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PAL Aerospace is on the hunt for maintenance, materiel, information technology and other support talent to staff the Royal Canadian Air Force’s (RCAF’s) four search and rescue main operating bases.
Twenty months after the federal government selected 16 Airbus CC-295W fixed-wing search and rescue aircraft to replace six CC-115 Buffalos and 12 CC-130 H-model Hercules, St. John’s, N.L.-based PAL is ready to hire the team that will deliver in-service support (ISS) for the new fleet.
“PAL Aerospace will be providing a wide assortment of program management services as we prepare to undertake the maintenance and logistics support, heavy maintenance, including a mobile repair team, and centralize supply chain management activities for this aircraft,” Eva Martinez, vice-president of ISS, told the Abbotsford Aerospace, Defence and Security Expo (ADSE) in August.
As a supplier to Airbus, PAL is responsible for maintenance and material support of the new fleet, providing an integrated team of aircraft maintenance engineers (AMEs), warehouse and tool crib personnel, a technical library and a contractor field office at four main operating bases in Comox, B.C., Winnipeg, Man., Trenton, Ont., and Greenwood, N.S. Each base will require around 11 people.
PAL will also establish and maintain a maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility in Winnipeg for heavy maintenance work. The shop will be co-located with its central warehouse, and will be home base for the mobile repair team. In total, PAL expects to hire around 28 people to staff the facility.
As for material, PAL will provide ground support equipment, a 30-day supply of aircraft consumables at each base, personal protective equipment, and shipping and handling of all aircraft spare parts, said Martinez, an aerospace engineer who served 13 years in the Air Force.
Through a joint venture with Airbus called AirPro, PAL will collaborate on the integration of all ISS services.
“Our hiring target as it stands right now is 73,” she said. “As we work with Canada and Airbus to fully define the maintenance tasks, we could see an increase in the level of effort required…for AMEs.”
That workload is based in part on RCAF plans to locate three CC-295W at each base. Two more will reside with the operational training unit in Comox while a final two will serve as floaters.
“They will be moved around depending on the induction into heavy maintenance as well as the operational tempo,” said Martinez.
Comox, which will include the RCAF’s new search and rescue training centre, will stand up in 2019 to coincide with the arrival of the first aircraft, expected by the end of next year. The front, mid and rear fuselage sections have been delivered to Airbus’s pre-final assembly line in Tablada, Spain, and the final aircraft is expected to roll out in the first quarter of 2019.
“Once the first wave of AMEs are hired, then we’ll be looking to hire the rest of the logistical and administrative staff to support the operations in Comox,” said Martinez.
Though the timelines may shift slightly, Trenton is expected to be ready by 2020, followed by Greenwood and Winnipeg in 2021. The central warehouse and MRO facility “will be fully set up by 2022, possibly earlier as there are talks of an earlier induction of the aircraft into heavy maintenance,” said Martinez.
In addition to the hiring blitz, Martinez said PAL is also exploring potential partnerships with suppliers “to help us meet our contractual obligations and our general supply chain requirements.”
As a tier 1 supplier to the Airbus contract, PAL is expected to meet the Canadian government’s industrial and technological benefit (ITB) requirements, which require investments in Canadian companies and industry and academic research equal to the value of the contract.
PAL has hosted several supplier engagement events across the country and is working with the Offset Market Exchange (OMX) procurement platform to inform and identify companies.
“We will be looking for Canadian suppliers that will help us meet those obligations,” she said.