Among three cities where maintenance check is done

The Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) facility of Air India Charters Limited (AICL), a fully owned subsidiary of the national carrier Air India, near Thiruvananthapuram international airport has been given permission to carry out the crucial ‘C’ checks of Boeing 737-800.

With this, Air India Express, the low cost carrier of the AI, can carry out the ‘C’ checks of the Boeing 737-800 aircraft at the MRO here instead of in Mumbai. Thus, the low-budget airline of the cash-strapped AI will be able to save Rs.2.5 lakh an hour.

In ‘C’ checks carried out after every 3,000 flights or in 15 months, engineers will repair components, test major internal mechanism and calibrate flight control. Minor structural inspections, compressor, flight control, rigging tests and post-check flights will be taken up.

Now, Thiruvananthapuram will be one of the three cities in the country where ‘C’ checks can be performed. The approval of the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) will be handed over to AIE authorities by Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation K.C. Venugopal on the MRO premises on Wednesday.

The approval came after the mandatory audit carried out by the DGCA following an internal audit by AICL in November last. The MRO that was handling two aircraft at a time and phase-checks of three aircraft a week had commenced the ‘C’ checks, official sources told The Hindu.

The Rs.110-crore MRO, set up on 6.07 hectares provided free of cost by the State government, was commissioned on December 16, 2011. The facility also has state-of-the-art back shop support for carrying out other functions. Initially, the MRO will take care of engineering requirements of the aircraft in the fleet of Air India Express and later Airbus A-320.

Electrically operated and vertically moving hangar door system, 5,000 sq.ft. of workshop, warehouse and office space and a 10, apron are the salient features of the MRO.

Since it has got permission for ‘C’ checks, the MRO will now apply for the European Aviation Safety Agency’s approval. With competition hotting up the MRO will have to take up third party business in the medium to long term to survive.

The foremost among the challenges being faced by the MRO is the issue of high taxation of imported spares, consumables, and components, sources said. The MRO employees around 75 people now and will have around 135 people on its rolls by the end of the year.