50 new jobs at Bridgend aerospace firm TBD Owen Holland

Library image of Qatar Airways  plane

The firm supplies equipment to firms including Qatar Airways

A firm which provides support and equipment to the aerospace and defence sectors is expanding with the creation of 50 new jobs.

TBD (Owen Holland) Ltd, in Bridgend, had considered moving part of its operation to Abu Dhabi to be closer to its main customer base.

But the Welsh government awarded a £700,000 grant to ensure the £2m expansion went ahead in Bridgend.

The firm, based at Waterton Industrial Estate, currently employs 90 people.

The company’s founder Steve Meredith said the firm expected overseas sales to rise 30% in the next two years, having attracted new clients including Saudi Arabian Airlines, Qatar Airways, Etihad, Kuwait Airways and Fly Dubai.

Economy Minister Edwina Hart said she was pleased the company would continue to grow in Wales, creating new well-paid jobs and economic benefits to the region.

Sourced by BBC News Wales

Cardiff Aviation MRO Appoints Sales & Marketing Director

Cardiff Aviation MRO, the fully-approved and certificated aviation maintenance company has recently appointed Phil Swanson as its Director of Sales and Marketing.

Phil is an aviation sales professional with wide experience of the aircraft industry. He began his career with an aircraft engineering apprenticeship at British Aerospace and worked as an engineer on new production aircraft and military fast jets before promotion to senior management. Phil established his aircraft maintenance sales career at BAE SYSTEMS in the nineties where he developed new business with Airbus operators in the US, China, India, Europe and the Middle East. Phil was appointed as a Director of Sales at BAE SYSTEMS Asset Management in 2003 where he successfully placed more than fifty aircraft with airlines and operators world-wide.

Academically Phil has studied marketing at university and management at business school. As a self-certified aviation enthusiast Phil has a current private pilot’s license, he is also a member of the historic Shuttleworth Veteran Aeroplane Society at Old Warden in Bedfordshire.

Cardiff Aviation’s Chief Executive Mario Fulgoni commented that Phil’s aviation sales career, his passion for the industry and his previous senior management experience make him ideal to lead the Sales and Marketing team at Cardiff Aviation MRO.

A350 XWB test fleet now complete: ‘MSN005’ – the fifth and final flight-test aircraft takes to the skies

Press Release by Airbus

With the first flight today of A350 MSN005, the five-strong development fleet is now complete. Being the second passenger cabin-equipped A350 and tasked with route proving and ETOPS validation, MSN005 embodies the operationally definitive configuration for Type Certification duties. This milestone means that the A350 XWB development programme is at full speed and on track for certification in the third quarter of this year, to be followed thereafter by delivery of the first customer aircraft to Qatar Airways in the fourth quarter.

As of today, the A350 XWB programme has already achieved more than 2,000 flight-test hours in around 500 flights, and with this the programme is demonstrating the highest flying rate ever achieved in Airbus flight tests, with around 80 flight hours per aircraft per month.

Air New Zealand selects A320neo Family to modernise single aisle fleet

Press Release by Airbus

Following Air New Zealand’s 2009 order for A320 Family aircraft, the airline has selected the added efficiency and performance of the NEO with an order for three A321neo, 10 A320neo and one additional A320ceo aircraft. The agreement marks the first time Air New Zealand has ordered the larger A321 aircraft and the NEO. Engine selection and cabin configuration will be made at a later date.

The A321 is the largest member of the A320 Family offering the best seat mile costs of any single aisle. The A320 Family fuselage is seven inches wider than competing aircraft and with a cargo hold designed for industry standard containers and pallets.

Air New Zealand Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon says the purchase confirms the airline’s intention to have an Airbus narrow body fleet. “Operating one narrow body aircraft type will bring important efficiencies in training, maintenance and operating costs.  The new Airbus NEO will help ensure we continue to operate one of the world’s youngest jet fleets and will further drive fuel efficiency allowing us to minimise our carbon footprint.”

“The NEO offers even further gains – a 15 per cent fuel burn reduction or up to 950 kilometres added range, and significantly reduced noise. Passengers appreciate the A320 Family has the widest and most comfortable cabin, and this re-order is proof that it also offers unmatched performance and productivity,” said John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer, Customers

The A320 Family is the world’s best-selling single aisle product line with more than 10,200 orders to date and over 6,000 aircraft delivered. The latest version A320neo incorporates new engines and “Sharklet” wing tip devices which together deliver up to 15 percent in fuel savings. At the end of April 2014, firm orders for the NEO reached over 2,700 aircraft from 50 customers, representing a 60 per cent share market share in its category.

