American Eurocopter (AEC) is significantly expanding its maintenance, repair and
overhaul capabilities (MRO) for gearboxes, rotor blades and airframes—enabling the
subsidiary to offer improved service and shorter turnaround times to customers while
generating new business opportunities.
AEC has made major investments in
material, equipment and technical
personnel at its headquarters in Grand
Prairie, Texas, which includes upgrading one
of its multi-function dynamic component test
benches to perform EC135 main gear box
overhauls, enhancing the blade shop’s capacity to accommodate
EC135/EC145 main rotor blades, and adding an all-new heavy
maintenance, repair and inspection activity for airframes.
With the introduction of EC135 main gear box overhaul and repair,
AEC is now able to service all EC135 dynamic components. The
EC135 is a particular focus for AEC, as there are more than 200
EC135s flying in the United States. Previously, only the main gear
box’s manufacturer, ZF Luftfahrttechnik (ZFL),
could work on its product in Germany—creating
a single-source repair situation that was a point of
concern for the US operator base.
To accommodate AEC’s EC135 main gear box
maintenance and overhaul activity, the company
made heavy investments to upgrade the largest of
its multi-purpose dynamic rotor component test
benches. In addition, it acquired additional tooling,
stocked up on the equivalent of spares for 20 gear
boxes and had its personnel trained in Germany.
Another AEC initiative is the growth of its alreadyextensive
blade repair capabilities, adding the
EC135 and EC145 main rotor blades to its portfolio.
The repair capacity will be important for the
already-substantial US EC135 fleet, and will position
the subsidiary to support the U.S. Army’s 345
UH-72A Lakota Light Utility Helicopters being
phased into service through 2016.
The third element of its MRO expansion is new
airframe inspection, maintenance, heavy repair
and conversion activity. AEC invested in a highly
sophisticated airframe jig that allows this work to
be performed in Texas for the AS350, AS355 and
EC130—and which includes rebuilds for aircraft involved in hard
landings and accidents.
AEC’s strategy to grow its MRO activity is the result of close cooperation
with Eurocopter in Germany and France. The common
goal is to increase Eurocopter’s U.S. market share for MRO while
also offering more reactive services to its customers. “American
Eurocopter is now better able to respond to the needs of customers
throughout the United States—and is also positioned to
help support the global Eurocopter fleet,” explains Gilbert Sales,
the company’s senior director of repair and overhaul.