Azul Opens New MRO Center in Sao Paulo

Azul MRO Center at Viracopos International Airport
Credit: Ghafari Associates

Brazilian airline Azul has opened a new MRO Center at Viracopos International Airport in Sao Paulo, which it says it the largest MRO complex to be constructed in Brazil in the last 40 years. The approximately $35 million investment is aimed at improving maintenance efficiencies and better supporting Azul’s fleet.

The 377,000 ft.2 MRO Center, designed by Ghafari Associates, began construction in 2018 and was completed earlier this year, despite some delays related to COVID-19. In addition to a hangar that can accommodate one widebody the size of an Airbus A350 alongside two to three narrowbodies or three to four ATRs or Embraer E-Jets, the complex features support spaces for technical shops, logistics management, administrative areas, a technical training center and management and engineering offices.

According to a representative for Ghafari Associates, Azul’s previous facilities at the airport were outdated and did not have the proper equipment or installations, so “maintenance services had to be adjusted to meet the conditions and therefore were not always safe or practical,” with some services needing to be performed in different cities. The new facility features updated building codes and fire protection, modern installations and the tools needed to perform advanced maintenance services, so Ghafari Associates says it has shortened the time it takes Azul’s maintenance staff to complete tasks.

Azul MRO Center at Viracopos International Airport
Ghafari Associates

Additionally, the facility’s layout and flow was improved to promote efficiency, including daylighting and green systems implemented to minimize utility costs. A window strip lining the entire exterior provides permanent natural light, and in the hangar area it turns into a translucent louver to provide ventilation.

In 2018 Azul told Aviation Week that it expected the new hangar to help it provide better support for unplanned and major maintenance events such as engine changes, aircraft inspections on jacks, structural repairs and large modifications. According to a representative for the airline, it expects to add other shops to the hangar in the future including batteries, emergency equipment, engines, landing gear pre-installation, and machining and heat treatment.

Azul says the hangar has been certified to perform Airbus A320neo checks and it is preparing certification for the A330neo at the end of 2020. It intends to have approximately 75 technicians for each line in the hangar along with 20-25 staff distributed in its tooling, material, engineering, planning and quality areas to support the lines.

The airline’s fleet has been in flux this year, partially due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In January it accelerated its fleet transition plans, speeding up its timeline for Embraer E195-E2 deliveries while pushing back expected A320neo deliveries by one year. As part of cost-cutting measures in May, it announced plans to defer 59 E2s originally scheduled for delivery between 2020-23.

Lindsay Bjerregaard

Lindsay Bjerregaard is managing editor for Aviation Week’s MRO portfolio. Her coverage focuses on MRO technology, workforce, and product and service news for, Aviation Week Marketplace and Inside MRO.