Canadian maintenance provider ExelTech has secured a key airline for its E-Jet heavy maintenance programme after brokering a deal with E-190 launch customer JetBlue Airways.

ExelTech's announcement follows concern expressed by JetBlue CEO Dave Barger in a recent interview with ATI over the lack of E-190 heavy maintenance suppliers in North America. As the average age of the carrier's E-190 approaches two years, JetBlue is preparing its heavy maintenance programme for the aircraft. The carrier took delivery of its first E-190 in 2005.

Flight's ACAS shows JetBlue currently operates 37 E-190s. But ExelTech's announcement of the new business did not outline the specific number of aircraft covered by the heavy maintenance and modification programme.

One of JetBlue's heavy maintenance suppliers of A320 maintenance Israel Aircraft Industries subsidiary Empire Aero Center in late 2008 won board approval to acquire the tooling for E-Jet heavy maintenance, and at that time told ATI it had held some discussions with the carrier regarding the E-190s.

JetBlue is ExelTech's second E-Jet heavy maintenance customer after US regional operator Republic Airways Holdings in September awarded ExelTech a contract covering 15 E-170 family aircraft. At that time ExelTech said completion of the heavy checks on the Republic jets should take roughly two weeks.

In August 2008 ExelTech inaugurated a new C$19 million facility at Montreal's Trudeau airport capable of handling work on up to 10 regional jets.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news