Delta Places Order for 15 A321ceo aircraft

Press Release by Airbus

Delta will grow its A320 Family with an order for 15 A321ceo (current engine option) aircraft to offset jet retirements. The airline has selected CFM56-5B engines from CFM International to power the newly ordered A321ceo aircraft, which are scheduled for delivery starting in 2018. CFM International is a 50/50 joint company between Snecma (Safran) and GE.

Delta currently operates a large fleet of Airbus aircraft, including 126 A320 Family aircraft and 32 A330s. The order announced today brings Delta’s backlog to 45 single-aisle Airbus A321 and 10 widebody Airbus A330 aircraft.

“The A321’s economic efficiency and product offering relative to the aircraft they will replace ensures that this opportunistic transaction will enhance profitability, customer satisfaction, and shareholder value for Delta,” said Nathaniel Pieper, Delta’s Vice President – Fleet Strategy and Transactions.

“Airbus is excited to offer Delta comfortable and efficient aircraft that fit its demanding financial and customer satisfaction goals,” said John Leahy, Airbus Chief Operating Officer Customers. “It is clear that the quality, comfort and economy of the aircraft were the right fit.”

All of Delta’s A321s will feature fuel-saving Sharklets – lightweight composite wingtip devices that offer 4 percent fuel-burn savings. This environmental benefit gives the airline the option of extending its range up to 100 nautical miles/185 kilometers or increasing payload capacity by some 1000 pounds/450 kilograms.

Many of Delta’s A321s will be delivered from Airbus’ brand-new A320 Family assembly line, currently under construction in Mobile, Alabama. Hiring is underway at the facility, and aircraft assembly will begin there next year. By 2017, the Mobile facility is expected to produce four aircraft per month.

British Airways facility at Llantrisant acquired in a £7.8m deal

British Airways Avonics facility at Llantrisant

By Sion Barry,

A facility occupied by British Airways Avionic Engineering (BAAE) in Llantrisant has been sold to Karlin Real Estate for £7.8m.

DTZ acted on behalf of the vendor, BA Llantrisant Ltd, in negotiating the sale of the 111,000 sq ft building, located with a 12.5 acre site.

The entire site and buildings are let to BAAE Ltd for a remaining term of five years of a lease which was originally facilitated by the Welsh Government in 1994.

British Airways uses this BAAE facility to provide a one-stop solution for the repair and maintenance of a broad range of electrical aircraft components. In addition it also also carry out this repair and maintenance work for a number of third-party airlines.

The property is strategically located within close proximity to the M4 and British Airways’ other Welsh-based facilities in Blackwood and at Cardiff Airport.

Andrew Gibson, associate director at DTZ, said: “We are delighted to have executed the disposal strategy for our client on this asset in such a timely manner.

The asset created significant interest from a wide range of investors, both UK and overseas which culminated in a very competitive bidding process.

“The resultant pricing demonstrated strong appetite for shorter income in assets where tenants appear to be fully embedded.”

Karlin Real Estate was represented by James Mason and Gareth Lloyd of Knight Frank.

Sourced by Wales Online


Mechanical engineering is trying to turn a corner in Wales

Aerfin managing director Bob James

By Rupert Hall,

The environment is more like that of an operating theatre than an engineering workshop.

There is a sterility about the entire scenario, reinforced by men in spotless overalls who work noiselessly on pieces of intricately-designed metal which have been extracted from a nearby jet engine.

Even the most intrepid air travellers can but stand and marvel at their size and complexity, not failing to recognise the letters embossed on the engines’ housing – RR or Rolls Royce.

Fifty-year-old Bob James, founder and managing director of Aerfin, looks at them in the way some men would look at a picture of a sporting idol.

He said: “The cost of a jet engine such as the General Electric G90, Rolls Royce Trent 800 or the Pratt & Whitney 4120 would be in the region of $20m or £14m.

“Here we are providing the maintenance, repair and overhaul facilities, through a supply chain solution, to reduce engine maintenance cost.

“Today there is $58bn of annual aircraft production with $6bn spent on new engines.”

Mr James started Aerfin in 2010, having begun his career in the aviation industry at the age of 16 when he became an apprentice fabrication engineer, before transferring to a technical apprenticeship which he completed as a draughtsman.

Recalling his early years at Rolls Royce, he said: “I then moved into repair development, taking aircraft engine components manufactured by Rolls Royce which needed servicing and working on those.

“Doing that exposes you to a lot of other activities such as regulatory compliance, quality metallurgy, design and stress, while introducing you to the customer and customer relations.”

He added: “I did this for five years before feeling I wanted to work closer with the customer, and so I became a field service representative for Rolls Royce.”

