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Say AAR - but say it quietly...

Posted 1 June 2017 · Add Comment

The AAR Corporation may prefer to stay clear of the limelight but, as Alan Warnes found our, it certainly knows what it's doing.

AAR Corporation, based near Chicago’s O’Hare Airport in Illinois, supports many governments all over the world… but you might not know.
It also has a fleet of its own aircraft, but none wear a livery broadcasting their presence.
Rahul Shah, senior vice president, strategic growth and business development Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa said: “AAR has been running for 62 years and has increased its profits every year except for the one in the wake of September 11.
“We are successful because we specialise in ‘best practices’ in our component repairs and depot-level maintenance and supply chain, coupled with robust IT technologies and procedures.”
AAR is a company carving a nice niche for itself providing complete logistics support (CLS), MRO and contracting airlift in the government and defence world.
Under its AAR Airlift Group, the company provides aerial transport services, using its own fleet or customer aircraft, to enable government and defence customers to transport personnel, supplies and mail in austere and harsh environments around the world.
With a rotational base of pilots, flight crew, and maintenance and logistics professionals, the group provides turnkey aviation solutions to customers.
On the government side, AAR’s initial rise to prominence came from supporting the US Government’s needs, primarily in the Middle East.
But, now, AAR is also collaborating directly with US allies, working in Abu Dhabi with the Advanced Military Maintenance Repair and Overhaul Center (AMMROC), and providing CLS (also known as performance-based logistics) work for foreign fleets and flight-hour support for airlines worldwide.
In South Africa, it is supporting the national airline’s fleet of 70 aircraft in a pay-per-hour component contract, out of Johannesburg.
According to Randy Martinez, senior vice president for AAR’s strategy and business development: “We tailor our services to the customer’s needs; we don’t have a fixed menu.” He then provided an insight into the way the business is moving: “We saw the performance-based logistics/flight-hour business make up about 20% of the global aerospace sector’s trade during 2005-08; now its around 37-40% and by 2025 some estimate that it will reach 60%,” he said. “While this is just the commercial sector, the military may follow a similar kind of pattern.”
AAR Airlift has been working in Afghanistan providing helicopter and fixed-wing airlift support. At the peak of business in the country, the AAR Airlift Group was the largest single contractor providing airlift support by some margin. However, since the US military scaled back its efforts there, the fleet size has also been reduced accordingly.
Supply chain work in Afghanistan includes a five-year, CLS foreign military sales (FMS) deal worth approximately $72 million to sustain the Afghan Air Force’s fleet of four C-130Hs – the company’s first C-130 CLS contract.
Under the deal with the US Air Force, AAR provides all operational, maintenance, logistics and technical functions needed to support and sustain fleet readiness requirements within Afghanistan.
AAR is known in the US for its impressive MRO network and now it is sharing its expertise with local partners overseas. For instance, it is working in Abu Dhabi with AMMROC to set up a state-of-the-art military MRO.
AMMROC, a joint venture between Mubadala, Sikorsky and Lockheed Martin, selected AAR in December 2014 to support its creation of a new aerospace facility at Al Ain.
Under a $38.6 million contract, AAR is assisting in the design, outfitting and integration of key areas in AMMROC’s state-of-the-art facility. The support areas it is working on include hangars, work areas, and machine and special processes shops for the military maintenance centre.
Martinez added: “We have set up a large network of MRO facilities in North America, so we have the skills and experience to put the systems in place needed to run a world class MRO facility.”
With AAR’s MRO know-how, AMMROC is aiming to work on 45 different variants of platforms, spanning 36 types, which will total more than 500 aircraft.
AAR is targeting the implementation of common procedures with work on eight platforms, A330 MRTT, AH-64, CH-47, C-17, C-130, F-16, Mirage 2000 and UH-60, now under way.
“AAR is the third largest independent MRO in the world and the largest MRO in the USA – we know what we are doing,” Martinez emphasized.
In September 2015, the US Department of State awarded AAR Airlift its biggest ever deal, a 10.5-year contract, potentially worth up to $10 billion, to provide airlift support for its International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL/A) bureau.
Any contract worth that much has to be exciting, but the success has been tempered by DynCorp International. The company, which is the incumbent and has been running the INL/A’s CLS contract for 25 years, has filed numerous protests and a lawsuit against the US Government that is expected to be heard by August.
The Government Accounting Office (GAO) upheld the award decision on December 20 last year, but AAR cannot commence work until the lawsuit hearing. Under the programme, AAR Airlift will provide maintenance, operations, and logistical support to the fixed and rotary-wing aircraft fleet for the Department of State’s INL/A.
AAR Airlift also supports the UN and the US military in Africa.
“We work with the US Department of Defense in several locations,” said Shah. “These include Niger, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and the Central African Republic, using CASA 212s and Sikorsky S-61Ns [from AAR’s subsidiary, EP Aviation] that are ideal for the rugged airfields you often have to fly from in Africa.”
On February 7 this year, the United States Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) awarded AAR Airlift a $204.2 million contract to provide aviation services throughout the USAF’s Africa Command (AFRICOM) area of responsibility. This will cover the provision of fixed- and rotary-wing aviation services that include cargo and passenger transportation, as well as casualty evacuation (CASEVAC).
 

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