ACRATS offers more than training; they take your aircraft structure repair skills to a higher plane

ACRATS offers more than training; they take your aircraft structure repair skills to a higher plane

Rick van Opdorp is the owner and founder of ACRATS. Specialised in composites and sheet metal, the materials used for aircraft structures, ACRATS offers advanced training in the maintenance, inspection and repair of aircraft structures. But there’s more: ACRATS is also establishing itself as a one-stop-shop-solution for its customers. Rick: “Has your aircraft been damaged? We have the integrated solution to provide you with the tools, equipment and knowledge to fix it.”

A niche market

Subject to many complicated rules and regulations, the repair and maintenance of aircraft built from composite and metallic parts are not activities that can be performed just anywhere, or by just anyone. Rick: “There are only a few other companies in the world that offer this type of training. It’s not something you can ‘just fix’.” You need to comply with global regulations for which specific expertise is required. There are many different processes to take into account if  you want to use these materials in this capacity.”

Starting the company meant committing to a long-term vision, explains Rick. “The growth that we have experienced and the team we put together are the highlights of my career. It takes many small steps to set up a company like this, and you can imagine that it took some time for all the pieces to fall into place. It required a long-term vision, based on estimates and guesswork about what something might look like five years down the road. It is wonderful to see how, after all these years, our vision turned out to be accurate.”

One-stop-shop solution

It was a process of trial and error. And, Rick admitted, one of unexpected setbacks such asCOVID-19 and an energy crisis. “COVID-19 was not good for the aviation industry. Plus, we also feel the pressure that has been put on the aviation industry by society to reduce its carbon footprint. Nonetheless, we consider those challenges an opportunity for further innovation. During the pandemic, we were gifted with extra time. Time that allowed us to set up ACRATS Supply, a one-stop-shop solution to provide our customers with the materials they use during their training with us. All these materials, tools and equipment are readily available in our catalogue. We fully underestimated the process of setting up such a project, but thanks to the pandemic, we were able to get everything up and running.”

Sharing knowledge 

ACRATS has since gained a solid position on the market that underscores the uniqueness of the company. Rick: “We don’t just provide training; we boost your skills. We have been able to build our knowledge and expertise so extensively simply because our customers learn and grow alongside us. The knowledge we gain through our partnerships with various clients is shared with our other clients. Together, we can make this industry even more efficient by accelerating the turnaround time for the aircraft we service.”

With its new business up and running, ACRATS has since established itself as an expert in the market. Rick: “There’s no need to expand in terms of capacity. We know that our mission will be successful in the future. Our focus is on improving our service to the greatest extent possible, even though we are currently focusing on a new project. With support from the Region of West Brabant, we’re building a new application: a marketplace for carbon fibre and other operational materials to provide our customers with even more innovative and cost-saving solutions.”

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