Having a paint facility is essential for an MRO aiming to be a ‘one-stop-shop’, as Etihad Airways Engineering discovered.
Hangar 3A was always the paint facility for the company, says Frédéric Dupont, vice president of technical sales and customer service at Etihad Airways Engineering, which was capable of holding up to an Airbus A330.
However, as Etihad Airways Engineering began to win overhaul contracts for larger A340 and Boeing 777 aircraft, and to carry out more lease transition work that required a full repaint, there was a need for more capacity and a larger space.
In 2015, Hangar 5 was converted into a dual use maintenance/paint hangar.
For the painting role, it was important to take account of climatic conditions in Abu Dhabi, so additional chillers were installed for enhanced air conditioning and temperature control along with improved thermal insulation, while an improved drainage system was fitted to suit stripping and painting requirements.
The hangar has also been equipped with an aircraft docking system, which can be customised to serve different types of aircraft, both for maintenance and paint. He notes that while the new facility is more sophisticated, there is only one day’s difference in turnaround time, which he attributes to skills of the multinational workforce.
One of their achievements was being the first MRO to completely strip and repaint a Boeing 787.
As around 90 per cent of paint requirements are for third party customers, this has been a worthwhile investment, he adds, although, while the Airbus A380 has become an important part of the MRO business and is a mainstay of the Etihad fleet, there is no business case for a very large paint hangar.
There is capacity close at hand in Dubai, either at Emirates or, in the near future, at Satys Sealing & Painting (formerly STTS), which is expecting to open a paint facility at the new Dubai South airport in early 2019.
Because so much of the work is for external customers, he says the choice of materials is dictated by them, so the team is used to working with products from all the major paint manufacturers.
Complex paint schemes are not a challenge either, not least the parent airline’s own livery, which features a mix of geometric shapes and different finishes. While the airline has been taking many new aircraft off the production line, the MRO has repainted a number of older aircraft.
Another speciality is a Formula 1 colour scheme aircraft, which promotes the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on the network and makes a low-level pass over the track just before the race starts.
Some schemes are a mix of paint and graphics. A locally important colour scheme was revealed earlier this year on an A390 that made extensive use of decals. The ‘Year of Zayed’ livery celebrates the centenary of the birth of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Founding Father of the UAE, who passed away in 2004.
This is one of a number of initiatives by Etihad extensive to mark the occasion, based on the four ‘Year of Zayed’ themes of wisdom, respect, sustainability and human development.
Guests travelling on the A380 are also provided with content and services inspired by the late Sheikh Zayed, including themed inflight entertainment, kids’ packs and a photo gallery of his life.
In this case, an outside supplier was used but the MRO has an in-house large-format decal production facility with the capability to design, approve and manufacture large scale decals for external fuselage applications.
Visit etihadengineering.com for more information.