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Steady climb

Turkish Technic has found new capacity to deal with the parent airline’s growing fleet and the third party market. Ian Harbison reports from Istanbul

It was back in December 2004 that MRO Management attended a Turkish Technic press conference at Sabiha Gökçen International Airport to mark the launch of the Havacılık Bakım Onarım ve Modifikasyon Merkezi (HABOM), or Aircraft Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul Center. At that time, it was scheduled to be up and running in 2007. Economic downturns, a joint venture with ST Aerospace that fell through and difficulties with the terrain were the main causes of the delays that saw construction eventually start in March 2010. It was formally opened in July 2014, although there had been a previous soft opening.


By that time, maintenance requirements for the rapidly expanding fleet of parent Turkish Airlines were putting a squeeze on capacity for third party work in the original hangars at Istanbul Atatürk, which have five widebody and seven narrowbody bays. Even the acquisition from MNG Technic in May 2013 of a two-year old, 25,000m² hangar at Atatürk, with two widebody bays, nine narrowbody bays and a paint hangar, still left an overall lack of slots.

While there is a two-bay hangar in Ankara, it is only used for narrowbody overnight checks. The result has been a drop in third party work to about 15-20% on airframe work (it is about 50/50 on components).


Ahmet Karaman, Chief Executive Officer & General Manager of Turkish Technic, says the opening of HABOM – with 11 narrowbody and two widebody bays plus a paint hangar – has helped and the company is once again in a position to compete for third party work, with the aim being to increase the share to 20%. However, demand from Turkish Airlines continues to grow – the fleet has risen from 73 aircraft in 2005 to 300 and is forecast to reach over 420 in 2020 – so hitting the target actually requires more than the obvious 5%. The target is C checks, although he says there is no money in narrowbody work. The company will soon enter the military market as it has been selected as the maintenance provider for 10 Airbus A400M Grizzly transport aircraft, to be operated by the Turkish Air Force.


One benefit from Turkish Airlines’ dominance of the workload is that it offsets extreme seasonality in third party work.


A cost-saving measure has been the growth in narrowbody operations by Turkish Airlines from Sabiha Gökçen. Aircraft can now be scheduled to arrive there and transfer to the hangar, while the widebody aircraft have a short ferry flight to and from Atatürk. For the same reason, the engine shop has now added line maintenance to its portfolio.


The latter still dominates within Turkish Technics, with around 7,000 employees, while there is roughly half that number at Sabiha Gökçen. There are around 900 line maintenance engineers and 700 for base maintenance. It was hoped that HABOM and MNG Technic employees could be combined into a lower cost salary structure but this has not worked as planned. This was partly due to the different company cultures and skill levels, but Karaman says the situation is now settled. As it is, Sabiha Gökçen will have more of a focus on components.


Training will have to increase further to provide enough skilled staff in the future – this was achieved successfully for HABOM, building up a pool of 1,200 staff. The training academy has just received EASA Part 147 approval (allowing the company to generate third party revenue as well), with a two-year course leading to a B1 or B2 rating. A Boeing 737-300 has been purchased from a Japanese leasing company, along with surplus A340 engines, to provide hands on training and additional instructors are being hired. The first Part 147 course will be for 737-700/800 training.


Irfan Demir, Executive Vice President (Commerce), says the company is doing well in 2017, with 20% growth expected this year and $1.06 billion keeping it in the top ten of MROs worldwide by revenue. He expects 30% growth by the end of 2018 as there is an aggressive action plan to expand activities.

This includes negotiations with a number of OEMs worldwide to add to component repair capabilities, as well as six or seven major projects with airlines in the Middle East, Far East and US. 


One growth area (15% in 2016/7) has been component pooling agreements, with 290 aircraft supported with airlines from Malta to Indonesia. 


In 2016, the comparison between Turkish Airlines and third party work events was 16 heavy checks exclusively for the airline; 139/41 for C checks and 34/19 for painting.


Demir also has oversight of the company’s Research & Development Center, which is currently working on wifi and seatback IFE systems, as well as associated companies Turkish Cabin Interiors (TCI) and TSI Aviation Seats (see Aircraft Cabin Management, October 2017).


TSI Aviation Seats was established in 2012 as a joint venture between Turkish Airlines and Assan Hanil, a Turkish manufacturer of automotive components, including seats. Recent achievements include line fit for five Airbus A330s for Turkish Airlines and the launch of the Epianka narrowbody economy class seat.


TCI is a joint venture between Turkish Airlines, Turkish Technic and Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) and was first established in December 2010 at TAI in Ankara before moving to HABOM in 2013. The company specialises in aircraft galleys and this year has seen a breakthrough into the international market and with the 737 MAX. This has come from India, with orders from SpiceJet for 155 aircraft and from Jet Airways for 79 aircraft. Deliveries will start next year. 


He notes that there is a further collaboration in the Turkish Engine Center (51% owned by Pratt & Whitney), specialising in CFM56 and V2500 overhaul and repair. This is located 500m south-west of the HABOM complex and started operations in 2009. Demir says it had its best year ever in 2016, with 115 shop visits. >>


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