Aeromexico Considers Bringing Widebody MRO In-house

On the sidelines of Aviation Week’s MRO Latin America, Aeromexico’s senior vice president-maintenance and engineering discusses bringing widebody MRO in-house and rolling out mobile applications for MRO.

Jorge Jacome, Aeromexico’s senior vice president of maintenance and engineering, talks with Lee Ann Shay about changes to the airline’s fleet this year and TechOps Mexico, its joint venture with Delta Air Lines.

Aeromexico recently has either started or expanded its codeshare agreements with GOL, KLM and Garuda Indonesia.  Does this create any new line maintenance opportunities?

These codeshare agreements are more focused on increasing passenger connectivity and the combination of commercial operations. That will give our customers more benefits, so they can buy one ticket for a specific route and have single check-in and baggage processes. For line maintenance, at this moment, we don’t foresee any changes for the way we work. These airlines are not flying to the same destinations or to the same stations where we operate—or the type of fleet they operate is different than what we have, so we don’t see any line maintenance opportunities in the short term.  

How many new Boeing and Embraer aircraft will Aeromexico be accepting this year? What is involved in the induction process for each? 

Jorge Jacome, Aeromexico’s senior vice president of maintenance and engineering

Our fleet plan includes two additional Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners, so we will finish the year with 17 widebodies for the fleet. In addition, we are adding four additional Boeing 737-800s and four Embraer 190s. For the inductions, in the case of the Dreamliners, they come from the assembly line, so they just need to comply with some regulatory issues to start commercial operations. In the case of the second-hand airplanes that we incorporate, like the narrowbodies, they are subject to a very strict acceptance process where all of the technical and regulatory requirements are reviewed by our engineers. They also are inducted into our reconfiguration process to fulfill our cabin standards.

What are the capabilities at Aeromexico’s maintenance facilities? Are any of your strategies for those facilities changing?

Our facilities in Mexico City, Monterrey and Guadalajara are focused on providing line maintenance activities to Grupo Aeromexico. All of these facilities are DGAC- [Mexico’s Directorate General of Civil Aeronautics] or FAA-certified repair stations. In the case of Mexico City, we have several component repair shops with a large capability to repair and overhaul high-demand line replaceable units, which makes our operation more efficient. I don’t foresee any changes to the scope of work at these facilities. Mexico City maintains all types of Boeing and Embraer fleet products. In Guadalajara, we have the same concept, and in Monterrey, it is more focused on the regional jets and Embraer 145s, but it also does some line maintenance for the Boeing fleet.

What are Aeromexico’s plans for servicing its widebody aircraft? Would you consider bringing that work in-house?

Right now, we outsource widebody heavy maintenance to MROs in North America or China because of the size of the fleet we have. However, we are evaluating whether to bring back this work to our Mexico City facilities considering the level of work, the borescope and technical requirements, as well as the age of the 787 fleet. So maybe in the future, we would start doing the first C checks for the fleet—perhaps by the end of the year or early next year. We outsourced the first checks to an MRO in China, Boeing Shanghai, because we had to include some modifications where we didn’t have the capability. But after those first airplanes, the rest of the fleet doesn’t require the Wi-Fi system modifications and the cabin reconfiguration, so we are evaluating whether to do the C checks in-house.

Last year around this time, TechOps Mexico planned to only need seven of the nine bays for partner aircraft so you could start adding third-party clients by mid-2016. Did this happen?

We are partners with Delta for this joint venture, and it is the sole supplier of our narrowbody heavy checks. So they perform all of our Boeing and Embraer narrowbody maintenance, which accounts for about 85% of our fleet. And it will continue to be the only supplier.

TechOps increased its capacity and has up to 12 narrowbody production lines. Basically, 50% of that capacity is for Aeromexico’s fleet and the other 50% is for Delta [Air Lines]. They are at full capacity—doing heavy maintenance and cabin improvements—but it has the opportunity to grow the facility, so maybe in the future, it would look for third-party work.  

Is Aeromexico’s fleet undergoing any major cabin improvements right now?

The last two years we’ve been working on cabin improvements—including the installation of the inflight entertainment system on the Boeing and E-Jet fleets.  We also have been working on interior improvements, and during 2017, we will continue with these programs. So yes, we are investing to make the customers’ cabin experience better and provide more services.

What’s that status of upgrading your MRO IT system to AMOS and EmpowerMX?

Two years ago, Grupo Aeromexico decided to replace legacy systems we had in the two airlines, and we selected AMOS. We planned to implement the system in two years. The good news is that AMOS implementation has been a success for Grupo, and it went live in November 2016 for the Aeromexico fleet. We decided to do it in two phases: first for the Aeromexico fleet, which are the Boeings, and the second phase will be the Embraer fleet for Aeromexico Connect. The second phase will go live in the first week of March. Aeromexico doesn’t use EmpowerMX—that is the system that TechOps Mexico is using for production control. But we are working together to connect the two systems to exchange information.

How has the AMOS system changed your operations?

We foresee benefits on the production side and also for record-keeping for the airline, but it’s too early to see all of the benefits. However, people are happy with the system and they are using it in offices as well as using the mobile functionality, which we are working with AMOS to implement across the whole network in the coming months. We foresee a lot of benefits on the technical and logistics side, as well as the control of documentation.

How is the mobile application working?

Right now, we have dedicated stations in all of the areas of the maintenance operations—hangars, shops and offices—where you can consult the system: whatever is related to a part number, service bulletin or maintenance task. The mobile application allows technicians to see maintenance tasks or parts availability in the warehouse, for example, and not have to move to one of these stations. They also have access to the technical library via [Boeing’s] ToolBox. In the first phase, we supplied iPads to all of the line maintenance technicians, which is about 60% of the population. In the second phase, we will provide iPads to the shop mechanics, so then 100% of production personnel will have them. People can take pictures and videos of maintenance underway and share them among stations, supervisors, engineering or quality control. It’s a new tool and it’s a good opportunity to expedite information. 

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