Chief Operating Officer Neil Russell talks to James Pozzi from Aviation Week

Fast 5: Aero Norway Makes Engine Additions


Neil Russell, chief operating officer at Aero Norway, discusses the engine MRO acquiring more engine models and seeing opportunities in the cargo segment during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

How has Aero Norway adjusted its day-to-day operations in the face of the novel coronavirus?

We follow all Norwegian regulations with regards to the COVID-19 virus. In mid-March it was very challenging as the government was introducing new regulations daily, however this eventually became more stable. We do much more video conferencing than we used to do and recently did our first remote table inspection with a customer—which was successful. We have reduced the number of engine slots we have every month, which means that we have time to make improvements to our operations. At the same time, we have kept all of our people and can flex back to full capacity when required.

Earlier this month, Aero Norway announced it had invested in five CFM56-3 engines. Why did it decide to buy these additional engines?

As airlines were parking their aircraft in March, we could see it would have an effect on the CFM56-5/-7 market; at the same time, we could see cargo customers were increasing the utilization of their aircraft and using up cycles quicker. We bought the engines to fill gaps in production that we couldn’t fill with a customer engine, and we would expect customers with Boeing 737 classic freighter aircraft to purchase the engines. We run the Aero Norway refurbish and sell program to support customer pre-ordering of engines, so these are mainly built to order. The extra five that were recently acquired mean that we will now have engines available as required.

How has the engine repair segment for cargo aircraft surged in the past few months? 

Quite dramatically. Most of our freighter customers for -3s have required a shop visit in March-May and more are planned. We still hope to get some of our committed -5/-7 engines on top of these and have capacity to do so when they arrive. We have -7 engines planned to come in soon and hopefully some more through June to the rest of the year.

Which cargo customers are sending their engines to your shops?

We have operators and lessors from all over the world sending engines to us; from the U.S., Europe and China. The Aero Norway facility in Stavanger has a long history of -3 overhauls. It is known worldwide for the quality of engine MRO we deliver and we provide best in class EGT margin. We have very good people who are well educated and trained, who take great pride in their work with a customer focus. That’s one of the reasons we kept the capability for -3 overhauls and right now we are very glad we did.

Are you seeing fluctuations in material and parts pricing for engines?

A lot of used parts have better availability, some parts are still challenging to find. This is probably because there are not many engines being torn down right now, but I’m sure this will change. Most used material suppliers are being aggressive to get sales now and the ones that are getting the business are being very creative with their solutions to help us; showing a willingness to go a little bit extra which benefits our customers. Those that are not doing this will more than likely lose out.

Chief Operating Officer Neil Russell talks to James Pozzi from Aviation Week

Aero Norway, CFM56 engine MRO celebrates International Women’s Day. Siv Janne Aarrestad, HR & HSE Manager, discusses diversity and explains how Aero Norway encourages young women to flourish as they pursue a career in aircraft engine maintenance engineering.
Why do you think diversity in the workplace is so important?
Having diversity in the workplace is important to Aero Norway because we believe that a mix of people fosters better team dynamics, promotes creativity, encourages innovative thinking, and ensures a better a perspective when solving problems. Diversity at Aero Norway means we employ the best qualified person, irrespective of background, and we see that this leads to a better working environment for everyone.
Our society is constantly developing. Increased immigration, demographic changes and competitive pressures lead to a more complex global society. Successful businesses capitalise on the wealth of resources generated within a composite group.
What advice would you give to women who want to pursue a career in aviation maintenance or similar aircraft engineering roles?
I would give the same advice irrespective of gender – pursue the career that makes you happy. That saying, I definitely encourage young women to pursue a career within aviation maintenance or aviation engineering because the aviation industry is a dynamic and exciting world.
In our desire to contribute to a sustainable aviation industry Aero Norway is identifying new and smart ways of working. To be able to do this effectively, we need a diverse workforce, able to come up with new ideas. By that we mean diversity within gender, age, background, and culture.
Other advice I would give women is not to worry that an industry or workplace might seem to be male dominated. Be confident in yourself and your competence and what you can contribute.
At Aero Norway in particular, what actions are taken to promote the inclusion of women in the business?
Aero Norway has set a strategic goal to increase the number of women at all management levels in our company. Remuneration is based on experience and competence, and we actively encourage women to apply when we are recruiting.
What career options can be pursued after an apprenticeship in engine maintenance?
Our current CEO started as an engine mechanic which demonstrates that you can start as an engine maintenance apprentice at Aero Norway and work your way up to the top. Not everyone will become a CEO of course, but the are many other career opportunities after completing 2-year apprentice period.
We have a focus on internal mobility and various career opportunities in our company. It is important to us that our employees develop their potential and enjoy what they do.