Wings Magazine

Features MRO
Air Canada airframe agreements with AAR and Avianor


February 24, 2020
By Wings Staff


Topics
Air Canada plans for a capacity reduction of 85 to 90 per cent. (Image: Air Canada, Airbus)

Air Canada today announced that it has entered into letters of intent with each of AAR Aircraft Services and Avianor Inc. regarding long-term agreements for airframe maintenance. The agreements with the two companies, based in Trois-Rivières and Mirabel, Quebec, respectively, are subject to completion of the flag carrier’s planned merger with Transat A.T.

These long-term agreements, explains Air Canada, would enable each of AAR and Avianor to develop Airframe Maintenance Centres of Excellence in Quebec for the aircraft types within their areas of expertise.

Air Canada continues to explain the larger combined Airbus A330 fleet of Air Canada and Air Transat would enable it to move wide-body A330 maintenance work for both airlines from abroad to AAR in Trois-Rivières, in addition to maintaining and expanding AAR’s airframe maintenance work in Quebec on the A320 family, including all new A321neo aircraft.

In addition, Avianor would establish a new Centre of Excellence for Air Canada’s new Airbus A220 fleet in Mirabel, adjacent to Airbus’ manufacturing facilities. The letters of intent are subject to completion of final agreements.

AAR agreement details
AAR currently performs airframe maintenance work in Trois-Rivières on Air Canada’s existing Airbus A320 fleet, as mentioned above, and Embraer E190 fleet, which is being phased out.

Air Canada and AAR have entered into a letter of intent focused on a 10-year renewable agreement for airframe maintenance of both Air Canada’s and Air Transat’s fleet of Airbus A330 and A320 family of aircraft (including the new A321neo) in Trois-Rivières, Quebec.

AAR intends to make the necessary facility infrastructure investments in Trois-Rivières to accommodate the new wide-body A330 work of the combined Air Canada and Air Transat fleets, given that there would be sufficient volumes of heavy maintenance work to support such an investment and to develop a Centre of Excellence. Through this agreement, it is expected that incremental aerospace jobs will be created in Trois-Rivières and AAR’s new capabilities should enable it to attract airframe maintenance work from other operators of the A330.

“From our very first project in Trois-Rivières, we’ve seen a strong commitment to quality, safety and operational performance,” said Rich Steer, senior vice-president, operations, Air Canada. “With our largest hub a short distance away, we’re excited to have a trusted partner like AAR with a similar commitment to excellence, and also proud to be increasing heavy maintenance work in Quebec, especially on wide-body aircraft. This contract for additional work in Trois-Rivières represents a long-term investment in increased airframe maintenance in Quebec.”

“We are honoured to work closely with a highly regarded carrier like Air Canada for so many years and to be chosen as their maintenance provider for the A330 and A320 family fleet types,” said Chris Jessup, Chief Commercial Officer, AAR Corp. “AAR is proud to support the Canadian economy and to grow our overall footprint in Trois-Rivières, especially for the A330.”

AAR Aircraft Services is wholly-owned and operated by AAR Corp. with more than 290,000 square feet of facilities in Trois-Rivières, Quebec and Windsor, Ontario, along with facilities in the United States. AAR took over Premier Aviation’s facilities in Trois-Rivières and Windsor in 2017. Founded in 2002, the Trois-Rivières facility in 2012 started to perform MRO services for some of Air Canada’s Embraer fleet, including painting and supporting backshops.

AAR expanded Trois-Rivières MRO competencies in 2017 by performing all MRO services on Air Canada’s Airbus A319, A320 and A321 aircraft. In September 2017, Air Canada awarded a 10-year contract to AAR for the maintenance of its 125 Airbus A320 and Embraer E190 single-aisle aircraft at the AAR facilities in Trois-Rivières ARR nots this contract – work that was was transferred to Quebec from AAR’s Duluth, Minnesota facility – contributed to the continuation of 350 specialized jobs. This work was transferred to Quebec from AAR’s Duluth, Minnesota facility.

Avianor agreement details
Air Canada and Avianor also entered into a letter of intent that provides for a 10-year agreement for airframe maintenance with Air Canada, focusing on its new fleet of Airbus A220 aircraft in Mirabel, Quebec. Air Canada has a firm order of 45 A220s with options for an additional 30 aircraft. Its initial aircraft entered into service in January 2020.

Avianor notes it is progressing well in what the company refers to as its study phase to construct a new 250,000-square-foot hangar in Mirabel in close proximity to the A220 manufacturing facilities of Airbus Canada (formerly the Bombardier facilities). The company notes this move would strategically position it in the heavy maintenance, modification and completion of narrow-body aircraft and other key aircraft programs. The Air Canada work would also position Avianor to attract airframe maintenance work from other A220 operators, as well to encourage other suppliers of the A220 to consider establishing operations nearby.

“We have been very pleased with the work performed in Quebec by Avianor on Air Canada’s fleet over the last years,” said Rich Steer, senior VP, operations, Air Canada. “This contract assures Air Canada of a quality solution for our Airbus A220 heavy maintenance needs in Quebec through Avianor’s extensive and proven capabilities in this field.”

Avianor was recently acquired by the Drakkar & Partner’s Aerospace & Ground Transportation Division. Avianor has positioned itself as a vertical integrator in the market, specializing in maintenance, modifications and aircraft completions. The company holds more than 200,000 square feet of hangars, repair shops, fabrication facilities and warehouse space at Mirabel Airport (YMX) and employs more than 350 people.

“We are confident in our ability to provide world-class quality, genuine partnerships and proven customer support while allowing ourselves to envision an enviable Centre of Excellence which could eventually regroup a variety of services such as maintenance, engineering, certification, education and training capabilities under one roof,” said Benoit Hudon, president and CEO, Aerospace & Ground Transportation Division of DRAKKAR.

In November 2019, Avianor received Transport Canada approval to add the Airbus A220-100 and A220-300 to its maintenance capability list.