SAE targets 700th aircraft scheduled maintenance this year

SEPANG: Aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) service provider, Sepang Aircraft Engineering Sdn Bhd (SAE), aims to reach its 700th scheduled maintenance by year-end, driven by a strong demand for the MRO service in the Asia-Pacific region.

As at end-2018, the company had performed 570 scheduled maintenance since its inception in 2007.

CEO Raymond Lim said the company was leveraging on its close affiliation with its parent company, Airbus, to adopt digitalisation or better known as smart hangar technology to enhance its efficiency.

“We have two state-of-the-art hangars, including one that opened only two years ago to meet the strong demand for MRO services from across the Asia-Pacific region,“ he told reporters during a tour of the company’s facility today.

He said the smart hangar integrated digital, analytic, predictive and preventive maintenance to improve efficiency.

“We used the smart hangar for the components workshop about a year ago and we are looking at the opportunity to introduce it to scheduled maintenance workshops in the future,“ he said, adding that the smart hangar was a very advanced technology that used drones and scanners for inspection and collaborative robot to perform tasks.

Lim also said the company had stepped up hiring to support its growth, targeting to employ 720 high-skilled employees by year-end from 600 at present and was also looking at improving the working shift structure to maximise the capacity of its facilities.

“The two hangars can perform up to 120 scheduled maintenance, annually, but as of last year, we were few aircraft short of 100 scheduled maintenance,“ he said.

He said the improvement in working shift structure would expand the company’s capacity which was currently reaching 90% under the single shift structure.

Lim said currently, the average turnaround time for light scheduled maintenance was eight days and heavy maintenance was between 18 and 25 days while paintwork was between seven and 12 days.

He added that scheduled maintenance contributed about 70% of SAE’s revenue followed by parts and components (10-15%) and paintwork (10%).

As a wholly owned subsidiary of Airbus, the company also benefited from the European aircraft manufacturer’s huge presence in Malaysia.

“Airbus is the largest international partner for the Malaysian aerospace sector, with its sourcing and services business worth approximately RM2.04 billion per year,“ he said, adding that Airbus’ activities currently employed over 4,000 Malaysians in the aviation industry.

Meanwhile, he said Airbus has forecast demand for aircraft in the Asia-Pacific region to grow 5.5%, annually, compared with a global growth of 4.4%, annually.

He said the fleet of aircraft in the Asia Pacific region was expected to almost triple to 20,000 in 20 years from 7,000 to date.

“Airbus predicts that the in-service fleet of 20,000 aircraft in 20 years time will include 4,000 of the aircraft currently in-service and almost 16,000 new aircraft to meet replacement needs and growth,“ Lim added.

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