From startup to world class
MTU Maintenance’s origins date back to 1979, when it started out with just a single repair shop. Since then, it has become the world’s largest independent provider of MRO services for commercial engines.
The man who controls a borescope with his left hand while holding the little screen in his right is not a doctor, at least not in the true sense of the word. But his job is similar to a doctor’s. His “patients”, however, are not human beings, but aircraft engines.
The borescope allows him to take a look inside an engine without the propulsion system having to be laboriously removed from the wing of the aircraft. The engine mechanic immediately spots any anomalies on airfoils and disks and can often rework local damage on fan and compressor blades by a process called boro-blending.
The world’s largest independent provider of MRO services for commercial engines
It is this kind of repair technique that paved the way for MTU Maintenance to become the world’s largest independent provider of MRO services for commercial engines. Small wonder, given that these capabilities play such a significant role in helping airlines keep the costs of operating their fleets down. After all, aircraft make money only when they fly.
But such sound business reasons were not a prime consideration when in 1979 the decision was made to open MTU’s first affiliate, MTU Maintenance Hannover.
MTU’s third business arm, next to engine production and military repair, began operations in 1981. One of the engines has been in MTU’s portfolio from day one: the CF6 engine powering widebody aircraft. More than 2,600 engines of this type have since been repaired and overhauled by MTU Maintenance.
“By now, there are hardly any aircraft of western make that are powered by engines for which we have not obtained the necessary MRO licenses,” explains Mathias Weiss, who is responsible for engine teardown at MTU Maintenance Hannover. But obtaining these licenses is not quite as easy as it sounds. An advanced engine is comprised of 20,000 detail parts. About 1,000 of these parts lend themselves to repair and for most of these components, a repair procedure needs to be developed, based on a unique repair technique. “In our experience, it takes a lot of effort to come up with a solution that works as it should,” says Weiss.
From a single repair shop to a major provider of global engine services
Most of MTU’s high-tech repair processes and techniques are developed at the Hannover-Langenhagen-based center of excellence. On the one hand, it’s of course these capabilities that have turned the once small repair shop into a major provider of global engine services. “Our repair procedures are unique selling propositions.” On the other hand, it’s the company’s strong local presence in just about every market that has also played an important role in this development.
MTU Maintenance Berlin-Brandenburg started operations in 1991, and since then has been the center of excellence for the maintenance of industrial gas turbines which are derived from aircraft engines. MTU Maintenance Canada was added to the maintenance network in 2003.
Just a short time before, MTU had set up a joint venture with China Southern Airlines, a move that gave the company a foothold in Asia’s growth market.
“The airlines appreciate our MRO capabilities and our reliability,” Weiss explains. “Our processes are very stable, meaning we’re able to keep turnaround times very, very short,” – and the airlines in turn get their engines and aircraft back in the air as quickly as possible.
And this holds true for the smaller engines powering short- to medium-haul jets to the engines of the highest thrust categories. Last year, Air New Zealand, Southern Air und V Australia all opted to have the GE90 engines powering their Boeing 777 fleets maintained by MTU Maintenance Hannover. MTU’s maintenance arm is proving to be successful in its home country, too. German cargo airline AeroLogic became one of MTU Maintenance Hannover’s GE90 customers in mid-2012. “We’re confident that with this long-term agreement with MTU, we’ll be able to further improve our high standards of safety and quality, and at very competitive prices,” said Ulf Weber, managing director at AeroLogic, when he signed the MRO contract with MTU. In the final analysis, it all comes down to good business reasons.