Uruguayan carrier Pluna has unveiled plans to add heavy maintenance capabilities for Bombardier CRJ aircraft.

Pluna in a statement today says later this year it will become the first company in South American to perform a heavy check on a CRJ. Pluna will initially perform c-checks on its own fleet of CRJ900s but says it also plans to pursue third-party work from other CRJ operators in Latin America.

Pluna currently has a fleet of seven CRJ900s, including one aircraft which is leased to Argentinean sister carrier AeroVIP. It has three more CRJ900s on order, all of which are slated for delivery later this year.

Pluna says its first CRJ900, which was delivered in March 2008, will come up for c-check in September. It is planning to conduct this c-check at its Montevideo hub using 20 of its own mechanics with supervision from Bombardier.

Pluna says it plans to complete five c-checks between September and November, with each check taking 12 working days. The carrier says the other two CRJ900s in its fleet will come up for c-check from March 2011.

Pluna vice president operations Martin Harrison says the company looked at outsourcing heavy maintenance for its CRJ900 fleet but decided to instead invest in enhancing its maintenance capability and establish a regional maintenance centre for the CRJ in Montevideo.

Pluna maintenance manager Oscar Prieto adds that the carrier hopes to not only work on Pluna's CRJs but CRJs from other operators in the region.

Pluna's maintenance operation is currently certified by Uruguayan as well as Argentinean authorities. In Argentina, AeroVIP and Andes currently operate the CRJ900.

While Pluna currently only operates CRJ900s it has been looking at potentially acquiring smaller CRJ200s and will be capable of performing heavy maintenance on all types of CRJs.

Pluna, which is partly owned by Canada's Jazz, operated Boeing 737s, 757s and 767s before transitioning to CRJ900s in 2008 as part of a new strategy which focused on developing a regional network.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news