Regional Carriers Mixing Up MRO Models

By Carole Shifrin
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology

The carrier conducts some component work inside, completes certain avionics repairs at its Palm Springs and Fresno, Calif., bases , performs its own interior work on its aircraft, and works on wheels and tires in its accessory shop.

When deciding between in-house and outside assignments, Gibson considers three criteria—reliability, cost and efficiency.

“Sometimes we can do it in-house and turn it much quicker than they can outside,” Gibson says. The turn-time is essential because it affects the requirement for spares.

The same three criteria will determine the maintenance plan when SkyWest brings the Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ) into its fleet, Gibson says. The airline has ordered 100 MRJ90s, with first deliveries set for 2017.

SkyWest has eight maintenance bases and eight line stations with more than 1,300 employees, including 758 A&P mechanics and inspectors.

Because of the widespread nature of SkyWest's network, having maintenance bases nationwide is important “to get the required touch times with the airplanes,” Gibson says. Nashville was added to its list of bases last year because some of the aircraft it operates on behalf of Delta were repositioned and it needed more touch times in that part of the country.

The line bases are in locations where there is a heavy flow of aircraft.

Although both SkyWest and its sister airline ExpressJet operate large numbers of CRJs, and to some of the same airports, Gibson says they are generally separate operations. For example, while both fly to Houston, ExpressJet offers ERJ 145s there while SkyWest uses CRJs.

Canadian regional airline Jazz Aviation performs its own heavy maintenance at Halifax, Nova Scotia, and London, Ontario, and at its component MRO facility in Calgary, Alberta, according to Richard Steer, vice president for maintenance and engineering.

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