BAE Systems is to develop a more regionalised African strategy to support the growing numbers of its commercial aircraft now in operation across the continent. The British aerospace company says over 20 operators now fly some 50 of its aircraft.
Speaking at its first ever African operators’ conference, in Johannesburg, last week, Sean McGovern, BAE Systems Regional Aircraft director for business support said this fleet was growing. “We are placing growing numbers of our portfolio aircraft into African countries, and third parties are also finding Africa a very receptive market for our products,” he said.
“With such a head of steam building up, we have decided to regionalise our support to provide a more responsive service to African operators. We are looking to work with local industry to help support repair and overhaul facilities for components to ensure more convenient access for African operators and continued competitive operating costs and reliability. We are also exploring the possibility of setting up a regional spares centre.”
The company says South Africa has proven to be an attractive market for the 70-110 seat BAe 146/Avro RJ regional jetliner “and today there are four operators of the type in the country.” Two of these provide aircraft and crew for other African operators, such as Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Kenya and Republic of the Congo. “Beyond these, additional aircraft are operating in Libya,” Nigel Benson, BAE Systems Regional Aircraft Director Sales for Sub-Saharan Africa,adds.
“The time is right for the BAe 146/Avro RJ in Africa. The aircraft’s combination of exceptional hot and high airfield performance, competitive economics and affordability makes it ideally suited for regional operators seeking to expand jet services.” The latest deals for the aircraft include SA Airlink’s acquisition of four Avro RJ85s for domestic and regional airline services, and the sale of five BAe 146s to African Airline Investments for use in its growing aircraft leasing operations across sub-Saharan Africa.
Turboprop aircraft built by BAE Systems are also in service across the Continent. The 29-seat Jetstream 41 has been a mainstay of regional operations with SA Airlink for many years and also operates in Angola and the Comores Islands. The smaller 18-19-seat Jetstream 31/32 serves with operators in Libya, Morocco, Senegal and Zambia.
McGovern and Benson called the conference “very successful” with around 50 delegates from African operators, major support service providers, maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facilities and other interested parties attending. BAE Systems traditionally holds an annual operator’s conference in the UK, reflecting a strong European customer base, and these forums are valuable gatherings for the exchange of information relating to aircraft operations, support, safety and continued airworthiness issues.
But with growing numbers of aircraft now being placed further afield, BAE Systems held its first Asian Operators Conference in Jakarta earlier this year. A further conference for Latin American operators is likely early in 2011.