Bombardier has opened three additional maintenance lines for the Dash 8 Q400 at its Tucson, Arizona, service centre, citing increased work associated with long-term heavy maintenance contracts reached during the past year.

The airframe manufacturer increased the maintenance capacity for the Q400 and next-generation Q400s within the facility's existing 1.15 million ft2 (106,466m2) footprint.

Heavy maintenance checks have primarily driven the expansion, says Bombardier, which has maintenance agreements with eight operators for services ranging from line maintenance to the heaviest checks. Among the largest contracts it has for Q400 maintenance is with Republic Airlines, which signed an exclusive nine-year heavy maintenance agreement in May 2012 for 32 Q400 aircraft.

Bombardier says airlines are drawn to the value-added capabilities that OEMs provide, such as data analysis and component programmes. However, it could be competing with more third-party maintenance operators in the near future that plan to add the capability at their own facilities.

Among them is Quebec-based Premier Aviation. The firm's president and chief executive Ronnie DiBartolo told Flightglobal in March that it is in negotiations with clients for Q400 maintenance and could offer the capability as soon as this year. Discovery Air Technical Services, located in nearby Quebec City, has also shown interest in adding Q400 capabilities in the future after first focusing on approvals for Embraer E-Jets.

Bombardier offers additional Q400 maintenance in Bridgeport, West Virginia, and Macon, Georgia. It has a total of eight service centres in the USA, one in Amsterdam, and plans to open a tenth in Singapore later this year.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news