Chasing the ‘Novembers’Fri, 12/01/2017 - 10:28
Keeping up with technology and electronics in the MRO market is a challenge and certifications are a must if companies want to attract and retain clients, says Ruth Gutiérrez, General Manager of Aero Servicios Especializados del Noreste (ASENSA), which has acquired the FAA 145 certification that allows shops based outside the US to fix US airplanes.
“We need to adapt to a changing market,” adds Carlos Díez, Director General of ASENSA. The company covered the 2020 requirements for the FAA 145 in Mexico up to Jan. 1, 2020, ensuring programs, systems and methods of compliance are thoroughly reviewed and tested. The company also enjoys DGAC authorization. ASENSA’s main business is with executives living in the US and traveling to Mexico for work. For that reason, 50 percent of the airplanes Gutiérrez and Diez’s team see are registered as “Novembers,” otherwise known as aircraft registered with US plates.
The main aircraft brands ASENSA specializes in are King Air, Citation and Robinson, but the company also works with engines like Lycoming, Continental, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce. ASENSA also repairs and maintains Hartzell and McCauley propellers. Since November 2016, the company has been able to offer its services to American helicopters that arrive to Nuevo Leon. “Also, we invested in technology like Garmin’s Aspen, a datalink transponder incorporating all the electronic parts of navigation and everything in aircraft. We are one of the top five shops in Mexico, offering services for Piper, Cessna, Maule, Hawker Beechcraft and Robinson aircraft,” says Díez.
Gutiérrez says that keeping up with MRO services can be an exciting challenge because aviation is dependent on the value of the dollar, so any exchange-rate alteration affects the Mexican market. This directly hits bottom lines. “The market slowed after the exchange rate jumped to MX$23 to the dollar at the beginning of 2017. This changed midyear, the market grew and we started to see customers requesting services again.” Fortunately, the company has diverse services, including pre-purchase inspections, storage and administration for aircraft.
The company’s primary work is maintenance for corporations and aircraft owners, representing 80 percent of their business. Work can vary throughout the year, seeing peaks at times like Easter. The profile of ASENSA’s clients is varied because every company or plane owner uses transportation differently. Customers who fly frequently may visit the shop every 100 hours or less. There are many private aircraft owners in Mexico and the US, giving MROs in Nuevo Leon an excellent opportunity to grow, to bring equipment from the US and perform services.
ASENSA’s expectations for 2017 are positive. It aims to launch a marketing campaign in the US to demonstrate that the country has experts that are qualified to address any inconvenience during a trip to Mexico, and that a visit to a repair shop in Mexico is much cheaper than in the US. The FAA 145 certification is integral to attracting more Novembers to the workshop. The idea is that anyone flying close to Monterrey, for instance Texas or the Southern US, could make stop at ASENSA and save money.
Another plan is to expand its services to other cities. Díez and Gutiérrez are considering a location in the south of Mexico as a new strategy to secure US customers on their way to South America. In the short-term, ASENSA will handle business jets as it has the personnel and infrastructure ready to implement these operations.