Austrian Airlines acquired six additional A320 aircraft in 2019. The first of these jets was delivered in August 2019 and received its red-white-red colouring. But how does such a process actually take place? What is necessary for the phase-in and which important checks need to be done by our Austrian Technik team? In this article you will learn everything about a typical phase-in.
One galley is not the same as the next one
#STAGE 1: SELECTION PROCESS
In autumn 2018, our colleagues at Austrian Technik already had to roll up their sleeves for our phase-in project. This is because our Austrian Technik team, working in close collaboration with Flight Operations, Network and the Product Department, defines which specifications aircraft generally have to have to fit into our fleet long before a lease or purchase agreement is concluded. This process happens for the most part parallel to the required board decisions. When Asset Management finds what it is searching for, the specifications of all potential "candidates" have to be aligned to the demands imposed by the Austrian Technik team.
One of the special features of the aircraft to be phased in is that two of the four Avianca jets are equipped with sharklets. This technology results in jet fuel savings of about three percent per flight. Moreover, this generation of aircraft engines is also newer and more efficient.
Costs, administrative and planning issues
#STAGE 2: DETAILED ANALYSES
If the specifications match, the team of technicians carries out detailed analyses in order to specify necessary modifications and evaluate the costs of the leasing cycle. These analyses encompass a precise check of the maintenance status including engine and landing gear data as well as the status of modifications, amongst other things.
Better to switch on and test than to browse online
#STAGE 3: PRELIMINARY CHECKS
After signing the so-called "letter of intent", in which we state our fundamental interest in acquiring an aircraft, we have the possibility to physically inspect the planes for the first time within the context of a "preliminary check" in most cases. It is important to ensure that the results of the inspection are precisely recorded and to test the aircraft and the systems, if at all possible, instead of only relying on the existing documents. A team of specialists in the areas of Avionic Systems, Cabin Engineering, Flight Operations, Maintenance and Transition Management travelled to Goodyear to check the former Avianca aircraft and to Shanghai for the two Juneyao A320 jets.
Often in the course of the inspections the teams discover tiny details which actually deviate from the information received in advance. These also have to be well documented because the possibility cannot be excluded that they may have an influence on further activities.
We are only satisfied when everything expires without complications
#STAGE 4: THE CRITICAL PHASE
The approval granted by Austrian Technik marks the beginning of the critical phase for our Asset Management. Now the final contracts have to be negotiated. This involves specific parts of the contract relating to delivery conditions, the handover procedure, requirements for aircraft maintenance and return conditions as well as commercial and legal aspects. We will lease the four aircraft previously operated by Avianca for a period of eight years from the Aviation Capital Group serving as the lessor. The two former Juneyao jets will be purchased by Lufthansa and will be leased by us internally. After the lease or purchase agreement is finalized, including the agreed upon delivery conditions, the next milestone is the handover check. In the case of the former Avianca planes, the lessor originally planned to have maintenance and paintwork on the aircraft carried out by Flight Star in Jacksonville.
Accuracy and safety are our top priorities
#STAGE 5: TAKEOVER
In addition to cabin modifications, a bridging to the OS maintenance program is carried out as well as a C check and painting before the aircraft is handed over to Austrian Airlines. With regard to this project, this all happens in cooperation with an external partner, always with the support of our Austrian Technik colleagues. In this phase, the costs for fulfilling the specified delivery conditions are assumed by the lessor. At the end of every delivery check, an acceptance flight is carried out together with the lessor. The Technical Pilot of the Airbus fleet, was present on board the flights in the case of the first two Airbus jets. After any potential findings of these test flights are corrected, the next step is the actual handover of the aircraft to Austrian Airlines, which in this case is done by the lessor.
Before ownership is officially taken over by Austrian Airlines, a borescope inspection on both engines and the APU is carried out. During this check we discovered that the APU was damaged and the defect had to be immediately repaired. All the costs incurred have to be carried by the lessor due to the fact that it was detected by us before the final handover. Of course, the phase-in requires a large number of approvals from the responsible regulatory authorities, which have to be partly obtained by the lessor and partly by Austrian Airlines. A detailed maintenance program is prepared by Austrian Technik and must also be officially approved. Only then will the aircraft be finally taken over and into our fleet. #Welcome to the team!
The first flight of our OE-LZD took place in November 2019. Gradually the new fleet will be deployed and will bring you safely from city to city in the future. You want to fly or you want to conquer the world with our new fleet? No problem, book your next flight with Austrian Airlines right here:
© Image rights: Hannes Winter