A newcomer to Shannon and to the aviation sector, Shannon Technical Services (STS) has clearly shown intent since it first opened its doors for business in the Shannon Free Zone.
New in name to the sector but not in personnel, its success is due to the vast experience of its 40 employees, all with backgrounds deeply immersed in the many strands of aviation and at many levels. With plans to increase headcount to 70 by the end of 2021 and upwards to 120 by 2022, STS is an organisation making impressive strides in a highly regulated sector.
Chief Operating Officer Don Salmon shares some insights into what STS does, its achievements to date and plans for the future.
Set up in February 2019 by Ben Whelan and Colm O’Ceallaigh, Ben an accountant who began his career in Shannon Aerospace with subsequent moves to other areas within the sector, STS primarily provides services to the aircraft leasing market and to airlines when an aircraft is being delivered off lease and redelivered back onto lease, known as aircraft transitioning.
The types of services STS typically delivers include technical and physical inspection of the aircraft and the technical records and documentation associated with the transition of an aircraft off lease.
As Salmon explains, the aircraft leasing market is quite significant: “It accounts for fifty per cent of the world’s fleet, involving circa 11,000 aircraft with a current value of $325 billion. This is projected to grow post pandemic as leasing frees up capital expenditure in the airline through passing over the management of the residual value risk back to the lessor, who are best placed to manage that risk.”
It was this projected growth that prompted the establishment of STS. Assembling a team that have the capability to ramp up fast has been the cornerstone of its success to date.
“We have a team of 40 based in Shannon who interface globally with a larger pool of STS consultants; we’ve had over 300 consultants engaged on the various lease transactions and mid-lease inspection projects over the past year. The use of indigenous consultants was, in the main, necessitated by COVID-19 travel restrictions but doing so has enabled us to gain new contacts with new levels of experience, resulting in significant growth.”
STS’s ramp-up in the past two years has been significant. Having started out as transition consultants, its services now include mid-lease inspections, engine management, structures review, materials services, and the company is currently in the process of obtaining Continuing Airworthiness Management Organisation (CAMO) approval from the Irish Aviation Authority.
This expansion of services has been driven in the main by its internal capability build-up –greater than 60 per cent of its staff have over twenty years’ experience in aviation across a multiple of different forms of aviation – MRO, MRO planning, finance, services provision, technical records’ reviews, physical and structural engineering, which is quite unique for a business in its segment. It is also linked to the fact that STS has built up strong relationships and partnerships with its customer base, which facilitates an exchange of ideas and opportunities by both parties.
Cognisant that aviation is global, STS has also established strategic partnerships globally, such as Brazil, Mexico, Scandinavia, UAE, India, and China which enables the company to provide 24-hour coverage in the different time zones.
One its newest services, the establishment of a Technical Records Hub at Shannon now sees the company undertaking significant technical records’ management and review for its lessors or airline customers, enabling them to fulfil a pertinent stipulation in all lease contracts, that the aircraft be returned off lease with all technical and structural records maintained as per lease conditions.
Adding engine management is also a significant achievement; this requires an experienced team and STS has taken on its newest hire to lead this side of the business.
With roots now firmly established in Shannon, Salmon says that STS is an Irish-based company with global ambitions in an industry that is heavily based on regulated and high-quality output.
“We have matched and exceeded those stringent standards, exceeded our own targets and are continually seeking out new niches and developing associated capability. We have a different, unique offering and it’s that difference that is allowing us to proceed at a rate that matches market demand,” he adds.
Salmon is a man steeped in aviation, having started as an apprentice in Shannon Aerospace in its embryonic days. Following stints in Germany with Lufthansa Technik and as an independent contractor, he returned to Shannon to occupy positions as interior shop manager and project manager for one of Shannon Aerospace’s heavy maintenance lines, followed by further moves in the sector prior to joining STS.
His passion for developing the Mid-West as a hotbed for aviation personnel is clear.
“it’s very fulfilling to be a member of the Shannon business community and to contribute to Shannon Chamber’s work in promoting and facilitating the growth and development of the Shannon region. That’s extremely important for me personally and for STS as a company,” he concludes.