Sunday, September 25, 2011

Kazakhstan sets sights on becoming MRO hub

Posted by- Neelam Mathews
Sept 25, 2011

Even as India struggles to set up its MRO facilities, Kazakhstan’s leading carrier Air Astana has opened a new internationally approved engineering facility in Almaty.

The facility is equipped to handle non-destructive testing and repairs to wheels, batteries and aircraft structures. Air Astana’s investment in the facility will save it over $1 million in the first year, as it becomes independent of foreign maintenance service providers, says the airline.

The facility is a milestone in Air Astana’s plan to create a leading aircraft maintenance centre serving Central Asia and the CIS. This process will see the airline progressively upgrading its engineering capabilities to the point where it will be able to undertake complex aircraft maintenance services (C-checks)  on both its own aircraft and those of other carriers by the end of 2012.  

Brake and composite material shops, as well as structural maintenance workshops will be ready for certification by the European Aviation Safety Authorities (EASA) by the end of 2011. The airline is additionally investigating the possibility of creating calibration and hydrostatic laboratories.

“Both Air Astana and the government of Kazakhstan are committed to seeing the country become the region’s focal point for aeronautical engineering excellence, both in terms of  the availability of highly qualified manpower resources and international  standard MRO capabilities,” said Peter Foster, President of Air Astana. “The opening of Air Astana’s new engineering facility in Almaty today represents a major step towards reaching this national goal.”

Air Astana is the only airline in Kazakhstan certified to perform aircraft maintenance to European standard EASA/Part 145.

Air Astana currently operates a fleet of 24 aircraft comprising two Boeing 767-300, four Boeing 757-200, ten Airbus A321/A320/A319, two Embraer E190 and six Fokker 50. The airline serves 23 domestic and 31 international destinations.

Air Astana is a joint venture between the National Welfare Fund “Samruk-Kazyna JSC and the British company BAE Systems, with shares of 51% and 49% respectively.

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