Rolls-Royce and Air China to jointly operate maintenance facility in Beijing
China’s leading airline and British aerospace firm Rolls-Royce have joined forces to create a maintenance, repair and overhaul entity for servicing the country’s plane engines. The move comes after the United States has increasingly implemented export restrictions on advanced technology and curbs on international travel.
A new much-needed maintenance, repair and overhaul facility
According to a press release published on Thursday by Rolls-Royce, the 50:50 joint partnership is expected to produce the new facility in Beijing by the mid-2030.
“The announcement of this (joint venture) is an important milestone for Rolls-Royce in China, where we have been powering the nation’s airlines for more than 50 years,” said Chris Cholerton, president of civil aerospace at Rolls-Royce.
“Air China is a strategic partner for us, having successfully grown together over many years, and I am delighted to now expand our relationship with this exciting partnership in [maintenance, repair and overhaul] and look forward to continued growth of our collaboration.”
Called the Beijing Aero Engine Services Company (BAESL), the newly-formed facility will service the Trent 700, Trent XWB-84 and Trent 1000 engines for Air China’s widebody passenger jets. Rolls-Royce claims its engines are currently powering 60 percent of China’s total widebody fleet making up more than 550 aircraft. In addition, it is estimated that Rolls-Royce’s Trent 700 engines power approximately 90 percent of the country’s Airbus A330 fleet and that the Greater China fleet represents 20 percent of all Trent engines flying today.
The new facility “will provide services to Air China as well as its other airline customers based in Greater China and beyond”, the Rolls-Royce statement further said. At full capacity, BAESL will be able to support up to 250 shop visits per year.
Ensuring the reliability of planes
“With safe operation as top priority, Air China has long been committed to developing aircraft maintenance capabilities and ensuring the reliability of the fleet, meanwhile striving to promote the industrialisation of aircraft maintenance,” said Air China president Ma Chongxian.
“In the future, Air China and Rolls-Royce will continue to deepen our profound partnership and start a new journey of cooperation in the field of high thrust engine maintenance.
Meanwhile, the Beijing Youth Daily on Thursday quoted an official within the economic zone of Beijing Capital International Airport who refused to be named but said that the new project had an estimated worth of 2.61 billion yuan (US$378 million).
Rolls-Royce’s statement further noted the joint venture is an important part of the firm’s strategy for China, in terms of deepening their relationship with Air China, giving customers the best level of service, improving the cost-competitiveness of their business and generating incremental maintenance, repair and overhaul capacity as shop visits grow. It also aligns in-region growth with in-region capacity providing customer proximity, which supports the firm's sustainability goals by reducing overseas transportation of engines for maintenance, repair and overhaul activity.
We had the chance to speak to Dr. Stiavelli, the head of NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope project