Full Speed Ahead
By Drew McCarthy
B.C.-based ACROHELIPRO expanding to meet market needs
By Drew McCarthy
B.C.-based ACROHELIPRO expanding to meet market needs
|Ramone Fernandez performs a PT6 disassembly–
on average, a job that takes about a day-and-a-half.
Successful companies have successful customers – a simple truth no doubt, but one that Phil Kemp, ACROHELIPRO’s V.P. sales likes to emphasize. "We understand that reducing maintenance turn-time has a positive impact on our customers’ success,” says Kemp. “Our demonstrated ability and commitment to meeting expectations for service, delivery and price are factors that keep current customers coming back. These factors also create new customers,” he adds.
In today’s competitive environment, where quality is non-negotiable, turnaround time is a key differentiator and a fundamental factor in selecting an MRO operation. Minimizing downtime and keeping customers’ fleets in the air is certainly one of ACROHELIPRO’s most important goals. The company prides itself on continually raising the bar. In 2007, it announced that it had reduced turnaround times in performing 9,000-hour inspections on the Sikorsky model S-61 helicopter to an average turnaround time of five months. This compares favourably to an industry standard of eight months or more.
“There is no secret to our ability to exceed accepted industry standards of quality, reliability and turn-time,” says Kemp. “Rather, it’s a measure of the experience, expertise and dedication shown by our highly-trained technicians and support personnel.”
ACROHELIPRO operates three main facilities in North America: Richmond, B.C., Langley, B.C., and Andalusia, AL, with Rolls-Royce 250 engine shops located in Dallas TX and Van Nuys, CA. The Richmond facility is both the headquarters and the flagship of the company. Located at the Vancouver International Airport, the 158,000 sq. ft. facility employs approximately 360 people.
The company holds Transport Canada, EASA (JAA), CAA and DND approvals along with an extensive number of OEM approvals. ACROHELIPRO finds success in its diversity ranging from full service avionics support (and dealership services representing nearly 20 avionics manufacturers), to powerplant, airframe, structures, fabrication and completions work.
|ACROHELIPRO’s Richmond facility, located at the
Vancouver International Airport, employs
approximately 360 people.
The operation also provides solutions to operators through its ability to develop and implement Supplemental Type Certificates (STCs). Working closely with its customers, the company has produced 23 STCs since 1997 for a variety of aircraft types including Sikorsky’s S-61 and S-76 and Bell’s 206 and 427/430.
With a dearth of new aircraft available in the marketplace, retrofitting operational helicopters with state-of-the-art upgrades is an economically sound solution. Elvis Moniz, ACROHELIPRO’s director of avionics, points out that a major focus for the company is to identify and develop opportunities to provide safer, more reliable and cost-effective products and services to legacy helicopter operators.
For example, at HELI-EXPO 2007, ACROHELIPRO announced that in partnership with Sagem Avionics, Inc. it now offers Integrated Cockpit Display System (ICDS or “glass cockpit”) upgrades for Bell 205, Bell 206 and Bell 210 helicopter models.
For the Bell 206, the system consists of two 8-inch displays that effectively replace all electromechanical engine and navigational instruments. The system is capable of providing Traffic Awareness, Stormscope, Ground Proximity Warning, video (including FLIR, MaxViz, or L-3’s new IRIS system) and trend monitoring.
The Bell 205 and 210 variants will consist of three 10-inch ICDS displays, replacing all electro-mechanical engine instrumentation. It will also include a Multi-Function Display (MFD), with Engine Monitoring System (EMS) and an additional MFD to provide mapping data.
Moniz says that the decision to select the Bell 205 and 206 models as a priority was due mainly to the quantity of these models currently in operation. There are close to 4,000 JetRangers still out there today. He emphasizes that it is ACROHELIPRO’s intent to expand the glass cockpit upgrade to support additional models as the program continues to evolve. As a result of this work, there has also been a lot of interest shown by Bell 212 customers.
Besides the avionics work, ACROHELIPRO also specializes in powerplant, structures, dynamic component, accessory and composite projects.
The Richmond facility hosts five test cells and undertakes powerplant projects requiring NDT, balancing, reworks, machining, welding and brazing. The company has seven principal OEM engine repair and overhaul designations. These include: General Electric’s CT/T58, CT7/T700 and T64 series; Pratt & Whitney Canada’s PT6T Twin Pac series; Rolls-Royce’s series 1-4; and Turbomeca’s Arriel 1 series and Arriel 2 series.
| Mark Jensen, manager, avionics services, next to a
Bell JetRanger III
206B. The aircraft recently underwent
an avionics installation at the
On the structural side, the company has recently added to its arsenal of maintenance fixtures with the addition of a newly-commissioned, Bell-approved 406 airframe fixture. The company already maintains workaid fixtures for a variety of Bell , Sikorsky and Eurocopter aircraft, including cabin and tailboom fixtures for the Bell 206 A/B/L cabins and tailbooms, Bell 407 cabins (a 407 tailboom fixture is under construction) and Bell medium cabin and tailbooms for 204B, 205A-1, 212. 412, 214B, 214ST, UH – 1B/H models. Rounding out its Bell workaids are fixtures for the Bell cabin and tailboom for the 222, 230 and 430.
In addition to the Bell fixtures, the company maintains fixtures for AStar AS 350 and AS 355 cabins and tailbooms. They are also equipped with workaids that relate to Bell, Sikorsky and Eurocopter aircraft that are uncertified (not required) by the OEM but provide support in the repair of various airframes.
With the incredible amount of activity in the worldwide helicopter industry, ACROHELIPRO is currently in the process of expanding not only its capabilities and services but also its facilities.
In Langley, B.C., the company’s new 80,000 sq. ft. facility (Phase I) is scheduled to open at the Langley airport in April 2008. The Langley facility will continue to be the main location for the company’s avionics, structures, completions and fabrication work. It is also the site for its ongoing contract work with the Canadian Forces, performing first-line maintenance support on CH-146 Griffons based at 8Wings Trenton, Ont., and inspections on the CH-146 Griffon.
|The company maintains a large library of avionics harness templates at its Langley location.
||Shown here is a Bell-approved structural repair fixture for 205 A1 / 212 / 214B / 412 / 204 cabins.|
And in Andalusia, AL, ACROHELIPRO has partnered with the Andalusia-Opp Airport Authority and the Covington County Economic Development Commission for the construction of 36,700 sq. ft. helicopter maintenance facility, located at the Andalusia-Opp Airport. The newer, larger maintenance facility has the capacity for a future expansion of 20,000 sq. ft. and opportunity for an increase in employment for local skilled tradespersons. Estimates indicate that ACROHELIPRO will experience a workforce increase of approximately 100 per cent from the current level of 55 employees to more than 100.
With these new facilities and services, and the option for further expansion down the road, ACROHELIPRO now finds itself well positioned to take advantage of the increasing demand for helicopter MRO services in North America and throughout the world.