PNG’s National Airline Carrier, Air Niugini has expanded its in-house heavy maintenance checks this year to include Pacific island airlines starting with a Dash8 aircraft from Solomon Airlines.
The aircraft was welcomed into ANG hangars in July this year, where C-checks were performed within a month and released yesterday.
Initially Solomon Air usually does it’s C-checks in Cairns, Australia, but has cut the journey short as Air Niugini has been doing C-checks to its own Dash 8 and Fokker Aircrafts for the last year.
Carried out every two years: C-checks which are an extensive check of individual systems and components for serviceability and function. It requires a thorough visual inspection of specified areas, components and systems as well as operational or functional checks. It is a high-level check that involves extensive tooling, test equipment, and special skill levels.
About thirty plus engineers have worked tireless shifts to ensure Solomon Airline’s Dash 8 aircraft was delivered on time.
“I would like everyone to understand the size and the magnitude of what the engineering organization has pulled off here”, said Alan Milne, Air Niugini’s Managing Director.
“The last couple of years have been tough on the engineering world. All Fokker checks were done in-house to save money and our engineers have done a fantastic job.
“To be able to open up some space to bring in our first customer aircraft has been a fantastic outcome.”
“To have everything done by the rules and instructions and maintenance manuals all within the time frame, delivered to the Solomons is an outstanding job.”
The successful completion of the procedure carried out on Solomon Airlines, Dash8 aircraft, have not gone unnoticed, Air Niugini has been approached by other Airlines in the region regarding this service.
With the introduction of Air Niugini’s Maintenance Repair Overhaul facility based at Jackson’s Airport, the national airline carrier plans to become a key player in global airline servicing in a move that will bring in foreign currency to PNG’s economy.
Milne, says this is good recognition for the company and Papua New Guinea and says this successive milestone will ensure better returns for the company and the country.
According to Milne, there’s a real opportunity for Air Niugini to service Fokker jets at Jackson’s Airport because the largest Fokker fleet live within the Pacific region including Australia and Indonesia
Moving forward, Air Niugini plans to start doing C-Checks on its other fleet as well, such as the Boeing, and in the not so distant future, on other models as well, such as the Embraer.
“Regardless of the aircraft type that we select for the replacement fleet for Air Niugini, our engineers will be trained and will work on those planes themselves,” said Milne.
Over the years, Air Niugini had been training its own Aircraft Mechanical Engineering team through the AME Cadet training scheme. However, that cadet scheme has been halted for some time.
“If we going to bring in more customer aircrafts, we’re going to need a lot more man power so we’ll have to revive that cadet scheme much sooner rather than later,” said Milne.
Milne also stated that Embraer manufacturers are also looking for a facility in the region that can service their jets and Air Niugini would love to have those capabilities in the near future.
The in-house engineering of Air Niugini’s Dash 8 and Fokker aircrafts have saved PNG’s National Airline company around 1.5 Million Kina each year.
By Helen Sea – EMTV News, Port Moresby