ExecuJet’s new MRO facility boosts Malaysia’s aviation landscape

This facility spans 17,319 sq m, with the hangar area alone covering 9,754 sq m, making it one of the largest in the region 

by AKMAR ANNUAR 

THE opening of the new maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) facility at Subang Airport on May 2 has marked a significant milestone in Malaysia’s aviation industry. 

This facility, which services high-profile brands such as Dassault Aviation, Bombardier, and Gulfstream, spans 17,319 sq m, with the hangar area alone covering 9,754 sq m, making it one of the largest in the region. 

This facility marked a significant development, as Dassault Aviation’s Asia Pacific headquarters have been firmly rooted in Kuala Lumpur since 2006, highlighting Malaysia as an initial and strategic market for Dassault Falcon aircraft in the Asia Pacific. 

Dassault Aviation senior VP of the Worldwide Falcon Customer Service and Service Centre Network, Jean Kayanakis said the acquisition of ExecuJet MRO Services Malaysia’s global network in 2019 was a strategic decision, with Malaysia’s high-quality workforce being a compelling factor. 

Kayanakis began his journey with Dassault over 25 years ago, initially contributing to the Rafale fighter prototype

“The Malaysian hub is pivotal due to the exceptional local talent, which aligns with our commitment to providing unparalleled service to our clients,” he said at the launch ceremony. 

He emphasised that proximity to customers and the goal of delivering exceptional service were primary motivators for investing in ExecuJet MRO activities. 

This facility is equipped to support a broad array of Dassault’s aircraft models, including the Falcon 900, Falcon 2000, Falcon 7X, Falcon 8X, and the newly introduced Falcon 6X, known for its extensive cabin cross-section. 

It is also poised to accommodate the Falcon 10X, slated for release in 2027. 

“This MRO facility reflects our dedication to offering a comprehensive service experience, from airframe maintenance to engineering, parts support, training and interior design, all supported fully by Dassault Aviation,” Kayanakis said.

The range of services include airframe heavy maintenance, line maintenance, AOG support, cabin interior refurbishments, satcom installations, avionics upgrades

He shared that the facility intends to maintain the high global service standards that Dassault Aviation is known for. 

Additionally, Kayanakis discussed the strengthening relationship between Malaysia and Dassault Aviation, noting significant growth in the regional aircraft fleet. 

He said this facility is set to attract more operators from across the region, enhancing Malaysia’s role in the business significantly, and was optimistic about Dassault Aviation’s future activities in the region. 

Meanwhile, ExecuJet MRO Ser vices president Graeme Duckworth marked significant milestones at the facility’s launch, celebrating the expansion in Malaysia. 

“From our modest beginnings in a rented bay 15 years ago to our current status, it is a significant achievement for our Malaysian operations,” he noted. 

During his address, Duckworth expressed gratitude towards the dedicated Malaysian staff and management, alongside the loyal customer base that facilitated their growth. 

He also recognised Randhill Singh from Malaysia Airports for his vital contribution to the Subang Airport Regeneration plan (SARP), which enabled the new facility’s construction. 

Duckworth highlighted several factors that influenced ExecuJet MRO Ser vices’ decision to expand in Malaysia, including the government’s growth initiatives, the skilled multi-lingual workforce, operational ease at Subang Airport, and land availability. 

“Malaysia remains our most successful market within the ExecuJet MRO Services Group, and this new facility will substantially enhance our capacity,” he added. 

The new MRO centre, which is internationally certified, aims to serve a diverse range of aircraft from multiple manufacturers, reinforcing its position as a regional hub for business aviation. 

Duckworth stressed strategic efforts to cultivate local talent, including partnerships with tertiary institutions to encourage young Malaysians to join the aviation sector and a commitment to boosting female representation in their workforce. 

“This state-of-the-art MRO facility will fortify Subang Airport’s role as the epicentre for business aviation in Malaysia and beyond,” Duckworth said, underscoring ExecuJet’s continuous commitment to enhancing its services and extending its reach across the Asia-Pacific. 

In a statement, Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) said the ExecuJet MRO Services Malaysia facility plays a crucial role in the SARP, marking significant progress in the plan’s business aviation segment. 

“SARP focuses on three main areas: Aerospace, business aviation and city airport development, with a strategic goal to elevate Subang Airport into a key regional centre for business aviation,” it said. 

Comprehensive Services for Leading Aircraft Brands

The newly inaugurated MRO facility is set to bolster Malaysia’s position as a regional MRO hub, highlighting the significance of Asia in the expanding business aviation market. 

The facility’s capacity to handle a range of aircraft from major manufacturers, including Dassault Aviation, Bombardier and Gulf-stream, and support for large business jets like the Falcon 6X and Falcon 10X, demonstrates its extensive capabilities.

The aircraft classification system used in the industry categorises planes into small, medium, and large based on size. 

The new hangar is designed to accommodate up to 15 small or medium-sized aircraft simultaneously or 12 larger aircraft, including the upcoming large-cabin Dassault Falcon 10X, expected in 2027. 

