“From [an operator's] perspective, the more competitors, the better the cost. From a competitor's perspective, the more competitors, the thinner the margins,” says Steve Rehrmann, principal of aircraft fleet valuation specialists CK Aviation Services. “Going forward, it is likely that some of the current providers of [RJ] maintenance will exit the arena as their fleets dwindle,” effectively decreasing competitors.
Norman says his team is realistic about Cincinnati's potential. The 125,000-sq. ft. hangar space can accommodate at least five RJs—plenty of capacity to handle the demand. “Cincinnati will never be the size of Greensboro,” Norman acknowledges, “but our vision is to fill those five lines over time. It won't happen tomorrow, it will take time. But we are confident” it will happen.
He notes that Timco, which has eyed the RJ market for some time, could have set up shop at either of its large heavy maintenance facilities—its 600,000-sq.-ft. Greensboro headquarters or its similarly sized location in Lake City, Fla. But the opportunity to acquire an existing, purpose-built RJ operation near the middle of the country was too good to pass up.
Local economic incentives further boosted the facility's appeal, which sits in Northern Kentucky. The Kentucky Economic Development Finance Authority approved up to $1.7 million in tax credits based on Timco creating 165 full-time jobs over 10 years at an average annual salary of $50,000.
The company is confident that the Cincinnati operation will drive growth in its existing business lines. Norman notes a natural synergy with Timco's composite structures shop in Greensboro, which repairs common items like flight-control surfaces and exterior doors, but does not perform any regional jet work. “If the volume is there, an extension of that [facility] is growing into piece parts for RJs,” he says. “Getting parts from Cincinnati to Greensboro is not that difficult.”
Another long-term growth opportunity: interiors. Timco Aerosystems has its own line of new interiors products, including seats, galleys and lavs. “We have an interest in penetrating the RJ market,” Norman acknowledges.
Filling the newly acquired maintenance lines in Cincinnati may get a boost from yet another Timco business area: line maintenance. The company has 20 line maintenance bases across the U.S., including one in Cincinnati, and they serve many RJs. “There's an opportunity for us to reach out to our customers and offer airframe maintenance as well,” Norman says. “I envision a day where, if a carrier needed it, we could do emergency field service out of Cincinnati to our [RJ] customers across the U.S.”