Hawaiian Airline aircraft in MRO facility Hawaiian Airlines
Hawaiian at Honolulu but outsources around 60% of its workload.

Hawaiian Finds Right Mix Of In-House, Outsourced Services

Hawaiian using its own maintenance services as well as outsourced MRO to handle major fleet changes.

Printed headline: Hawaiian Airlines


Jim Landers, senior vice president of technical operations at Hawaiian Airlines, talks to James Pozzi about the airline’s new maintenance hangar in Honolulu and the carrier’s plans for its technical services.

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

Now in our 90th year of operation, and as a leader in on-time performance among North American carriers for the past 15 years, we value and guard the reputation of safe and reliable service entrusted to us. We focus on “doing it right the first time and by the book every time.” At Hawaiian Airlines’ current scale, we strive to strike the right balance between in-house and outsourced work. For our outsourced work, we seek value and flexibility.

What does Hawaiian look for when choosing an MRO partner?

Prior to selecting an MRO partner, we consider several factors, including: What is their reputation for delivering quality at a fair cost? What is their geographical location and scheduled turnaround time? Also, what is their reputation for schedule flexibility and willingness to accommodate inevitable schedule changes?

What are Hawaiian’s maintenance capabilities?

We recently took occupancy of a new hangar at Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport (HNL), which features new equipment and the latest in safety systems, making us more efficient in servicing our growing fleet. Today, we perform the full scope of maintenance (from line servicing to heavy maintenance checks, including 12-year and 60,000-cycle) on our 20 Boeing 717s. Hawaiian also performs the full scope of maintenance on our 13 new Airbus A321neos flying between the U.S. West Coast and Hawaii. We are taking delivery of five more A321neos through next year. With less than two years in service, our requirements for this fleet have been so far limited to line maintenance tasks. For our 24 Airbus A330 long-haul aircraft, we can complete all line maintenance requirements up to an A check. We also recently received our FAA Part 145 certification, enabling the growth of our own technical services revenue stream.

Many airlines like to mix outsourced maintenance with in-house services. How much of its maintenance does Hawaiian outsource?

Like most of our industry partners, we outsource our engine and most of our component maintenance. Additionally, based on our limited scheduled frequency to many of our destinations, we contract line maintenance services. We outsource all heavy maintenance on our A330 widebody fleet, as we do not have a facility optimized for the industrial capacity required for many of those tasks. Approximately 60% of our total maintenance budget is outsourced.

Hawaiian is undergoing a big refresh of its fleet. The Boeing 767 has left the fleet while the Boeing 787-9 is expected in two years’ time. How has this fleet turnaround affected the maintenance operation? 

With any fleet transition, there are both opportunities and challenges. The Boeing 767 was a venerable workhorse for Hawaiian Airlines for most of the past two decades. As this aircraft left our network, our maintenance capacity shifted to take on our new A321neos, and we increased our in-house level of effort for overnight maintenance on our A330s. As we look toward the arrival of the 787, our team is already working with Boeing to gain insight into the technology that drives a different approach to maintenance on this aircraft. From the big data that the aircraft delivers to inform preventative maintenance decisions to the all-composite structure reducing the incidence of corrosion, we are very much looking forward to welcoming the 787 and the opportunity to become experts with this fleet type. And of course, we are pleased to reap the cost-saving benefit of the heavy maintenance honeymoon common with any fleet transition

Deliveries of the 787-9 will begin in 2021, marking the induction of a brand-new aircraft into the fleet. What are your plans in terms of training maintenance teams for the aircraft’s arrival?

We’ll start training our highly skilled technicians using technical training provided by the OEM. This will allow us to prepare our staff accordingly for the aircraft’s arrival and ensure maintenance requirements are met based on systemwide induction schedules and operational logistics.

What are some other key challenges facing your MRO operation?

While we can meet our staffing requirements, we are constantly recruiting, as demand for skilled maintenance technicians remains high as airlines have expanded globally. Later this year, we will begin performing “customer” MRO maintenance on our “Ohana by Hawaiian” fleet of ATR-42s used for passenger service between Honolulu, Moloka‘i, Lana‘i and West Maui, and ATR-72s used for all-cargo flights between Honolulu, Lihu‘e on Kaua‘i and Hilo on the island of Hawaii.

Which technologies in Hawaiian excited about for its MRO operation?

We are currently beta-testing new technology with TRAX Mobility, which will streamline access to resources our technicians need, including technical documentation, OEM manuals, capabilities for sign-off and aircraft release. We are also exploring predictive maintenance tools and GPS tracking for ground support equipment. These resources all play a significant role in our U.S. industry-leading on-time performance measures and technician productivity.

The average technician age in North America is around the mid-40s. What is the airline’s experience of hiring technical talent? Has this proved challenging, and what methods does it use?

We are fortunate to be able to select from a pool of people who want to work in the beautiful islands of Hawaii. We can pick the very best talent, and they stay with us for a long time. Over our 90 years, we have built a huge amount of institutional knowledge. That is invaluable because of the unique challenges of flying to, from and among the islands. We also partner with Honolulu Community College’s Aeronautics Maintenance and Technology Program to recruit local talent via an apprenticeship program set up with the support of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.

Hawaiian Airlines

Jim Landers, senior vice president of technical operations at Hawaiian Airlines

Hawaiian Airlines Fact File

History: Founded in 1929. 

Fleet: Airbus A321neo, A330-200 and Boeing 717-200 aircraft. Boeing 787-9 deliveries begin in 2021. 

MRO Facilities: One maintenance hangar in Honolulu handles most maintenance needs.

Maintenance partners: 

Aviation Technical Services, MRO Holdings, Qantas Engineering, Delta Tech Ops, Ascent Aviation Services, Singapore Airlines Engineering Co., International Aerospace Coatings (IAC), Dean Baldwin Painting and AAR. 


Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.