ATR is establishing a global network of ATR-recognized maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) companies, and the first to join will be one from the Asia-Pacific region.

The decision will be made by year-end, says ATR Eastern Support President Laurent Negre. Currently, there are eight companies in Asia-Pacific providing heavy maintenance checks on ATR airframes—Air New Zealand Engineering Services, Air Works (India), Air Tahiti, Bangkok Airways, Fokker Services Asia (Singapore), Malaysia Airlines Engineering & Maintenance, Vietnam Airlines and TransAsia Airways (Taiwan).

MROs will be free to continue to perform heavy checks on ATR aircraft without being a member of the ATR-recognized network, says Negre, adding that “we don’t want to interfere with the market.” The purpose of having recognized ATR facilities is to assist smaller ATR operators who may lack the resources to do their own evaluation of MROs in the region, he says.

To qualify for the network, the MRO has to go through a full ATR quality assessment and audit, says Negre, adding that the ATR MRO network is modeled after a similar initiative operated by Airbus. ATR is a separate and independent company from Airbus, with a different ownership structure, but because EADS owns 50% of ATR, it is sometimes influenced by its larger neighbor.

Negre says he anticipates ATR will recognize two or three MRO firms in Asia-Pacific. “We need to be able to manage and audit the MRO firms in the network, so we probably can’t have” too many on a worldwide basis, says Negre. He says after Asia-Pacific, the network will be rolled out in Africa and Latin America, followed by Europe and North America. ATR already has a similar network in place covering component repair and overhaul shops with seven companies in Asia-Pacific covering a range of equipment. It is working to add more, in an effort to cover all the components.

Simulated Training

Another aspect of customer support is pilot training. Asia-Pacific will receive its first ATR 42/72-600 simulator next year, says Negre, adding that it will be decided before year-end where that simulator will be located.

Air Tahiti, Avation/Skywest Airlines (for Virgin Australia) and Uni Air are the companies in Asia-Pacific that have ordered the -600. In terms of existing simulators in the region, there is an ATR 42/72-500 simulator at Malaysia Airlines in Kuala Lumpur, one at Air New Zealand in Auckland, one at Lion Air in Jakarta and two at the Asian ATR Training Center in Bangkok. Laurent says ATR is opening an ATR 42/72-500 flight simulator center in Bangalore, India, next year.

Some aircraft makers, such as Embraer, occasionally provide pilots on a short-term basis to help airline customers who may be new to Embraer. Negre says providing pilots is out of ATR’s area of expertise, so it tends to direct airlines to pilot recruitment firms and other specialists in this field. But he says ATR occasionally provides airlines with line-training captains, so the carrier can develop a pool of pilots. ATR also helps new ATR operators station an ATR maintenance engineer in-country and have that person work exclusively with that airline. Negre qualifies that by saying, “Generally that is the case, but it depends on the airline’s requirements.” Having an ATR maintenance engineer on site helps ensure that once the airline’s maintenance personnel complete their theoretical training, there is someone there from ATR, he adds.

Laurent also says that in the case of Singapore-based leading ATR operator Avation/Skywest, the airframer has three on-site maintenance engineers. ATR said Avation/Skywest is the first to have the ATR 72-500 on the Australian registry and wants to ensure everything goes smoothly with Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority.