Copa Airlines is in a growth mode—it plans to increase its fleet by 25% by 2020—with the first of 71 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft arriving in August.
This year it should receive five 737 MAX aircraft, followed by 10 in 2019 and 22 in 2022, says Ahmad Zamany, VP technical operations, speaking at Aviation Week Network’s MRO Latin America event. The last of the 71 should arrive in 2025.
Zamany says entry into service (EIS) plans are on schedule and is confident from a technical perspective that it will stay on target. Copa, which started EIS tasks such as aircraft configuration in 2016, has issued purchase orders for the first batch of spare parts and tooling. Staff training is underway.
Its predominant fleet—737-800s--will cap out at 71 this year—up from 69 in 2017.
Its Embraer 190 fleet will decline from 20 to 19 this year and stay level through 2020, says Zamany.
Based on fleet reliability findings, Copa is the process of extending the 737-800 A checks to 90 days from 60 (with hour and cycle limitations), which will decrease aircraft downtime. However, the extended checks will require “a few additional task cards and a few that need to be done in between,” yet the A checks can still be completed overnight, says Zamany.
To accommodate the expanding fleet, the Panama-based carrier broke ground on a new maintenance hangar in 2017 that should be finished in the fourth quarter of this year, says Zamany. The hangar, capable of fitting three 737 Max 9s simultaneously, is a pre-fabricated concept hangar built by GMI of Mexico, which is also laying the foundation.