Andrea Puglisi, CEO of Leonardo Do Brasil LTDA, talks about the news Centre of Itapevi, its activities and the future projects in the pipeline in the future.
The new Service and Logistics Centre of Itapevi started its activities in July 2021: can you tell us about this first period of operation?
Since the beginning, it has been an amazing journey. For over 20 years, we used to operate in a smaller facility with several limitations to our activities; the move from the old facility to the new one has made our people enthusiastic and excited about the change. We were able to start maintenance activity immediately and seamlessly at an increased pace, with no real interruption as a result of the successful transfer of people, tools, and resources. In the first period of operation, we increased the number of customers for maintenance services by more than 50%. During the first 30 days of operations, we managed to reassemble and deliver five brand new helicopters to Brazilian customers: one AW169, one GrandNew, one Trekker and two Koalas! Incredible achievements that were accomplished thanks to the capabilities of the new infrastructure.
How many helicopters have you hosted so far and what kind of services have you provided?
The new site can host up to 20 helicopters for support services. Since its opening, we have been able to provide maintenance services for more than 70 helicopters across the product range: from supporting deliveries to customers, to reassembly, to pre-buy inspections for pre-owned helicopters, to the complete life cycle of the equipment, including in-service modifications. In the new facility, we have carried out a broad set of activities such as full maintenance capabilities that are on ourproducts: from the simplest GVIs and servicing tasks to the most complex and comprehensive inspections such as 3,200 flight hours on the AW109 and the AW119 series helicopters and four-year inspections on AWFamily models. Moreover, thanks to the new Completion Centre we’ve integrated the capabilities of a painting and interior completion: we recently accomplished the installation of an EMS (Emergency Medical Services) interiors on an AW119 for a Law Enforcement agency, before its final delivery.
In recent years, the helicopter fleet in the region has grown. This has been helped by the introduction of new models, for VIP, security, public service and offshore transport missions. How do you meet the demanding needs of the operators?
Availability is key for a helicopter’s operation; it does not matter if the aircraft is required for a third party’s operations, to serve and protect the public, or to transport the owner - it has to be available when needed. In this regard, the timely execution of the maintenance programme is of paramount importance, in addition to the availability of spare parts and first responders to solve aircraft on ground (AOG) situations due to unscheduled events. We work around the clock with our colleagues in Italy and in the USA to keep the helicopters fleet in Brazil flying.
Since the opening of the Centre, has the perception of the level of service quality by helicopter operators in the region changed?
Of course, this is perhaps the most important aspect, as it ultimately involves the Safety of Operations; Leonardo has been providing helicopter maintenance services to its Customers in Brazil for two decades, and lately to enhance its services as an OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) and to meet the demanding expectation of the VIP market segment, we have decided to invest in a new, modern, and functional facility, in order to provide even higher standards of services. The opening of the new Centre has become a landmark, the start of a journey where customers expectations can be exceeded and the OEM has all the resources and infrastructure in country to provide service excellence with unmatched quality and safety.
Do you have in plan to further expand the Centre capabilities in the future?
Yes, we do. The service capacity of the Centre can be expanded by up to 50% compared to the previous dedicated site. The facility has been built on a wide area that can accommodate further expansion, either more space for maintenance services of airframes and components, or possibly, a training Centre with a modern simulation device. We also have in plan to restyle our VIP lounge for pilots with the Agusta brand.