Headquartered in Switzerland, RUAG boasts core competencies across civil and military markets, supporting land, sea and air defence operations, space and commercial and business aviation. The company has manufacturing expertise in aerostructures and across a range of high-tech engineering; it is also recognised as the OEM for the Dornier 228 utility turboprop.
Its Aviation Division offers through-life support to a variety of civilian and military aircraft types, including the Swiss Air Force F/A-18 Hornet and Super Puma/Cougar fleets, and single-source MRO for operators of business and VIP aircraft. A company spokesperson explained: “RUAG’s business jet locations provide a comprehensive portfolio of one-stop shop aircraft support services. We focus on achieving productivity while providing all services from one supplier,” explains Volker Wallrodt, Senior Vice President Business Jets, Dornier 228 & Components, RUAG Aviation.
“The full breadth of engineering expertise and solutions, including avionics upgrades, full C-checks, optimised downtimes – which might include cabin interior work and exterior paint jobs – and all support are available from our locations at Bern, Geneva, Lugano and Munich, depending on aircraft type rating.” Such is the efficiency of the operation, that when an aircraft requires a visit to RUAG’s Munich painting facility, the Swiss sites use the transits to and from Germany to fulfil the requirements for technical flights after MRO work. “The result is fluid, productive, on-schedule work managed from one source, while our in-house components shop in Munich guarantees a three-day turnaround on aircraft components for the industry at large, as well as for our customers at all locations. Additionally, extensive in-house engineering capability – up to and including STCs – enables RUAG to offer a broad repair service portfolio, which makes a long downtime even more productive for the customer.”
Other RUAG services include landing gear MRO and the provision of ‘loaner sets’, from Interlaken (near Berne), plus detailed landing gear inspection and line maintenance for Bombardier aircraft systems, from Munich. Landing gear work can require lengthy downtimes, but RUAG’s organic capability helps avoid the need to send equipment away for inspection and painting. The loaner option becomes important when lengthy work is unavoidable.
On the Line
Line maintenance is a standard RUAG offering, including engine line maintenance contracts with Rolls-Royce, General Electric and Honeywell. Wallrodt says line maintenance is available ‘wherever our customers need us to be’, explaining how it fits with the base maintenance side of the business: “Our range of services, including AOG, and base and line maintenance, is a direct result of the conscious decision to provide a comprehensive portfolio of aircraft support services, from one source and typically during a single downtime. If you prioritise individual customer needs, then your business plan needs to prioritise the services and tools needed to fulfil the mission.
RUAG has earned a particular reputation for its spectacular aircraft paint schemes and Wallrodt identifies the company’s extensive finishing capabilities as crucial to its stated one-stop shop concept. Painting services extend beyond the exterior to include interior work, both structural and in the cabin, and RUAG also completes jobs for other MRO providers. “They come to us because they know we consistently provide the highest quality aircraft painting – they know our expertise pleases their customer base too. We also have designers approaching us to execute their creations, thanks to our reputation for high accuracy in transferring complex designs onto a 3D aircraft.”
RUAG’s expert painters ensure aircraft exteriors remain within regulatory specifications, rather than adding layers of new coating and colour, maintaining the integrity of the protective finishing coat and guaranteeing the use of environmentally responsible materials. They also perform partial painting and touch-ups, especially when aircraft are in for scheduled maintenance, and while RUAG may have won plaudits for its stunning exteriors, it is this partial painting and touch-up work that really proves the level of craftsmanship. “The new work must blend seamlessly with the existing paint and coatings. Partial painting and touch-ups are often required after incidents, including lightning strikes, which could leave the exterior surface open to corrosion.”
Exceptional though its service might be, RUAG recognises that its customers have plenty of options in a fiercely competitive MRO market and works hard to offer the latest techniques and technologies, combined with the standard of delivery with which it is synonymous. “The cyclic nature of the MRO business and competition in the industry, now including OEM-run facilities, means we’re constantly vigilant about fulfilling customer needs and expectations with the highest quality, reliable services over our entire one-stop shop portfolio.
“Delivering aircraft to full customer satisfaction after any visit helps ensure we see that customer and their aircraft again. Our steadfast emphasis on delivering all services, from integrating engineering solutions, through heavy checks, to cabin interiors, component MRO and calibration, pre-purchase inspections and FBO visits from one organisation according to customer expectations and priorities, that’s what continues to drive the business forward.”
Looking ahead, RUAG sees the business changing slightly as the volume of avionics upgrades associated with the ADS-B Out compliance mandate for 2020 increases industry wide. And with fluctuating jet sales, it also sees an increasing number of older aircraft passing out of warranty status and requiring specialist expertise during heavy checks and to ensure they achieve their full life cycle potential. “We believe we’re the logical partner for this type of support, as an authorised service centre or MRO for Bombardier, Cirrus, Dassault, Diamond, Embraer, Piaggio, Piper, Textron and Viking.
Our engineering expertise and EASA Part 21J Design Organization Approval (Part 21G Production Organization and Part 145 Maintenance Organization) status enables us to continue serving our customers with state-of-the-art solutions. Meanwhile, we continuously develop specific solutions and STCs that allow business jet owners and operators to make the most of their productivity and profit options.”