Founded in 2001, Tronos is an aircraft leasing, major modification centre and aircraft maintenance services provider which services aircraft from all over the world. There are 32 staff members.
The company is an EASA and Transport Canada approved Aircraft Maintenance organization located at Slemon Park. The Tronos Manufacturing machine shop opened in 2016 in the Charlottetown Airport Business Park. They use CAD software to design and manufacture machined components.
“We are very fortunate that we generally deal with niche aircraft operators, which have not seen as big an impact as commercial air travel,” says Mark Coffin. “Most of our clients are stable.
“As we saw places in the world where COVID-19 was advancing, our workplace put plans in place in February, and got our staff cognizant of social distancing.
“In manufacturing, we looked at supply chain issues to see if we needed to order stock immediately, considering impending shortages and shipping difficulties. We implemented health and safety aspects as well.
“Overall, we learned how fragile everything is, and that these events have a broad reach in an industry so reliant on people movement.
“We looked at integrating advanced manufacturing. Some of our customers and end users had supply chain issues and shipping delays which prompted them to ask us to manufacture the components they could not access. What business we have lost in some areas we have been able to pick up in other areas.
“Being at home and not travelling as much has given me the chance to put into motion ideas that I didn’t have time to pursue before. That has been helpful.”
How will the workplace change going forward?
“We have people working from home now, but there is only so much we can do remotely. With hands-on machine operating or working on aircraft, there is very little you can do at home. We have instituted some changes that will stay. We will continue to try to put our eggs in multiple baskets and have two or three areas of focus that are not completely intertwined.
“I don’t think this is the end of the pandemic, and even if there are not more episodes like COVID-19 in the near future, anything even remotely like this will cause problems for all of us.”
Business recovery estimate
“We just moved a plane from here to Chile, and the process was very difficult because of the number of stops in different countries. Things are getting very complicated and will stay that way for a long time.
“We are optimistic about looking closer to home for work we can do. There is a tremendous number of bright minds around here, and we often go to the big city to find them. We don’t have to do that. There are things we can do collaboratively and we have education systems here that really are quite good.
“Some people say 40 percent of the market won’t bounce back until 2025. Airlines are reestablishing their schedules, but nobody gets paid for hauling air. Airlines are taking the chance that if they put airplanes back in the air, and make things look as normal as possible, people will return.
“I think we are into a long period of slowness. There are lots of wheels to fall off the wagon yet. Companies leasing aircraft are being given rent holidays, and there is a lot of government money flowing for wage subsidies and business grants. Those things will stop shortly, because they can’t continue to take the hit. Once the money stops flowing, you will see assets parked even faster. We think by the end of the year asset values will start to head for the floor. Once government programs dry up, we will start to see layoffs take effect.”
The Atlantic Canada advantage
“We all benefit by being in Atlantic Canada. Businesses are able to connect with policy and decision makers much faster than if we were in Ontario. We are able to develop relationships, trust, and confidence with decision makers. There are also advantages in staying smaller because it allows us to be more able to weather these types of things.”
Jobs in demand
“We do manufacture and design work, and we have been hiring even though this pandemic. We have been looking for skillsets around additive 3-D printing and design. We find that Technical Drafting CAD skillsets aren’t there. We are having to turn people into designers for new technologies.
“There is a concern on our part of what programs colleges continue to offer. The Aircraft Maintenance Engineer and the Aircraft Gas Turbine Engine Repair and Overhaul programs are being paused. It is very hard when you pause those programs to generate momentum back into them. The other danger for us is we had already had a shortage in the industry of people with the skillsets to work in aerospace. If programs are on pause, we will end up with a skills gap again.”
Future of Aerospace
“I encourage people to consider a career in Aerospace. The industry is not dead. If someone is interested in being a pilot or a maintenance technician, or any aspect of aerospace, those jobs will still be there.
“However, I do encourage anyone interested in the field to make sure they have a fall-back plan. If you get your pilot’s license, develop another skill or trade as well, so that when the down time comes, you have something else to go to.”
For more about Tronosjet, visit www.tronosjet.com/maintenance