MRO Management

Steady progress: Etihad Engineering continues expansion

Etihad Engineering, MRO management, fleet

Etihad Engineering continues to expand and grow its capabilities.

With 2019 looking like a record year, Frederic Dupont, vice president, technical sales & customer service at Etihad Engineering, says the company (recently rebranded from Etihad Airways Engineering) is facing a capacity challenge at the moment, as work continues to roll in.

It has managed to add additional apron space, with parking for up to 10 widebody aircraft, and the space currently occupied by AMMROC next door will become available when the military MRO moves about 100km southeast to Al Ain.

Etihad Airways

However, Etihad is planning a new facility rather than taking over those facilities, so there will be a construction lead time. He suggests there are two alternatives – erection of a temporary structure in Abu Dhabi or acquisition of an MRO facility elsewhere.

Part of the demand comes from being part of the Airbus MRO Alliance and a centre of excellence for the Airbus A380. As the aircraft entered service in October 2007, there will an increasing number of complex 12-year (12Y) checks coming up.

Experience has been gained on aircraft from Etihad Airways and third-party customers in the Middle East, Asia, Europe and Australia and next year will see three aircraft from one of these carriers arrive with the work to be carried out alongside a major cabin configuration.

Etihad Airways, Etihad Engineering

Earlier this year, it received UAE General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) for the A350. The first aircraft for maintenance came from long-term client LATAM Airlines group. This was for a C check and modifications, followed by full stripping and painting of the aircraft in LATAM’s livery.

The airline deliberately runs a nose-to-tail programme to minimise ferry flights, with aircraft arriving in Abu Dhabi having carried out a flight from South America to Europe, aircraft departing after maintenance in time to operate the return flight.

However, this check was carried out in January at Tarbes in France. The company had signed an MoU with TARMAC Aerosave (an industrial group specialising in aircraft maintenance, storage and recycling and owned jointly by Airbus, Safran and Suez).

Etihad Engineering

An Etihad Engineering team flew from Abu Dhabi to carry out and support the check, receiving hands-on Part 147 training in the process, ahead of the first local check in March. The MoU also covers the provision of Part 145 maintenance services and products to customers around the world.

The next step, he says, is to achieve A320neo Family approval. An international development earlier this year was a collaboration agreement with Argentina’s main aircraft manufacturer, Fabrica Argentina de Aviones (FAdeA), to provide narrowbody aircraft maintenance services at FAdeA’s facility in Córdoba.

This is a logical step, he explains, as Etihad Engineering has a strong customer base in Latin America, having carried out heavy maintenance work on Airbus A330, Boeing 767, 777 and 787 for customers in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, and Colombia.

Etihad Engineering

In addition, Etihad Engineering will be FAdeA’s preferred partner for Part 21J Engineering and Part 21G Production.

The first maintenance contract was with LAN Argentina, for cabin reconfiguration on seven Airbus A320 aircraft. To date, there have been more than 20 inputs, including 6Y checks.

He says the company has a focus on efficiencies driven by technology and it has set up an innovation steering committee to identify opportunities and to build a development roadmap. It also has a Design, Engineering and Innovation department.

Etihad, Etihad Engineering

Another area for development is component repair, where the company is expanding its portfolio. An example is a 15-year agreement signed at the end of 2018 with Moog, which sees the OEM provide global access to its component pool as well as complete repair support on a range of part numbers fitted to the Etihad fleet.

The agreement also provides for support to expand the MRO’s component capability onsite, which will improve its offering for third party work.

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