His expectation was to travel the world. Instead he found himself in Treforest at a plant then owned by British Airways (BA).

By 1991 the aviation industry was changing rapidly and, within six months, he had moved between Rolls Royce, BA and General Electric, acquiring experience in a customer support and development role, which gave him exposure to such elements as maintenance, cost management, technical issues and engine testing.

He said: “In 1995 the leasing business was growing. The financial community weren’t as technically aware of the maintenance cost and risk associated with cost exposure as they are today.

“I saw an opportunity to work with the leasing companies and airlines, who were moving out of the older equipment, investing in new and focusing on their core business of flying passengers and not repairing engines.”

Against this backdrop Mr James set up Total Engine Support (TES) which offered technical, consulting and advisory services to commercially manage engine maintenance costs for airlines and leasing companies.

This led TES to have 1,000 engines under management and resulted in the move into engine leasing, engine buying, and then to buying old aircraft to remove the engines.

The company’s success came to the notice of DVB Bank which needed a bolt-on power plant engineering management organisation to assist in optimising its own assets, and in 2007 the business was sold.

“I stayed on as part of the succession plan before leaving to spend time with the family,” Mr James said.

“Then in 2010 I had the opportunity to come back into the industry when the financial crisis had hit a number of airlines and I felt there was an opportunity to look at distressed assets in a different way.

“So I started Aerfin with the purchase of eight aircraft engines and spent nine months recruiting people and attracting investors.

“This led to an opportunity to support a cost reduction exercise with a major airline, and that saw us take engines to Cardiff Bay where we recruited more staff, and we restructured our quality systems, management and HR activity in training and personal development programmes for staff.”

In the cathedral-like silence of the 45,000sq ft shop floor, staff are still working noiselessly.

Mr James said: “Our staff are specialist in nature. We have been successful in recruiting and we are careful who we take on, because it’s a difficult skill set to acquire.

“We look for those who have a power plant engineering and aerospace background or have gained experience with major airlines, the RAF and firms such as GE.

“So it’s challenging finding the right people with a detailed knowledge of manufacturing and engineering.”

After its move to a new site in Bedwas House Industrial Estate, Caerphilly, part-financed by a Welsh Government grant, the company now has all its aircraft disassembly services on one site, providing storage, warehousing and parts distribution.

Mr James said: “We’ve grown the technical department and continue to support the leasing companies we have been involved with on projects such as repossessing aircraft out of Egypt and Russia and taking distressed assets out of South America and Hungary.

“It’s all part of a strategy that sees us working closely with the original equipment manufacturer. We work with selective clients and manufacturers, shipping the material overseas for overhauling.

“Then the parts come back to us and we dispatch them with all the historical documentation and certification in a form that allows a company such as GE to install it as though it were a new part, thus saving the airline money.”

Aerfin is a business competing in an industry that is constantly changing. It’s a technically-driven organisation where safety is paramount and skills training integral to maintaining those standards.

The major manufacturers, along the supply chain, lead the way in introducing innovative components, and demands on noise, carbon emissions and fuel reduction become factors that drive the industry to improve the design and technology of aircraft.

These factors, Mr James explained, have a knock-on impact.

“Manufacturers are at the front end, driving the innovation and technology for new equipment at the expense of maintaining the low cost of legacy engines that still need to be serviced and operated. Every year there are a 1,000 new aircraft being delivered that will stay on the wing for seven to 10 years.”

Looking to the future, Mr James believes there will be significant growth opportunities for Aerfin that will see it working closely with manufacturers and maintenance, repair and overhaul organisations.

Within Europe there are few companies that have the tooling and equipment in an approved environment to completely disassemble an engine to the satisfaction of the major manufacturers.

All of which would indicate a secure future for the 20 highly qualified staff currently employed in the maintenance, repair and overhaul of jet engines.

This leads Mr Jones to say: “In order to achieve all this we have invested heavily in getting staff familiar with aviation process systems and they form a highly-skilled part of the Welsh economy which will remain here.

“The history of aviation in South Wales goes back a long way, to British Overseas Airways Corporation (BOAC) days in Treforest, which became BA then GE.

“On the periphery are the supporting industries composed of tooling and equipment manufacturing firms, along with a Welsh Aerospace Forum.

“This brings aerospace businesses, of which there are many, together, and that’s not including Airbus in North Wales and Rolls Royce at Bristol.

“Finally we have the local colleges which are proactive in developing apprenticeships and sponsored scholarships to bring people through.”

His conclusion is: “The skill base in Wales has a strong history in mechanical engineering which sadly deteriorated through 1980s and 1990s.

“Now we are trying to turn the corner, and in this training and development are the keys to growth.”

Sourced by Wales Online


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