Guangzhou Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Co., Ltd. (GAMECO), in which China Southern holds a 50% stake, is in the process of constructing a third hangar with up to eleven maintenance lines as it seeks to support China Southern’s growing fleet and increase its involvement with third-party projects including passenger-to-freighter conversions and freighter maintenance.
GAMECO broke ground on the 98,500 sq. meter hangar in May and expects the facility to be operational by 2021. The third hangar will add eleven maintenance lines (five narrowbody and six widebody), bringing the MRO’s total capacity to thirty lines across its three hangars. While freighter conversions weren’t the only consideration driving GAMECO’s expansion, opportunities to provide touch labor for conversions, and maintenance for the lifecycle of the airframe were factors, CEO Norbert Marx told Cargo Facts.
Last year, Boeing and GAMECO inked an MoU to bring a conversion line to Guangzhou, but to date, the MoU no concrete plans to add any lines for NG conversions have been announced. Last month during the Paris Air Show Boeing hinted that this will soon change as the company’s growing order book for 737-800BCFs may soon prompt it to add additional conversion lines. Boeing expects to more than double the number of 737-800BCF redeliveries from eight in 2018 to seventeen in 2019, but for now, two MROs host conversion lines for Boeing’s program, including Boeing Shanghai Aviation Services (BSAS) and Shandong Aircraft Engineering Company (STAECO).
Regardless of whether a conversion line for the 737-800BCF lands in Guangzhou, other STC holders continue to use the MRO for freighter conversions. In the past, GAMECO has performed touch labor for 737 Classic conversions, first for Bedek, and more recently, for PEMCO. The MRO had also planned to convert A321s for the now defunct PACAVI.