By Mark Bennett | February 27, 2018
StandardAero’s theme for 2018 is "Bigger, Better, Bolder." The maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) provider kicked off Heli-Expo 2018 in Las Vegas with a presentation that, bolstered by its recent acquisition of Vector Aerospace, was intended to demonstrate those qualities to the helicopter industry.
With Vector, StandardAero has added major capabilities in rotorcraft support to its existing range of primarily fixed-wing aviation MRO services. Chief among what Vector brought to the organization is vast experience in helicopter engine services, ADS-B installation and certifications and a range of crash-resistant fuel system installations.
Vector also brought nine locations dedicated to helicopters, primarily in Canada, the U.S., U.K., Singapore and Australia. “We design our facilities to maximize the return for our customers, and for nine straight years we’ve won a customer service award from Rolls-Royce on their M250," said Rick Stine, StandardAero's president of components, helicopters and accessories. "We take customer service very seriously.”
In addition to repair and overhaul services for M250-series engines, it provides the same on CT7/T700 and CT58/T58, PT6A/T, AE 1107, GEM 42 and RR300, and Arriel 1 and 2 engines. It also has, and is continuing to develop, a lease and exchange pool of engines to provide a broader range of short- and longer-term solutions for its customers.
Of course, engine support services are just one facet of what Vector brought to the company. StandardAero now provides airframe repair and overhaul, paint, interior completions, engineering services and avionics upgrades, all backed by its in-house engineering capabilities, which includes FAA authorization to develop supplemental type certificates (STCs) as needed.
Paul Cockell, VP of commercial helicopter services, pointed out that Vector had developed a range of MRO and modification capabilities specific to the AS350 such that StandardAero can “do everything on the AS350 except the blades.” And despite its abilities and high levels of success across its myriad offerings on all aircraft, he knows it cannot be complacent: “We are challenged by our competitors, sure, but we also challenge ourselves internally.”
In an area of equipage and governmental regulation that is driving innovation across much of the aviation world, because it comes with a deadline, StandardAero has made a specialty of developing and installing ADS-B avionics, an increasingly critical capability as the 2020 deadline looms for compliance. It has certified installations for the Leonardo AW139, Sikorsky S-76, and Airbus AS332, AS350/H125, EC130/H130, EC135/H135, and EC120/H120 aircraft incorporating L-3 Lynx NGT-9000 or Garmin GTX-345 avionics.
And its ADS-B capabilities are just one offering of a portfolio of safety-related equipment that it terms Safecraft. StandardAero’s VP of business development, airframes and avionics solutions, Elvis Moniz, characterized Safecraft as intended to “reduce the occurrence of preventable incidents by taking a proactive approach, and to also offer reactive solutions in the event that something has gone wrong, to help save passengers and crew.”
The most recent addition to that portfolio is a crash-resistant fuel tank system for Airbus AS350/H125 and EC130 helicopters, developed in cooperation with Robertson Fuel Systems and certificated by Vector with manufacturing handled by Robertson. They have delivered 25 of these retrofittable systems to date. Papillon Airways has ordered 40 systems for its Papillon Grand Canyon Helicopters fleet of AS350 B3 and EC130 B4 aircraft, while the range of certified installations spans many more models of those airframes.
StandardAero also introduced a handy smartphone application, PowerCheck, that calculates torque and temperature margins based on engine instrument readings. By taking these functions off a user’s desk and putting them in a smartphone, the app has increased the utility and availability of the calculations, which as StandardAero's director of engineering and helicopter programs, Chad Kaatz, explained, shows how StandardAero is “working with customers to make their life easier.” At present the calculations are for Rolls-Royce M250 and RR300 engines only, though the app is free and available for both Apple iOS and Google Android operating systems.
The company has grown both in size and in the breadth of its capabilities, but it remains focused on its core competencies, even as it expands on what that means. As Stine concluded, “We are very good at maintenance — it’s the only thing we do.”
StandardAero was founded in 1911 and over the past century has developed into one of the world’s largest MRO providers. Its products and services span business and general aviation, commercial and military fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft. Owned since 2015 by Veritas Capital, StandardAero employs more than 6,000 people at 40-plus locations worldwide.