Bruce Dickinson has spent his life singing in the rock band Iron Maiden. Now, the frontman is working on an altogether different type of metal: airplanes. Mr. Dickinson just finished a three-year world tour with his legendary metal band, but he's also been a pilot for 25 years, and is now focusing on a new solo act: He set up last year a company that mixes airline leasing, plane maintenance and pilot training—all in the Welsh valleys.
The business, Cardiff Aviation, plans to build an airline fleet of up to 10 aircraft within a few years and fill a market niche from its 132,000-square-foot hangar in St. Athan, Wales, Mr. Dickinson says.
Having clocked more than 7,000 hours flying time working part time as an airline pilot for British World Airlines and Astraeus Airlines, Mr. Dickinson also occasionally flew his band around the world for gigs. In 2008, Iron Maiden decorated an Astraeus Boeing Co. BA +0.14% 757 in their own branded livery and flew it on a world tour.
At Cardiff Aviation's hangar, he sells maintenance and repair services to aircraft-leasing companies and airlines. The facility can work on all Boeing and Airbus Group EADSY +1.63% NV narrow-body jets.
Mr. Dickinson also aims to convince leasing companies to turn over their old, unused and unloved planes. He'll refurbish them, sublease them, and use his pilots to fly them, to help bolster airlines' fleets in busy periods, like the summer holidays.
Cardiff Aviation will provide the plane and pilots on ad hoc charters in Europe—"wet leasing" in industry jargon—and then fly the planes south for the winter to Asia to offer the same service to customers there. Mr. Dickinson hopes to begin wet leasing next year and plans to offer training for airlines pilots from his hub in Wales.
"It's knowing the niches that all these areas occupy and seeing how they fit together," Mr. Dickinson said on the sidelines of the Farnborough air show in England last month.
Authored by Rory Jones via wsj.com.