Comac is in talks with various MRO operators about maintenance for the ARJ21 regional jet, with Taikoo (Shandong) Aircraft Engineering Company (STAECO) having expressed strong interest.
In an interview with Flightglobal, Wang Zhenwei, director of flight training at Comac’s Shanghai Aircraft Customer Service, says no formal agreements have been reached with STAECO, but that some of its staff are undergoing training at Comac.
Before launch customer Chengdu Airlines' first ARJ21 is due for a C-check, a third party MRO provider will have the capability to conduct heavy maintenance of the type, he adds.
The Chinese manufacturer plans to deliver the first production ARJ21 to Chengdu Airlines in November, and Wang says it has thus far been a steep learning curve for Comac as it sets up customer service and after support capabilities.
“Everything was started from scratch. There were no systems in place, no structure, no experienced team. We developed everything on our own,” says Wang.
Shanghai Aircraft Customer Service was set up in October 2008, seven months after Comac itself was established.
In recent years the centre has developed training modules for pilots, cabin crew and maintenance personnel, and also written its own flight and maintenance manuals. The manufacturer also has to prepare for technical support and inventory management.
Wang says Comac is also collaborating with various experienced players. These include working with CAE in technical training while engaging FedEx to better understand spare parts logistics maintenance. It has interacted with Fokker regarding aircraft modifications, design improvements and maintenance training.
“Even if we collaborate, we need to build our own capabilities, we cannot just pass it on to someone else to do it. This has always been our stand,” says Wang.
With the near delivery of the ARJ21 to Chengdu Airlines, the centre has been training airline staff to ensure a smooth entry into service. It has also started developing after support capabilities for the C919 narrowbody program.
(Mavis Toh - Flightglobal News)