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Making good

AerFin is building on the success of its Embraer E-Jet BeyondPool programme winning major airline customers. Ian Harbison reports

In May 2017, AerFin purchased the entire fleet of 15 Embraer E170-LRs from Saudi Arabian Airlines (Saudia), which, says AerFin CEO Bob James, was looking for a carefully structured disposal programme, with remarketing undertaken by Airstream International. In addition to the aircraft, AerFin acquired 10 spare GE Aviation CF34-8E engines, a spares inventory in excess of 24,000 line items, all the tooling and equipment from the airline’s CF34 engine shop and E-Jet line maintenance equipment.

The aircraft were delivered to Saudia between December 2005 and 2007, and had accrued more than 350,000 flight hours over an average of 10 years with the airline before the final 10 aircraft were grounded in December 2016. Although having operated in a hot and harsh environment, AerFin has found they had been maintained by Saudia Aerospace Engineering Industries (SAEI) to a higher standard than the OEM manuals as required by General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA). Engines had been maintained by MTU and Saudi’s own Jet Powerplant Centre, where the Hard Time of 3,000 hours required frequent removal due the environment and EGT margin loss, leaving engines with excellent LLP life remaining and installation of new hot section material.

While nine aircraft received D checks in 2016, the remaining six required a wing spar AD and major checks, with all requiring the 12-year landing gear checks in addition to the inevitable cabin reconfiguration and repaint. The expense of this work meant that five aircraft are to be parted out in Saudi Arabia but the remaining 10 aircraft were all flown out and have been delivered to AerFin in Europe.

While the first aircraft was flown to Teruel in July 2017 and since sold, AerFin has had a full-time team in the country, working closely with the MROs and GACA. AerFin and Saudia have worked closely to deliver the remaining 10 aircraft, engines and spares despite the challenging environment of Saudia taking a substantial amount of new aircraft deliveries during this period. The last aircraft (MSN 142) only arrived on 10 May. This, with four others, has been sent to KLM UK Engineering in Norwich. Another has just completed a C check at Atitech in Naples, while there is one aircraft at Teruel and one in Tarbes. One more aircraft was disassembled after delivery to Teruel.

Underlining the quality of the SAEI maintenance, James says that the C check, repaint and compliance with non routines and general maintenance with a full dent and buckle survey and repaint was completed for less than $500,000.

James says the Saudia configuration of 6J/66Y is more suitable for the US market than Europe, where the higher 76Y densification is in higher demand. AerFin has been working closely with AKKA, which has developed a 76-seat STC.

For the spare parts, five 40ft containers have thus far arrived at AerFin’s central warehouse near London- Gatwick, with another 11 to come. With approximately 75-80% commonality with the E175 and significant commonality with the larger E190/195 models, the inventory has a wide application in the market and AerFin is seeing significant demand.

James says that the Saudia E-Jet fleet had benefitted from being part of the Embraer Pool programme with components maintained to a high SB standard so this, coupled with many of the spares being brand new in original OEM packaging, has positioned AerFin in an excellent position to bring a lower cost of operation to E-Jet operators worldwide given the significant volumes of inventory available. He says AerFin have benefitted from the fact that the last 10 aircraft were maintained under a storage program after retirement and the quality of maintenance undertaken by SAEI and the support provided by Embraer for remarketing the aircraft has seen increased demand for E-Jets in the industry. James suggests AerFin now holds the largest independent stock holding in the industry of E170/E175 inventory and AerFin are able to demonstrably bring to the market a lower operating cost of E-Jet component maintenance.

James further underlined his conviction in the quality of inventory adding quite bluntly that AerFin would not have secured a seven-year BeyondPool contract to support the British Airways CityFlyer fleet of 20 E170/190 aircraft if there had been the slightest shadow of doubt about the quality of the inventory and AerFin’s ability to deliver and support the high level of safety and reliability demanded by the airline. This is especially so with Embraer and Spairliners as competitors for E-Jet aftermarket services.

The services provided by the BeyondPool programme goes beyond component support to include an array of engineering related services managing reliability programmes, warranty and component repairs to meet service level guarantees. It also offers guaranteed support to meet dispatch reliability targets, stock placement at base maintenance and line stations globally, and engineering services including AD/SBs, modifications evaluation and reliability monitoring.

James adds that such a fleet acquisition has taken AerFin to a higher level. Such acquisitions bring buying power to the market and deliver confidence in inventory holdings while also enabling AerFin to become an active lessor in placing aircraft (it expects to keep many of the aircraft flying). Current negotiations include leasing an E170 sub-fleet to a major carrier as well as and BeyondPool agreements similar to the BA CityFlyer programme.

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