[Interview] Vince Goncalves Regional Vice President Africa at ExecuJet MRO Services
Could you tell us about your company?
ExecuJet MRO Services (ExecuJet) is a leading global multi-OEM MRO company with a strong presence around the world. It was founded in 1991 in South Africa, and then later established MRO businesses in Dubai, Australia, Malaysia, and Belgium as well as a franchise in Tianjin, China.
In 2019, ExecuJet became a member of the Dassault group of companies. ExecuJet specialises in airframe, avionics and engine maintenance, and it supports various types of business jets including those manufactured by original aircraft manufacturers (OEMs) such as Dassault Aviation, Bombardier, Embraer Hawker and Gulfstream.
While ExecuJet is a factory-owned Dassault MRO, it treats all OEMs equally. The technicians at ExecuJet are trained and certified on a wide range of business aircraft. The facilities hold multiple approvals including various national civil aviation regulators as well as the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and Federal Aviation Authority (FAA).
As an organisation, ExecuJet prides itself on culture of customer service and has won multiple international awards for its service excellence.
What industry/industries do you service?
ExecuJet MRO Services is well-known and respected brand in the business aviation sector doing both line and heavy maintenance. It is also able to maintain some commercial aircraft types – for example, the Embraer ERJ-135/145.
What is your company’s growth strategy for 2023?
ExecuJet MRO Services in South Africa was recently appointed by Embraer as its authorised service centre (ASC) for business jets in Africa. We will be supporting Embraer Legacy 600 and 650 business jets through line and heavy maintenance services, including warranty work. Under this agreement, we will continue to expand our capabilities to include Embraer’s entry-level and light jet family: the Phenom 100 and 300 series aircraft.
We will also continue to invest in more tooling to support the Embraer product and have already inducted qualified engineers to support the growing demand of the Embraer Phenom 300 series in Africa.
This year, we were also certified by the civil aviation bodies of Aruba and Malawi and will perform line and heavy maintenance on select aircraft types on those country’s aircraft registry.
These certifications, which enhances our capability, will further help cement ExecuJet’s position as regional multi-OEM MRO service centre in Africa.
What are the long-term ambitions you’re aiming for, as an organization?
We plan to add more aircraft types to our MRO repertoire and expand our capability beyond airframe heavy maintenance to include cabin interior refurbishment work. By bundling airframe heavy maintenance checks with cabin refurbishment work we can provide more value to the customer and reduce the aircraft’s downtime. As the need for heavy maintenance on other aircraft types develops, ExecuJet MRO Services will expand its capabilities to include these aircraft types.
How will Africa develop in the Aviation industry in 2023 and how your companies can contribute?
Africa is one of the burgeoning markets for business jets with a total of 52 aircraft joining the fleet, according to data from market intelligence provider Jetnet. Business jet activity in Africa has witnessed a surge and jumped by 25% in May alone.
The African business aviation market is expected to grow year-on-year. Apart from the more developed markets such as South Africa and Nigeria, emerging markets such as Angola, Uganda and Ghana are becoming important players in the industry.
Until last year, business jet activity throughout the region remained with older fleet comprising Citation, Learjets, and Hawkers but there has been a shift in purchasing new business jets and newer pre-owned jets.
Business jets are vital for business in Africa because there are still many domestic airports with no reliable commercial air service and in terms of international flights, the continent still lacks the desired air connectivity to Europe, Asia, the Middle East, North America, etc.
As Africa’s business aircraft fleet expands within the region, maintenance needs are amplified. These trends create ample opportunities for business aviation sector and ancillary industries in the continent. In this market, ExecuJet MRO Services envisages to be a one-stop shop to assist clients and operators in all their maintenance requirements encompassing line, base maintenance, aircraft pre-purchase inspections, cabin interior refurbishments and avionics upgrades or modifications.
What are the opportunities for aviation Industry in Africa in 2023?
Thanks to Africa’s growing population and abundance of resources, economic activity will continue to shift to this part of the world. Growth of business aviation is very much in line with GDP growth.
The growing demand for business aviation air services, creates opportunity to develop the related aviation infrastructure. Fixed-based operations – the businesses responsible for aircraft refuelling and provision of aircraft parking and passenger terminals – still remain few and far between in Africa. So, there is more opportunity to develop more FBOs in Africa.
As the business jet increases in size, it will also drive demand for maintenance services, fuelling demand for more MRO companies in-region. Only countries such as South Africa, Nigeria and Kenya have business aviation MRO facilities.
Any news or information from your organization you’d like to share?
Our Dubai operation recently took occupation of its new purpose-built facility at Dubai South. The facility can accommodate 18-24 business jets at one time and was intentionally sized to handle the very largest business jets, including the Falcon 6X and 10X, as well as large jets from other OEM’s. The new 15,344m2 (165,211ft2) MRO facility at Dubai’s Al Maktoum International Airport (DWC) includes a hangar as well as adjacent workshops and offices. The new MRO facility will become ExecuJet’s new regional headquarters in Dubai. The company moved base maintenance to DWC from Dubai International Airport (DXB), although it will retain AOG capability at DXB.
Furthermore, our Malaysia operation is also in the process of building a new purpose-built facility. The new facility will have a gross floor area of approximately 149,500ft2 including corporate offices, customer areas and back shops that further expand ExecuJet’s MRO capabilities. The ultra-large aircraft hangar will be able to accommodate 10 to 15 business jets of various sizes simultaneously plus there will be a large, dedicated apron area for use.
A major milestone was reached in March 2023, with the installation of the two central columns. Each column is made of forged steel and is 12 meters long and weighs 45 tons. The installation of these columns is an important milestone. These two columns are the first structural part of the hangar to be installed and are there to support the weight of the hangar roof.
In the first phase of construction, foundation works including piles and pile-caps that prepare the site for the superstructure were laid, completing the groundwork after which the two steel columns were installed. Construction is progressing as planned with the start of the roof structure and offices under way.
Vince Goncalves Regional Vice President Africa at ExecuJet MRO Services