After many years of development, MSG Production hires a new leader that is fully engaged in conquering global aviation. The owners are investing fresh capital to roll out the company’s de-icing and washing robot.
“It is a colossal robot that does this, and it is something that the industry needs, “ says Geir Steiro, the newly appointed CEO of MSG Production to E24.
The Norwegian start-up from Skien has developed a “de-icing and washing robot“ for aircraft that resembles an upscaled carwash unit.
“There is no one else in the world that can offer washing, de-icing, or technical inspection of an aircraft that is as effective and sustainable as MSG Production can, “ continues Steiro.
With help from robotic arms, the system can de-ice an airplane more thoroughly and accurately than today’s solutions, where an operator uses a vehicle and a wash gun to do the job. In addition, the MSG process is by far faster.
“One can also install cameras onto the robot to inspect an airplane, “ says Steiro.
Steiro himself has an extensive management background in SAS, Norwegian, Thomas Cook, and Qatar Airways. Now he is moving over to a start-up on the supplier side.
Aiming for a Launch at Gardemoen
“It was a bit of luck that Geir was available and felt he wanted to come back home to Norway. He knows the industry well and has a great network of contacts and trust in the market, which will come in handy as we approach a delivery phase, “ says MSG’s Chairman of the Board, Ove Trøen to E24.
Trøen tells us that he came into the company in March of last year when the start-up was in need of more capital. He is himself a retired pilot and had his eye on the company.
Shortly afterward, MSG formed an alliance with Sintef and the University of South-Eastern Norway to test and verify their technology, explains Trøen.
“We are in close dialog with Oslo Airport to establish a pre-project for a unit that can be ready as early as 2022. It will be the first commercial unit, “ says Trøen.
However, the need for the system goes a lot farther than just cold Scandinavian airports:
“It isn’t only during cold weather that one must de-ice an airplane. If you fill up cold fuel in a warm wing, it can result in condensation and frost on the wing. So the need for de-icing goes beyond what one actually thinks, “ says Trøen.
Entrepreneur Svein Gunnar Mæland is still in partial ownership and works with the company, explains Trøen. Mæland’s background is actually from the carwash industry, which is where some of the components from the MSG system come from.
Teknisk Ukeblad magazine mentioned in 2018 how Mæland put everything into this idea, which he got after his brother’s airplane was delayed for two days from Schiphol in Christmas 2009.
The magazine also mentioned a conflict between the company and previous investors in 2019.
MSG production visited Qatar Airways
As of today, MSG has a test facility at Geiteryggen Airport and a retired Boeing 737 that is used to test and demonstrate the technology.
The company also plans to scale the robot to service bigger, long-haul, and wide-bodied airplanes.
Steiro tells us that the pandemic has delayed the roll-out:
“Then Corona disrupted the market, but one still had to keep developing the technology, “ he says.
“MSG was here for a visit while I was working with Qatar Airways, and airlines are interested in this, so I’m excited to start working with MSG, “ he says.
Both de-icing, washing, and inspection of aircraft is a time-consuming process, and in many situations, airlines fly their airplanes to their own facilities to wash and inspect.
For a wide-body airplane, it can take up to 8-10 hours to inspect the entire airplane for lightning strikes, but with us, it takes a fraction of the time, says Steiro about the new functionality that is now being developed for the system.
It is a big environmental advantage for the airlines to have de-icing, washing, and drying under one hangar that can collect and recycle the chemicals and water used.
New Investors Contribute with 77 million
The business model is based on the fact that MSG can build and own a facility, explain Geir and Trøen.
We envision ourselves investing in this and that the airlines or airports pay for the services. This way it is easier for us to succeed.
For MSG to be successful, we are dependent on getting access to airports around the world.
– Is there a willingness to pay for this?
– Airlines must de-ice, wash, and inspect their fleet. When this can be done faster, the airlines save money, something that is important in an industry where all the little things are taken into account.
– Your business model requires that you have the capital to establish a facility. How will you be financing this?
– We have received capital from new owners and they are willing to further commit.
The owners at MSG have now invested 37 million kroners in fresh capital according to information from Brønnøysund Register.
“There will be an additional 40 million coming in now and the owners have contributed with the liquidation that we believe is needed for production, “ says Trøen.
On the shareholder list, you will find the following names, among others, Jan Gunnar Næss, Svein Ove Brekke, Robert Bader, Petter Hennum, Jørn Heidenreich-Riis, as well as the founder, Svein Gunnar Mæland.