3 Questions with Rihards Priedkalns

In the current state of the aviation industry, MRO’s painting departments are affected by the growing trend in rebranding – but not only. Rihards Priedkalns, Magnetic’s Aircraft Paintshop Manager, shares his expert insights about the current trends from the painting department perspective – and also about the latest most exciting and most challenging projects he is proud to be part of.

What different aircraft painting solutions you’re offering customers? Any trends and new demands from customers when it comes to painting services? How is your team accommodating those demands?

It’s probably more fit to ask what solutions we can’t offer! Here at Magnetic, we can provide our painting services on all narrow-body aircraft types, and we can satisfy nearly every customer need. This includes complete aircraft Paint stripping with chemicals, preparation for painting and painting with all major Paint manufacturer systems.

Liveries is not getting much harder these days, but definitely getting more exciting and colourful. As of the key trend, I would point out to growing awareness of climate change and increased interest in going greener by choosing Chrome-free paint systems. Happy to say that we can definitely support every customer who decides to do so. We have quite large experience with chrome-free products, and our team has received all the necessary training. Additionally, I have noticed another tendency that most of the customers are looking for companies who can provide full maintenance and paint package which allows optimizing the time for both of services, making it an excellent solution for the customer. And we can accommodate this demand here at Magnetic!

Have you noticed the increase in the painting service requests due to quite a few airlines undergoing rebranding or bankruptcy processes? Have these changes affected MMRO in the past few years?

Indeed, we are noticing the growing need of painting service! We could see this increase on our hangar floor with all summer slots booked for maintenance and all painting slots was sold too well in advance.

Rebrandings now are happening more often – from our experience, and a good example was a new SAS livery on ATR72 aircraft painted last November and all NORRA ATR72 fleet what was rebranded to Finnair livery.

In the current state of the aviation industry, MRO’s painting departments are affected by the growing trend in rebranding – but not only. In past 2 years, lot of airlines have gone bankrupt leaving Lessors with aircraft to be maintained and painted to suit new operator needs; therefore paint shops has to find the way to accommodate the growing service demand.

To put these trends in the number, within the previous year, we performed painting on 24 aircraft in total. From them, rebranding was performed on 15 aircraft, and additionally, 5 aircraft paintings were either EOL or airline bankruptcy result.

In the past year, which projects your team undertook were the most challenging and also the most exciting? Share those with us!

Last year was a blast for the painting department – could not be more happy with such active period – challenging but also very rewarding.

If I’d have to name the most challenging project, it would definitely be Finnair ATR72 exterior and interior paint program what included painting of 12 aircraft into Finnair livery as well as full interior modification. These were very time-consuming projects taking more than 2000 Manhours per aircraft to complete only by painting team. Additionally, the first new SAS livery on ATR72 was painted in Magnetic MRO attracting new customers and attention to MMRO.

If You ask what my personal most exciting project was – I would say painting of airBaltic A220 aircraft in Baltic state flag colours. It was an honour to manage and organize something so noticeable and important, and all the positive feedback we have received on this project also made it even more memorable.