Russell Shelton, president of the engine strategy group at global aviation integrator GA Telesis shares his insight on the company’s long-term engine MRO strategy, Turbine Vision 2020.
GA Telesis announced its Turbine Vision 2020 strategy in July. The aim of the strategy is to integrate the company’s aircraft engine technology know-how and consolidate all aspects of component, hospital, and complete engine MRO services into integrated offerings, coupled with technology and maintenance financing programmes.
Turbine Vision 2020 will also include developing an engine component repair business from the company’s existing back-shop capabilities and the plan is to acquire additional component MROs focused on turbine engine technologies. The company says it will also develop a globally positioned network of subsidiary special procedure aero-engine hospitals and build-out additional engine platform maintenance capabilities at existing MRO units.
GE Aviation veteran Russell Shelton who recently retired from GE was appointed as president of the Turbine Vision 2020 strategy in August. We caught up with Shelton to find out more about his first few months in this exciting role and learn how the strategy will be implemented. So, how has Shelton found his first months as president of the engine strategy group? “I have been very fortunate over the course of my career to have many excellent mentors”, he notes. “Every one of them told me that joining GA Telesis would be the smartest thing I have ever done. In a nutshell, it is the smartest thing I have ever done. I have been blessed to join an extremely intelligent, creative, inquisitive, aggressive and fun team.”
Regarding overseeing Turbine Vision 2020, Shelton says that the company’s objective is to intelligently redefine aviation services. “The core of Turbine Vision 2020 is to make our customers more efficient. When you go to the gate to catch a flight, the aircraft is essentially there waiting for you. However, the costs to the airline to put it there are staggering. Every supplier variation must be accounted for. Every task for turning the aircraft, which now includes super cleaning, has to be performed. It is a long list of expenses.”
Spare engine availability and engine MRO are a substantial portion of this, Shelton notes. “The key to minimising costs is to reduce variation. Information and logistics are essential to achieving meaningful reductions. Actual service is a big deal in the service business. Our goal is for our customers to place a demand that is filled when they need it.”
The engine heavy maintenance unit of GA Telesis, GA Telesis Engine Services (GATES), is based in Finland. In a recent innovative development for the unit, it announced a significant upgrade to its customer support services in August. The unit is introducing an innovative remote table inspection solution to its current and future customers as a countermeasure to the global travel difficulties and social distancing due to Covid-19. Regarding how the operation in Finland performing, Shelton says Covid has impacted the entire industry and GATES Finland is no exception. “The year began at a record pace and has slowed considerably since then. That said, we will end the year within shouting distance of our volume goals”, he reveals.
There certainly are opportunities for GA Telesis in the current market – as Shelton says, engines must be maintained for commercial aviation to function. “The nature of the opportunities have changed and are changing on a daily basis. There is a much greater emphasis on lighter and quicker workscopes. The reality though is that we are in a time of great flux and the opportunities change constantly. We are focused on being nimble and quick so that we can leverage the full weight of the GA Telesis product portfolio to serve our customers.”
When it comes to the long-term impact of Covid-19 on the engine MRO market, Shelton is optimistic. “Jack Welch once said that you have to have a short term before you can have a long term. The industry is going to struggle through the short term and there will likely be structural changes to the way MRO services are provided. Travel will return and the long term looks very bright. We will just have to weather the storm to get there.”