Swiss Aerocampus : a new asset for maintenance in Switzerland
Ideally located in Sion airport’s new activity zone, Alpark SA has been developing this site since 2012 which it considers to be a platform with underutilized potential. Focused primarily on private VIP and business aviation, the complex has also turned towards the rotor-wing aircraft sector and its various activities.
Inaugurated in 2014 and composed of five hangars across the site spanning more than 10,000 m2, the top-of-the-line complex operated by Alpark SA takes up over 60% of the airport’s new activity zone. The company’s concept is based on protected aircraft storage as well as maintenance services. Accordingly, Alpark SA operates facilities capable of storing 24 private jets or three Boeing BBJ and other aircraft simultaneously. In addition to the hangars and a private tarmac, the complex includes 2,000 m2 of adjacent building space featuring a resolutely contemporary design for offices, technical premises, accommodation, as well as a lounge and several meeting rooms for passengers and crew. All rooms are equipped with a high-speed WiFi connection and high-definition digital tools. To top it all off, Alpark SA even offers its customers a fitness center and a spa.
A platform and expanded activities
With its exclusive position, the company is also a major player in the local economy. Different partnerships were forged for all of the services offered, not only with local businesses but also with major names in the aviation industry. Alpark SA has in particular developed a helicopter maintenance center with RUAG Aviation covering the full line-up of Airbus Helicopter, Leonardo’s Helicopter (formerly Agusta Westland), Bell Helicopter and Sikorsky. The complex is now considered by RUAG Aviation as a maintenance support center, not only for stationed aircraft, but also for helicopters in transit. Alpark SA has continuously expanded its on-demand line maintenance offer, both directly and through third parties, in the business aviation sector. Through the services offered, Alpark SA has raised growing interest from a customer segment that is accustomed to on-demand service. According to its director, Michel Seppey, “we deal with customers on a demand basis and we have very few year-round members. The principle is that helicopters and aircraft are, by the nature of their owners’ activity, always on the go. Space is therefore regularly available“. With strong potential, Alpark SA entered into a partnership with Partn’Air Management SA to manage the fleet of helicopters currently on site (including one Dauphin and two S-76). In addition to this activity, Partn’Air Management SA also specializes in aviation expertise, both administrative and technical, as well as continuing airworthiness management organization (CAMO). Leading the way in Switzerland in this domain, the directors of Alpark SA and Partn’Air Management SA have also brought together the resources to develop a related activity which had previously been lacking in Switzerland: maintenance training. Accordingly, a new Swiss training facility for maintenance activities will be opened: Swiss Aerocampus.
Swiss Aerocampus : becoming the reference training center for maintenance in French-speaking Switzerland
On May 25, during the EBACE trade show, a partnership agreement was entered into between Swiss Aerocampus and Aerocampus Aquitaine, a French firm internationally renowned in the field of aviation training. The signature of this agreement was symbolic in more than one respect. According to Coralie Mathieu, responsible for, amongst other areas, the development of Swiss Aerocampus: “This initiative is aimed to promote a theoretical training program exclusively focused on aviation maintenance activities in French-speaking Switzerland. This training, which provides the basic skills needed to obtain the European aircraft mechanic license, will be offered in particular to young Swiss applicants who hold a Federal Certificate of Capacity (CFC), to people in the military who want to switch to the civil sector or to anyone undergoing a career change.” This qualification program to be held at the Sion airport will be dedicated to “training courses followed by exams covering all theoretical Part 66 fundamental modules“, stated the manager. She added: “Options will be offered by license category for the following modules: B1-1 (aircraft, turbine engine mechanic), B1-3 (helicopter, turbine engine mechanic) or B2 (avionic mechanic). Training, which will take place over 55 days on average, will first be entirely managed by Aerocampus Aquitaine, in terms of the training staff, the training program and exams. The courses will be held at the airport and as there are maintenance facilities on site, from day one our students will be able to benefit from total immersion into the world of aircraft maintenance“. The first complete session covering the full theoretical program is planned to start by the end of the year (early November) in brand-new rooms, located at heart of the Alpark complex. Once the theoretical training is completed, students will then be integrated into a Part 145-approved maintenance center to acquire the necessary experience and, in particular, to finalize what they have learned to then try and obtain the Part 66 license. To do so, the managers of the project “negotiate with well-identified partners“, indicated C. Mathieu, prior to adding: “The idea is to start with a 55-day session and then move on to a more sustainable pace by offering candidates a full 2,400-hour program. Gradually and over time we hope that Swiss Aerocampus will acquire its autonomy and become a 100%-Swiss Part 147 training facility“.
by Fédéric Vergnères – © Mathieu Douhaire – © Sandra Pointet