South African Airways Technical (SAAT) and US aeroengine maker Pratt & Whitney on Tuesday signed an agreement for the repair and overhaul of the latter’s JT9D-7R4G2 jet engines. This deal is worth at least R233-million and will ensure that SAAT’s jet workshop, the biggest in Africa, will be supplied with work.
SAAT already has the capability to repair and overhaul Pratt & Whitney JT8 and JT9D series engines (both classified as mature designs), but the new contract opens the door to the US group assisting the South African company to improve its work processes and work flows.
“We have the vision of being the best and biggest [maintenance, repair and overhaul company] in Africa,” asserted SAAT chairperson and board member Teddy Daka. “We did lose some capability, but we’ve brought that capability back. We [now] need to enhance that capability. We are determined to ensure this company becomes a success.”
Both sides also hope that this agreement will be just the first stage in a developing relationship. “Through this relationship on the JT9, we have the ability to expand, to look at other engines in the future,” said Pratt & Whitney director: mature engines Bill Moeller. “The JT8D could be the focus of a future agreement with SAAT.” Later, more modern engine designs could be added.
“This really is the beginning of a partnership that we think will work for us, at SAA Technical, and for Pratt & Whitney,” affirmed SAAT CEO Musa Zwane.
The JT9D-7R4G2 engine is used on Boeing 747 Classic airliners, which are no longer operated by South African Airways. “But there are plenty of them around,” pointed out Zwane. “We’ll be maintaining these engines on behalf of Pratt & Whitney.”
Pratt & Whitney will market SAAT’s capabilities worldwide, and send engines from customers to South Africa for repair and overhaul. The deal is not restricted to engines in use in Africa. They could come from anywhere in the world.
“That’s why we are so excited,” affirmed Daka. “It allows us to get into markets we’ve never been in.”