Mitsubishi Aircraft has begun ramping up the MRO network for its forthcoming Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) by confirming partnerships with three maintenance providers to service the aircraft in the Asia-Pacific region and North America.
Announced at the Farnborough International Airshow, the first letter of intent (LOI) was signed with MRO Japan, the maintenance subsidiary of All Nippon Airways (ANA). Operating out of Osaka International Airport before moving to a new facility at Naha Airport in Okinawa in 2017, MRO Japan will hold capabilities for a full scope of services for Asia-based MRJ customers including base and heavy maintenance checks.
Two further LOIs were signed for Mitsubishi Aircraft to partner with U.S. MRO providers HAECO Americas and PEMCO World Air Services. The HAECO agreement will see the Greensboro, North Carolina-headquartered company offer both scheduled and unscheduled airframe maintenance, along with additional services including service bulletin incorporation and post-production modification. The HAECO Group subsidiary said it expects to finalize a formal service network contract with Mitsubishi Aircraft “in the near future.”
Mitsubishi Aircraft’s tie-up with Florida-headquartered PEMCO will allow the MRO to offer airframe maintenance services including applicable letter and heavy checks, structural repairs, modifications and warranty work. PEMCO said the move was intended by both companies to improve efficiencies and cost advantages to MRJ operators.
Peter Turner, Mitsubishi Aircraft’s deputy head of customer support division, says, “The conclusion of these LOIs with our initial MRJ preferred airframe MRO partners will greatly strengthen our customer support capabilities for our aircraft MRO services.”
Turner adds that the aircraft manufacturer will identify more preferred airframe MRO partners for the MRJ in future, with the expansion of the maintenance network to be decided based on regional requirements.
The Pratt & Whitney PW1000G-powered MRJ’s entry into service is set for the second half of 2018 with airline launch customer ANA, after being delayed by another year in December 2015 due to the discovery of insufficient wing strength and proposal of a landing-gear redesign to improve safety.
Mitsubishi has more than 400 commitments and options for its 76-seat MRJ70 and 88-seat MRJ90 variants, with Swedish lessor Rockton signing an LOI at Farnborough for 10 MRJ90s, becoming the first European MRJ customer.