing gear and auxiliary power units.
Drysdale says narrowbodies have been the backbone of Shannon’s maintenance and modification activity. However, “the growth of widebody activity has been significant.” LHT Shannon recently added 787 capability and is doing maintenance on European 787s and 777s. “Maintenance on older types such as 757s and 767s sees continued demand from operators such as Air Canada, FedEx, Star Air and DHL.” And maintenance on these cargo types has dampened the cyclical and seasonal nature of scheduled airline maintenance.
Recently, Shannon has seen two new component shops gain Part 145 approvals. “Most growth has been in technical services, and we've also had a number of new part companies set up their European bases here and new lessors have also joined the cluster,” Drysdale says.
Shannon MROs are thinking strategically, seeking to add capacity without adding hangars. Drysdale estimates that LHT Shannon and Atlantic Aviation have been able to increase their check lines by over 33% without building new hangars. “This has been achieved be performing some interesting internal modifications to the hangar structures and layouts and by careful work and materials planning.”
On Brexit, the Shannon exec acknowledges he has concerns. “Our maintenance organizations depend on the component repair supply chain in the UK and the ease of logistics in moving parts rapidly, ship-shop-ship, between jurisdictions.” In addition, the UK is a land bridge from Ireland to the European mainland. “But we are hopeful that ways and means will be found to resolve or circumvent these issues and are confident that the competitiveness we enjoy will be maintained.”