Visitors to the facility will be greeted in the lobby with a mock-up of the Dassault Falcon 10X, offering a glimpse into the future of luxury air travel. 

The construction of this state-of-the-art facility began in November 2022, marking a significant milestone in ExecuJet MRO Services’ plans to broaden its operational scope. 

Currently, the facility staffs approximately 80 employees, with intentions to increase this number to nearly 100 by the year’s end, reflecting the company’s growth and commitment to enhancing its service capacity. 

Its construction features a robust steel structure with vertical box truss columns weighing around 90 tonnes, designed to support the substantial weight of the hangar’s roof and the large aircraft it services. 

Being one of the largest MRO facilities in the region, designed to accommodate a variety of aircraft, including large models like the Boeing 737, the facility can service up to 15 medium and large business jets at a time, including ultra-large-cabin models such as the Dassault Falcon 6X and Falcon 10X. 

It is equipped with advanced tools and technology, such as an overhead crane for moving aircraft engines and a pneumatic service pit that enhances operational safety. 

The range of services provided is comprehensive, including airframe heavy maintenance, line maintenance, Aircraft on Ground (AOG) support, cabin interior refurbishments, satellite communications (satcom) installations, avionics upgrades and other complex modifications. 

Emphasising sustainability, the facility incorporates several environmentally friendly features for solar power generation and rain-water harvesting. 

Ample windows are installed throughout to maximise the use of natural light, reducing the need for artificial lighting during daytime, supplemented by energy-efficient LED lighting systems. 

It has been designed with natural ventilation systems and high-volume, low-speed overhead fans to minimise the use of air conditioning. 

Additionally, the roof is equipped with an 85kWp solar power installation that helps reduce reliance on the power grid. 

There is also a large 61,000-litre water tank for rainwater harvesting, which is used to decrease the facility’s overall water consumption. 

By incorporating state-of-the-art facilities and sustainable practices, the hangar aligns with Malaysia’s environmental goals and supports the country’s commitment to sustainable development. 

On strategic and economic impact, this MRO facility not only enhances the service capacity for prestigious aircraft in the region but also positions Malaysia as a key player in the global aviation services market. 

This facility is expected to attract more international business, contributing to Malaysia’s economic growth and reinforcing its position in the aerospace sector. 

The Men behind ExecuJet 

Kayanakis holds a pivotal role as the senior VP of the Worldwide Falcon Customer Service and Service Centre Network at Dassault Aviation. Appointed in January 2019, Kayanakis has been instrumental in setting and maintaining global standards for customer support across the company’s extensive service network. His responsibilities include managing around-the-clock technical support, a global service centre network, and operational and pilot support departments.

This position, tailored to uphold Falcon’s worldwide customer service standards, ensures exceptional service quality for all clients. 

Kayanakis began his journey with Dassault over 25 years ago, initially contributing to the Rafale fighter prototype. 

His tenure at Dassault spans vital roles in customer service, logistics, purchasing, spare parts distribution and maintenance services. 

Before his current role, he was the GM at Dassault Falcon Service (DFS) at Le Bourget airport near Paris, enhancing customised Falcon maintenance and management services. 

During his leadership at DFS, Kayanakis was key in developing a specialised MRO facility for Falcon 7X and 8X jets in Bordeaux- Mérignac and expanding DFS’ presence internationally. 

He launched the FalconResponse programme, offering essential support for grounded Falcon aircraft, and played a significant role in the major renovation of the DFS fixed base operation (FBO) at Le Bourget, integrating it into the Air Elite FBO network. 

His strategic leadership continues to enhance Dassault’s global reputation in customer support. 

Next, ExecuJet MRO Services president Duckworth has a rich history in aviation that began in 1975 as an aircraft engineer at Air Zimbabwe. 

Born in England in 1957 and raised in South Africa, Duckworth’s career took a substantial turn in 1985 when he delved into business aviation. 

He co-founded the ExecuJet Aviation Group in 1991, where he swiftly climbed the ranks to group ED, overseeing maintenance, flight operations, quality assurance and training. 

In 2008, Duckworth expanded his reach to Asia, and by 2017, he led all maintenance operations globally within the Luxaviation group as executive VP of MRO Services. 

His leadership persisted through Dassault Aviation’s acquisition in 2019, renaming the company ExecuJet MRO Services. 

Under his guidance, the company continues to provide exemplary MRO services worldwide. 

Lastly, regional VP for Asia Ivan Lim has significantly influenced the aviation maintenance sector in Malaysia since joining the company in 2011. 

A native of Kedah, Lim graduated from RMIT University in Australia with a degree in Accountancy. 

His professional path began at Ernst & Young in Kuala Lumpur, and by 2011, he transitioned into aviation, starting as Finance Manager at ExecuJet Malaysia. 

Lim ascended to GM (Commercial) in 2013 and was pivotal in the company’s growth, leading to his promotion to VP of MRO Services Asia in 2016. 

