Analysis

Airline Insight: Aeromexico

Operating as one of the largest carriers in the burgeoning Latin America market, Aeromexico has one of the region’s largest fleets by aircraft size and has expanded its MRO activities in recent years. Jorge Jácome Armida, the airline’s corporate senior vice-president of maintenance and engineering, discusses some of the changes.

What in-house MRO facilities does Aeromexico have, in terms of hangar size, number of staff, and capabilities?

Aeroméxico has two large facilities at the Mexico City International Airport, including three hangars for minor checks and overnight services for the 787, 777, and 737 aircraft, while also servicing smaller aircraft including Embraer E190, E170 and ERJ145 fleets. Aeromexico also has additional maintenance facilities in Monterrey. Capabilities at this facility include several components shops that provide quick turnaround time for high rotation and high volume line-replaceable units. Aeromexico also holds Mexican Direction General of Civil Aeronautics and FAA certified repair station status with a staff of nearly 1,600 technicians and engineers. Aeromexico has also seen a lot of changes in its history, given the fact it is among the world’s oldest airlines, founded in 1934.

What do you think have been the most significant changes in how you approach MRO over that time?

Pretty much all aspects of Aeroméxico aircraft MRO activities have evolved over time. We used to run an MRO with full capabilities for aircraft heavy maintenance for 767, 757, 737 and MD80 fleets. However, in more recent years, we decided to form a joint venture with our partner Delta Airlines and built brand new facilities in Queretaro, México, called “Tech Ops Mexico” for our narrowbody heavy maintenance requirements for the Aeromexico and Aeromexico Connect fleets, as well as some of our partners’ fleets. In terms of engines, we also transitioned from being a partner in a JT8D MRO JV years ago, to outsource all of our MRO engine requirements with either OEMs or recognised independent engine repair shops, under cost per hour and comprehensive total care plans.

What are some of the key elements of Aeromexico’s current maintenance strategy?

As stated earlier, our narrowbody heavy maintenance requirements are all done exclusively by Tech Ops Mexico. This has allowed us to reach good and consistent service standards and levels throughout our fleet. We continue to use well-known MRO shops around the world for our widebody fleet, as this gives us the right level of coverage when taking into account the size and age of our fleet.

What do you foresee as the next big challenge for your airline’s maintenance teams?

A challenge certainly lies in the widebody fleet, which is undergoing a renewal process as Aeromexico is replacing the 777 and 767 models with new 787 aircraft. As the fleet continues to grow, we will have to analyse the need to develop internal capabilities for our future widebody heavy maintenance requirements.

What technologies have you invested in recent years to support your MRO teams?

We are currently in the process of replacing our legacy MRO IT systems that have served the airline’s maintenance activities for many years. By the end of 2016, we are scheduled the go-live of the AMOS MRO software system that together with new processes and best industry practices will take us to a new level with the planning and control of our maintenance activities. This will hopefully lead to further efficiency improvements.

What technologies will have the biggest impact on MRO in the future?

Going wireless on many tools and systems is a big trend at present. With this in mind, Aeromexico has developed certain tools and implemented systems to facilitate technical information and registration activities for our technical staff. We have done this in order to minimise workloads and maximise efficiencies.

What does Aeromexico look for in an MRO partner — be it a supplier, logistics firm or service provider?

One critical element for any partnership is the concept of a long-term relationship. This includes excellent communications, information exchange, and openness to understand each other requirements. All of these components are relevant for both parties to develop mutual benefits for a reliable and quality service at the right cost and with a good turnaround time.

Much has been said about a “skills gap” in the MRO sector, how is Aeromexico working to bridge this gap?

One advantage that we have at Aeroméxico is that our MRO joint venture with Delta Airlines was created with “airline” personnel that understands airline requirements, allowing Tech Ops Mexico to grow in terms of capabilities and capacity. Aeroméxico also has its own Training Center, where all technical staff, which includes pilots, flight attendants, and airports and ground services personnel receive periodical training courses and qualifications to stay current with the latest standards required by the commercial aviation industry.

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