By Rafiq Vayani
ABU DHABI: Etihad Engineering, the Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) arm of Etihad Aviation Group, has been expanding its operations in aircraft maintenance and parking, to meet the new requirements of airline operators as fleets have been grounded due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The MRO provider continues to adapt to the ever-changing market needs and leverages its one-stop-shop service to cater to an increase in parking requirements and opportunistic maintenance. Operators from around the world have worked closely with the MRO to bring forward maintenance work that was initially planned towards the end of the year.
The current projects involve the delivery of cabin uplift, passenger to freighter conversion, longer on modification, heavy maintenance (C-check), major structural modification, parking solutions, painting and deep cleaning of aircraft or both Etihad Airways and third-party airline customers.
The MRO provider has collaborated with Etihad Airways on a major project to conduct a full cabin refresh on all 96passenger aircraft. The refurbishment includes cabin renovations, interior detailing, seat repairs and a full sweep of the inflight entertainment system. The refurbishment project is due to be completed by the end of June.
Frederic Dupont, Vice President Technical Sales & Customer Service, Etihad Engineering, stated: “While the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a toll on the aviation sector at large, we have been doing our best to find the opportunity amidst the crisis. We have taken advantage of the grounding period and used it to carry out maintenance services to ensure the entire fleet is operating at its optimal and will be uninterrupted by maintenance requirements as services return. The cabin refurbishment project is our most extensive collaboration with Etihad Airways to date, as we have been working on the entire passenger fleet of 96 aircraft within a concise time frame.”
Mr. Dupont added:“We will continue to go above and beyond to support all our customers during this challenging time, and continue to deliver a differentiated customer experience for our airline clients. We understand that it may not be possible for some of our customers to be physically present with us as engineering work on their aircraft progresses, however we have embraced the technology available to communicate seamlessly with our clients based all over the world. Continuous footage of the maintenance progress is captured by GoPro cameras and shared back with our clients, and virtual meetings provide the latest updates. This is to ensure that we cater to our customers’ needs in the exact same manner as if they were here with us at our facilities”.
Etihad Engineering has experienced an increase in parking requests from third-party customers, with the majority of parking slots currently occupied at its facilities. A number of airline operators have decided to park their aircraft in Abu Dhabi due to the long-standing partnerships they enjoy with the MRO provider as a one-stop maintenance shop, as well as the convenient geographic location of the emirate. All aircraft parked at the facility will undergo preservation maintenance while under the care of Etihad Engineering to ensure that they remain serviceable in accordance with the manufacturer’s guidance.
Every aircraft arriving at the facility for maintenance or parking undergoes a deep cleaning process by the disinfection team before any work commences. The team wear personal protective equipment and use a cleaning chemical well known for destroying viruses and bacteria, including COVID-19. It takes four hours to clean a narrow body aircraft and eight hours for larger aircraft.