His leadership was crucial as the company expanded to a modern facility in 2019, renamed ExecuJet MRO Services Malaysia. 

(From left) Kayanakis, French Ambassador to Malaysia Axel Cruau, Loke, Duckworth, Lim and Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia CEO Datuk Captain Norazman Mahmud at the grand opening of new MRO Facility Execujet MRO Services in Subang

Lim’s journey from financial auditor to a key player in Asia’s MRO services showcases his profound impact on the industry. 

After the launch, during a press conference, Lim provided a detailed explanation of the types of services and capabilities that their facility offers, especially for high-end aircraft models such as the Falcon 6X and Falcon 10X. 

As an MRO facility, they play a critical role in supporting aircraft operations across the region, not just within their hangar. 

Lim explained that one of the key services they offer involves deploying their engineering staff to other airports to assist with aircraft that are unable to operate, often referred to as AOG situations. 

“For instance, we recently sent our engineers to Japan to resolve issues with an aircraft that was stuck there. “This kind of responsiveness is crucial in minimising downtime for our clients,” Lim noted. 

In addition to emergency responses, the facility is equipped to handle comprehensive heavy maintenance tasks. 

Visitors to the facility will be greeted in the lobby with a mock-up of the Dassault Falcon 10X, offering a glimpse into the future of luxury air travel

“When it comes to heavy base maintenance, we do significant structural work, which includes detailed inspections, repairs, and necessary polishing and refurbishments,” he added. 

This kind of maintenance is vital for the longevity and safety of the aircraft, ensuring that every component meets the highest standards of functionality and aesthetics. 

The facility has also adapted to support the latest models from Dassault Aviation, such as the Falcon 6X and the upcoming Falcon 10X. 

“With the entry into service of the Falcon 10X and 6X, we have already invested in training our engineers to specialise in these new models. 

“This ensures that we can provide top-notch service and support for these aircraft right from their introduction into the market,” Lim added. 

This investment in training signifies Execu- Jet’s commitment to staying at the forefront of aviation technology and service capability, enabling them to support the latest aircraft and technologies in the industry. 

By doing so, ExecuJet ensures they meet the evolving needs of their clients and maintain their reputation as a leading MRO service provider in the region. 

Loke says Subang Airport aims to solidify Malaysia’s position as a regional hub for MRO and other aerospace activities

At the same event, Transport Minister Anthony Loke also highlighted the significant impact of the facility on the nation’s aviation industry. 

He said the development of Subang Airport goes beyond traditional airline services; it is about positioning Malaysia as a central hub for MRO and aerospace activities in Asia and across various aviation segments. 

He detailed the SARP, which aims to transform Subang Airport into a major city and regional airport for Greater Kuala Lumpur, supporting the development of business aviation and a comprehensive aerospace ecosystem. 

Loke noted that the plan, approved on Feb 2, 2023, is projected to generate significant economic output and job creation, aligning with the Malaysian Aerospace Industry Blueprint 2030 to establish Malaysia as the foremost aerospace industry leader in South-East Asia. 

Loke also announced the launch of a local recruitment drive to provide Malaysians the chance to become internationally certified maintenance technicians and engineers, contributing to a growing high-tech industry globally. 

He emphasised the strategic alignment of the new MRO centre with the goals of the Subang Airport Regeneration Plan, affirming that the plan “is already starting to take shape and is poised for success”. 

Loke has revealed plans to restart the Skypark Link, a train service that connects KL Sentral to the Skypark Terminal at Sultan Abdul Aziz Shah Airport (LTSAAS), popularly known as Subang Airport. 

From our modest beginnings in a rented bay 15 years ago to our current status, it is a significant achievement for our Malaysian operations, says Duckworth

Addressing the media, Loke emphasised that the service was not abandoned but temporarily halted. 

“The Skypark Link was temporarily terminated; however, the track has been maintained and will resume operation once the terminal is operational again. 

“We are exploring a new operational model, potentially involving joint ventures or collaborations,” Loke explained during the press conference. 

He also shed light on the strategic importance of Subang Airport, highlighting its role beyond just airline traffic. 

“Subang Airport aims to solidify Malaysia’s position as a regional hub for MRO and other aerospace activities,” Loke reiterated. 

With an eye on maximising opportunities in business aviation, the minister endorsed the SARP. 

“The SARP is expected to generate substantial economic output, contributing RM216.6 billion in gross output and RM93.7 billion in value-added over the next 25 years,” Loke noted. The plan also aims to create 8,000 high-value, highly skilled jobs. 

Discussing immediate plans, Loke mentioned that business jet operations at the airport are slated to commence in the third quarter of this year. 

He highlighted ongoing renovations and adjustments being undertaken by MAHB to prepare for this phase. 

“In the medium term, we plan to construct a new terminal at Subang, which will replace the current Skypark terminal. 

“This project is expected to take at least three years to complete,” he concluded, setting a timeline for substantial developments at the airport. 


  • This article first appeared in The Malaysian Reserve weekly print edition