Aeromexico 787 C check Aeromexico

AeroMexico’s Case For Establishing In-house 787 Heavy MRO

AeroMexico outsourced its first five Boeing 787 C checks but then made the business case to bring that work inhouse to its Mexico City facility.

Printed headline: AeroMexico’s 787 Logic

PANAMA--As airlines and OEMs evaluate factors such as costs, supply chain risk and total turnaround time, the option to outsource is not being chosen as frequently as it was even a few years ago.

Take AeroMexico. It stopped doing its own widebody heavy maintenance about a decade ago, it lacked qualified staff to reboot the capability, and it didn’t have the right tooling and support equipment—so why did it consider bringing a Boeing 787 C check in-house?

A couple of factors were at play. AeroMexico had consolidated from two to one widebody type—the 787—after the airline retired its last Boeing 777 in February. AeroMexico started operating its first 787 in September 2013, and it now has nine 787-8s and seven -9s. Second, when the first 787 C checks were due in 2016—the aircraft also needed extensive seat reconfiguration and Wi-Fi installations--there weren’t many MROs with 787 experience.

So after its first five 787 C checks were done at Boeing Shanghai with AeroMexcio supervisors, quality control personnel and engineers observing, the airline concluded it could complete them in-house, Jorge Jacome, senior vice president of maintenance and engineering, said at Aviation Week’s MRO Latin America event.

AeroMexico’s tech ops team knewit would have to create a competitive business case, in line with what Boeing Shanghai did, to get financial approval to proceed, said Jacome.

Based on a conservative estimate, including the cost to ground an aircraft (a 787’s lease payments can be about $1 million per month, says Jacome), tooling, ferry costs, on-site team living expenses, material markups and manpower, the tech ops team forecast a 49% savings in completing C checks for 11 aircraft. AeroMexico’s financial committee approved it.

AeroMexico set up a special team to prepare for the 787 C check project.

“We first concentrated on confirming we had qualified and experienced people in-house,” said David Nakamura, senior vice president of engineering, planning and technical services.

Given its outsourcing strategy since 2003, the people issue was paramount. “For the 787 checks, we hired 42 temporary employees, including avionics, structures and airframe and powerplant technicians, as well as supervisors, inspectors and engineers,” Nakamura says. “We provided [the technicians] basic 737 training and assigned them to our line maintenance operation, which allowed us to remove experienced 787 technicians to be assigned to the check.”

AeroMexico completed the first C check and several modifications in 13 days. Without the modes, it would have been 708 days, says Nakamura. Of the 6,500 maintenance man-hours, 3,854 hr. were routine—the rest non-routine, which equates to “0.7 non-routine hours for every one routine; you expect it to be under one,” he says.

AeroMexico has not experienced any technical delays since finishing the first C check in November. It completed its second on Feb. 12, one day faster than the first due to lighter modification requirements.

AeroMexico plans to perform two more 787-9 C checks this year.

Now that the airline has ramped up the capability, what will it do with it? On the sidelines of MRO Latin America, Jacome told me Aeromexico “would consider doing third-party 787 C checks.”

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