M International, Inc will exhibit at the inaugural Vertical Flight Expo & Conference this year where subsidiaries of the company, including Keystone Turbine Services, will be on stand to explain its diverse range of services. Vice President, Chuck Hurdleston, speaks to us about the specific challenges for engine suppliers and maintenance providers along with why he wouldn’t miss the show at Farnborough International in November.
Can you give us some background about Keystone Turbine Services, its history and the services and capabilities it provides?
Keystone (a subsidiary of M International, Inc.) has been servicing and supporting the Rolls-Royce M250 series of gas turbine engine and related components since 1976. As an award-winning Rolls-Royce certified M250 Authorized Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul Center (AMROC) plus FAA/EASA certificated Part 145 Repair Station, Keystone offers a full range of gas turbine engine Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul programs for all M250 series Engines, Modules, Accessories and Components including turboshaft and turboprop variants. As a Honeywell certificated Authorised Warranty and Repair Station (AWARS), we also have full capability to repair, overhaul or exchange all series of M250 accessories plus Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC) PT6A and PT6T series fuel and air accessories.
Can you tell us about the key themes/topics for Keystone Turbine Services at this year’s show?
Besides Keystone, our goal is to showcase M International’s entire portfolio including Airborne Engines, Ltd; MINT Turbines, LLC; Southwest Fuel Systems and our Distribution Division. Collectively, we globally support a wide range of gas turbine engines and related components including Rolls-Royce M250; P&WC PT6A and PT6T and Honeywell T53 MRO services plus T55 spare parts and supply chain management which includes technical/field service support and training.
What can attendees expect to see on your stand?
This year, instead of bedazzling attendees with flashy gimmicks, slogans and marketing materials, we’ve decided to keep it simple, preferring instead to have old-school “face-to-face” conversations on how we can help solve your engine, module, accessory and spare part MRO needs plus supply chain assistance. We’re looking forward to getting to know attendees on a deeper level, something a brochure or video cannot address and what makes shows like Vertical Flight Expo so important to our industry.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing the industry at the moment?
I see a two-fold issue here: first, OEM’s are scaling back on producing and stocking of new spare parts and material, which places a further burden on the MRO provider to support their product plus the end-user who’s relying on their aircraft to stay in the air and earn a living. Second, many of us “seasoned” industry veterans are now rapidly progressing towards retirement age and the lack of a younger generation with the desire to learn the skillsets needed to fill our shoes is becoming critical. The first is easily solvable; however, the latter has been an industry topic of concern for over ten years with no clear resolution in sight.
What are the demands from operators when it comes to helicopters engines?
Every customer desires their engine to be completed and returned quickly with high quality, more power and always at a cheaper price! Within the last ten years, we’ve seen more and more engines, accessories and components arriving at our facilities simply worn out; therefore, an operator’s final cost to maintain these units is always increasing due to the need to replace these worn-out items with new parts. As I’ve always said: “Time Is Money” … if you need it right away, your costs will increase due to the greater amount of new material embodied. However, if you’re willing to give us extra time to source serviceable material, your costs generally will come down as it’s always a trade-off between time vs. money. The salient point here is to have this trade-off discussion with your favourite MRO supplier ‘in advance’, as you consider your units servicing vs. turn time requirements.
On average how long does it take to turn an engine around?
Well, that depends upon various factors including current shop loading; spare parts availability (new and serviceable) plus unique OEM/customer and work scope requirements. Although I’ve seen engines turned in as little as 15 days, current averages are more in the 40-60 days range for a complete overhaul.
To what extent is MRO part of your business?
Approximately 95% is MRO-related and 5% spare parts support.
How do you assess what servicing requirements are needed?
It all boils down to having an in-depth conversation with each customer and understanding their needs in detail. Inevitably a customer will advise they require a certain service, however as we dig deeper, we uncover additional information which steers the requirement in a new direction. Many times, we’ve helped guide a customer towards other alternatives, and that’s something I’m most proud of – providing customers with options.
What do you think is the most exciting upcoming trend in the vertical flight industry?
The expansion of drone technology and incorporation of electrically powered aircraft. Very soon, because of their ease of operation and maintenance plus the lowering of acquisition costs, we’ll all have the freedom to possess and operate our own personal aircraft. However, that freedom also comes with inherent risks and responsibilities, therefore it’s also up to our industry to ensure these risks and responsibilities are properly conveyed.
What are you most looking forward to at this year’s Vertical Flight Expo?
With the change in location to Farnborough this year, we’re hoping to meet with a larger audience of both operators and maintenance personnel. When you think of the rich aviation history in the area, plus the many things to see and do in London, it should be a great time for both exhibitor and attendee alike. My Team is attending all three days so please stop by Stand C40, say “hello” and let’s have a conversation!