Miguel Montoya Avianca
Miguel Montoya, senior vice president of engineering and maintenance at Avianca.

Avianca Seeks Expansion In Colombia Through Star Alliance

Avianca taking steps to add MRO capabilities in conjunction with service expansion and alliance with United and Copa.

Printed headline: Avianca Holdings

Miguel Montoya, senior vice president of engineering and maintenance at Avianca, has led several large projects for the airline group, including launch of the Rionegro City, Colombia, MRO and adoption of the AMOS integrated software package. He also was responsible for standardizing technical processes and digitalizing systems at Avianca Holdings.

Avianca Holdings is reportedly planning to launch a regional carrier in Colombia early this year. Is this still in the works, and if so, what is the status of it?

In 2019, Avianca will begin operating a regional subsidiary airline to serve routes to medium and small cities in Colombia. Through this airline, Avianca aims to improve connectivity and drive aeronautical development in Colombia. This new airline will offer new destinations and new direct flights from different cities within Colombia, not just from the capital.

We expect the fleet to have 12-15 ATR 72 and ATR 42 aircraft, which can operate at smaller airports. The operation aims to be more flexible and efficient. The airline is on its way to gaining regulatory approval to operate in 2019.

How is the business agreement between Avianca, Copa Airlines and United Airlines going to work?

On Nov. 30, Avianca Holdings’ airlines (Avianca) announced that it has reached an agreement with United Airlines and Copa Airlines to realize a strategic and commercial partnership that will bring new service and innovation for passengers traveling between the U.S. and 19 countries in Latin America. Avianca expects this agreement to bring benefits to travelers, communities and the marketplace. The companies—all members of Star Alliance—reached the agreement following a global trend toward similar cooperative arrangements in the airline industry.

By integrating their complementary networks in this strategic and commercial partnership, Avianca, United and Copa expect the agreement to cover the U.S. and many Latin American countries, including Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guyana, French Guyana, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Surinam, Uruguay and Venezuela. 

Avianca

Avianca operates ATR 42s and 72s as part of its fleet.

It is important to highlight that the main benefits of this alliance are for air travelers, including joint service between the companies so that customers will have more than 12,000 connection options, new nonstop routes, additional flights on existing routes and reduced travel times.

It has been eight years since Avianca and TACA merged. Does Avianca still send any maintenance to Aeroman, which used to be part of TACA?

The contract between TACA and Aeroman to complete services ended in December 2016, where there were two production lines contracted to support TACA. Since the launch of the Avianca MRO in Rionegro (near Medellin, Colombia) in 2017, all the maintenance services of the holding are being carried out at this MRO of Avianca, one of the most modern maintenance centers in Latin America, with capacity to service more than 100 aircraft per year.  

Has Avianca’s recently launched new service to Munich increased your company’s work with Lufthansa Technik? How will this new service affect Avianca’s MRO operations?

Avianca signed an agreement with Lufthansa on Nov. 15, 2018, which covers line maintenance services at Munich station. Avianca has no technical personnel at this base, so we decided to have a third party perform line maintenance, in this case, Lufthansa.

Avianca has multiple contracts for maintenance services with many MRO providers where Avianca has no personnel on site or has no capability to perform them. Such service providers fulfill all Avianca maintenance manual requirements and regulatory standards.

Avianca Cargo recently began operating direct cargo flights to Brussels. Which company is handling MRO for Avianca in that location?

Avianca Cargo is currently in negotiations with Lufthansa Technik Brussels to define the terms and scope of the maintenance services required for the Airbus A330 cargo fleet that is operating in Europe.

Avianca had to ground some of its Boeing 787 aircraft due to Trent 1000 engine repairs. How have the repairs progressed, and when are regular  operations expected to start again?

Avianca is operating all of its aircraft thanks to the planning and repetitive inspections that have given us a prudent reaction time responding to aircraft-on-ground situations in very short time frames. In 2019, due to the issue of repairs for the Trent 1000, we hope to have one aircraft at a time on the ground (for repairs) throughout the year. Rolls-Royce said that the definitive answers to the problems of the engines will begin to be implemented in early 2019, so it is expected that by 2020 the operation of the 787 fleet will be fully normalized.

Avianca is equipping its aircraft with Wi-Fi. What is the progress on that project?

Last Nov. 26, Avianca began a free trial of Inmarsat’s GX Aviation inflight broadband service on selected aircraft. At the moment, the services are offered on two Airbus A320s: N284AV and N562AV.

The introduction of inflight broadband on our first aircraft is a milestone in Avianca’s digital transformation and supports our mission to provide a world-class onboard experience for passengers. During this trial period, we will continue to monitor and fine-tune the service performance prior to entering commercial service next year.

The initiative marks the Latin American debut of GX Aviation, Avianca’s Wi-Fi supplier and the world’s first and only global, high-speed inflight broadband service, delivered through a wholly owned and operated network of Global Xpress high-throughput satellites.


Under Avianca’s extended global maintenance agreement with ATR from last year, Aircraft Propeller Service was set to provide propeller training to Avianca’s technicians. What was involved with that training, and are Avianca’s technicians handling propeller repairs in-house now?

This training is related to line maintenance operations and basic inspections to be performed during transit and overnight checks. Avianca has no plans to increase its propeller repair rating in the coming years.

Are there other plans to bring more work in-house?

Avianca is always looking to increase its capabilities for in-house work if the business case analysis supports it. In 2018, we included several new repair items, highlighting these in particular:

Boeing 787 airframe heavy check rating: three airframe heavy checks already performed in 2018 and four scheduled for 2019

  • Emergency slide/life raft repair for the 787
  • Panasonic IFEX1 and IFEX2 7-, 9- and 10-in. screen repair
  • CFM56 engine mount inspection and repair 
  • Oven control panel repairs for Boeing 787, Airbus A320 and A330


For 2019, we will include the following: 

  • Flight crew seat overhaul and emergency slide maintenance for the 787 fleet
  • Flight crew and portable oxygen bottle overhaul
  • Powered drive unit repairs for the A330 cargo fleet
  • Retractable landing light on the A320 and cooling fan repairs for the A320 and A330 fleets
  • Increasing our calibration capabilities in Salvador and including vibration calibration capability.

Avianca began using AMOS MRO software in 2016. Has the company implemented any other software or technological solutions since then?

Avianca replaced the SIO operations system, through NetLine, to standardize the holding company’s operating system and integrate it with AMOS for control of flight hours and cycles. Additionally, the use of iPads for maintenance technicians was implemented, so they can access AMOS Mobile, maintenance manuals and social networks with the use of Windows 365. Also, there was implementation of the electronic flight bag with the use of iPads in the cockpit for pilots and co-pilots. 

Avianca

Miguel Montoya, senior vice president of engineering and maintenance at Avianca.

Avianca Holdings

Airline subsidiary locations: Colombia, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Peru

Fleet: 190 aircraft

Destinations: More than 100 destinations in 28 countries

Airline Alliance: Star Alliance, since 2012

Merger: Merged with TACA in 2010

Founding: In 1919; 2019 marks 100 years of continuous operation

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