Boeing joint venture preps to overhaul Saudi Apache helicopter fleet

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — A joint venture established in Saudi Arabia as part of a economic offset agreement willl provide rotorcraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) to support the Saudi rotorcraft fleet,

The Saudi Rotorcraft Support Company CEO, Neil Bevan, confirmed the contract for the company, which opened its first rotorcraft maintenance facility in Riyadh at the Industrial Zone of King Khalid International Airport in June.

“We suspect our first aircraft to be the Apache platform,” Bevan said. “We’re due to bring it into our rotorcraft maintenance facility in the upcoming few weeks and we are expecting to work on it for approximately two years.”

In 2015, Alsalam Aircraft Company, Boeing and Saudia Aerospace Engineering Industries (SAEI) signed an agreement to create the Saudi Rotorcraft Support Company. The joint combines core strengths and disciplines to create a unique offering in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, while delivering the objectives of Saudi Vision 2030.

The Saudi Apache helicopter has a significant amount of repairs that needs to be done.

“The repairs will involve a full strip down of the aircraft and a structural assessment of every component,” Bevan said. “Then, it will go one way or another: Either we repair the aircraft and put it back into flight or we will recover the components and put it under a remanufacturing program to support a new aircraft.”

SRSC’s rotorcraft maintenance facility consists of over 3000 square meters of aircraft maintenance facilities with four bays. Another facility is due to be launched in the middle of next year in Jeddah. Across the main nine rotorcraft operators in the Kingdom, more than 300 aircraft will be supported by SRSC.

“Our main focus will be the after sales support of those airframes doing both aircraft MRO in our facilities in Riyadh and component MRO in our facilities in Jeddah.”

Sixteen different types of helicopters are currently operational in the country, including the Apache and Black Hawk, which combined represent about 60 percent of the total airframes in the Kingdom. To complement that, Boeing is now introducing the Chinook and AH-6i helicopters into the country. The Kingdom also operates the MD-530, H-145, Cougar, Super Puma, AW-139 and AW109, Bell 412, 212, 406 helicopters and the remaining Sikorsky fleet that consists of S-92, S-76 and S-70i platforms.

The main rotorcraft operators consist of the Saudi Royal Air Force, Saudi Royal Land Force, Saudi Royal Navy, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of National Guard, among others.

As for the second aircraft to undergo an overhaul, the CEO predicted work to focus on the Super Puma or one of Sikorsky’s platforms. “It’s about the life cycle of repairs and maintenance,” he said. “There’s a group of aircraft from the Super Puma perspective that represents a depth need of maintenance.”

A fleet of 20 Super Puma helicopters is expected to be maintained.

For now, the Saudi facilities will not be a main hub for other coalition aircraft in the region. Bevan stressed “the importance of not over investing in capabilities that already exist in the region.”

The company’s three main objectives in alignment with Saudi Vision 2030 are localizing the defense and aerospace sector in the Kingdom, attracting talent from within the country into the business, and employment of women within the company.

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