Cardiff Aviation Limited, the aircraft maintenance and flight training organisation established in July 2012 by Iron Maiden vocalist Bruce Dickinson and business partner Mario Fulgoni, has agreed inward investment of £5 million (€5.9m/$8.1m).
Finance Wales, the UK SME investment company and Welsh Government subsidiary, has invested £1.6 million (€1.88m/$2.5m), while the remainder will be provided or facilitated by private or privately-owned investors including Dickinson and Fulgoni.
Cardiff Aviation’s Twin Peaks HQ is part of the Welsh Government’s St Athan-Cardiff Airport Enterprise Zone, and already home to some of the world’s biggest aerospace and defence companies.
“This is a key investment which will allow us to expand the senior management team, and enable us to establish European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Part 21 Design Approval to join the list of maintenance and operational approvals and certification the Cardiff Aviation group already possesses,” said Mario Fulgoni, joint chief executive of Cardiff Aviation.
“This means Cardiff Aviation Limited will be permitted to manufacture and certify aircraft parts alongside our maintenance and training operations, thereby providing us with a full opportunity to exploit the range of technical equipment and expertise we acquired in taking over Twin Peaks from the RAF, and in establishing Cardiff Aviation.”
Bruce Dickinson, joint CEO, and vocalist with rock band Iron Maiden, currently on tour in Europe, added: “The Welsh Government has played a fantastic role in a difficult economic environment in providing tremendous support and enthusiasm. Finance Wales’ long-term backing is the fuel not just to put St Athan on the map, but has the potential to create a consequentially much wider impact across the entire South Wales aerospace industry”.
“As for Cardiff Aviation, the first key role we plan to fill is that of commercial director. We will follow up with expansion of the operational and technical teams to address our current growth trend and increasingly lucrative contracts with both UK and international aviation businesses. We also plan to invest in more engineering equipment to supplement and enhance the already excellent technical capability at Cardiff Aviation.”
Deputy Minister for Skills and Technology Jeff Cuthbert welcomed this next phase of Cardiff Aviation’s growth.
He said: ”This latest development is excellent news and will open up exciting new growth opportunities for Cardiff Aviation and expand their capability. The aerospace industry operates within one of our key economic sectors so I am delighted to hear of this latest investment which also sends out a strong message of confidence in the St Athan-Cardiff Airport Enterprise Zone.”
Finance Wales’ investment was structured by Senior Investment Executive, Nick Larcombe.
He said: “Cardiff Aviation has taken over some impressive facilities at St Athan which provides an excellent base to establish a potentially world-beating business. Mario and Bruce both have a passion for the aviation industry and the commitment to secure the new clients they need to drive the business forward.”
“Finance Wales’ investment has provided Cardiff Aviation with the injection of working capital it needs to fund the next stage of its development. It is now well placed to take advantage of opportunities in its core European MRO market and as the business becomes more established there are many new revenue streams it can also develop.”
Gerallt Jones, head of corporate and banking at Hugh James, the law firm engaged as legal advisers on the deal, said: “It is very pleasing to see such an ambitious business establish itself in Wales and contribute to the rapidly expanding aviation sector in the region. We have worked with numerous aviation clients in recent years and we are committed to helping businesses, like Cardiff Aviation, attract investment and grow in a sector which has the potential to provide major employment opportunities and considerable economic benefit to Wales.”
Cardiff Aviation will target the $2 billion European MRO market which is currently growing at around three per cent a year as commercial airlines look to outsource fleet maintenance.
Cardiff Aviation was launched in mid-2012 by Iron Maiden singer and aviation entrepreneur Bruce Dickinson, who is himself a 7,000 hour Boeing 757 pilot, and Mario Fulgoni, a seasoned senior aviation manager and former airline captain. It has 132,000 square feet of hangar space capable of accommodating aircraft up to the size of a Boeing 767-300, and parking for up to 20 narrow bodied commercial airliners. St Athan has a 6,000 ft runway.
As well as maintenance of airliners and other large aircraft for several major and independent airlines, Cardiff Aviation has facilities to complete the full range of ancillary aircraft maintenance and training activities and has the expertise and approvals to certify aircraft from many jurisdictions. Cardiff Aviation has considerable in-house expertise. However, joint ventures and partnerships – current and to-be-announced – all based under one roof at Cardiff Aviation’s St Athan base, massively extend that resource and expertise offering into a vast array of markets.
Finance Wales’ investment in Cardiff Aviation came from the £150 million Wales JEREMIE Fund.