As part of the "global maintenance agreement" (GMA), ATR has committed to providing access to spare parts, mainly LRUs, as well as managing the repair of these parts, landing gear and propeller blades. The contract will support Azul as it replaces the -500 aircraft in its fleet with -600s, 11 of which ATR is to deliver to the carrier this year. ATR's SVP of product support and services, Lilian Brayle, told Talking Point in an interview yesterday (April 16): "As a part of this agreement we adjust the technical and logistic support to the type of aircraft they operate; we transition with them. When we implement new rotables and we collect the unused rotables from the previous aircraft.
"We believe that we don't just sell an aircraft, but that we should take care of the customer throughout the lifecycle of the product and their operations. So if they change aircraft, we support that change." And to support Azul, ATR is expanding its aftermarket support network to Brazil and has already announced it is working with Helibras and TAP M&E.
ATR is setting up a warehouse to contain its spare parts inventory for the region at Helibras' site in Sao Paulo. Meanwhile, TAP M&E has been confirmed as ATR's first official parts repair centre in Brazil. This means that the MRO will provide repair services on components on behalf of ATR to fulfil its obligations under GMA contracts.
TAP M&E, which has also been approved by ATR to provide airframe MRO, is following in the footsteps of Fokker Services which provides component repair services for ATR in Singapore and Rheinland Air Services which does so in Germany.
"TAP M&E already has EASA certification on some of the main components for the ATR so it was a perfect fit," said Brayle "And it is close to getting full EASA and FAA certification on the ATR as a part of the project."
Brayle confirmed that ATR was "very eager" to see its other partners, both OEMs and MROs, investing in Brazil to support activity in the region. "We do not see ourselves as providing maintenance, but as an integrator of maintenance services," he said.
And while ATR has no target on MRO partnerships, Brayle confirms that with the volume of work it is seeing in the region "it would be nice to have five or six partners".
And it's little wonder. The ATR fleet in the region has more than doubled in size in the past 10 years and is set to hit more than 200 aircraft in 2016.
Alongside investing in a warehouse in Sao Paulo, ATR is increasing the inventory at its Miami warehouse, which is the main supply site for the region, by 35 per cent this year to meet demand.
I wonder how Embraer feels about the increased presence of its European competitor on its patch?