As the Portuguese flag carrier, TAP Air Portugal is a familiar name for readers of Simple Flying. While the airline has a strong presence across commercial passenger operations, it is also a powerhouse when it comes to the behind the scenes maintenance and engineering. Simple Flying had the opportunity to have a look at the firm’s facilities in Lisbon to find out more about its activity in this field.
TAP Maintenance and Engineering (TAP M&E) highlights that its vast experience conducting maintenance and engineering support to its own fleet contributed to the airline’s reputation as one of the most reliable operators across the globe. For over three decades, the company’s third-party customers have also enjoyed the offering of this service. Notably, in 2007, the company received an award from NATO for the Best Engine/Aircraft Source of Repair amid the NATO AWACS Maintenance Program.
Altogether, the TAP Maintenance and Engineering Engine Shop has operated for over half a century and remains a crucial site for the repair of CFM56 family engines. The overall experience is built on the repair, overhaul, and service of these types.
Covering all angles
TAP M&E offers a robust range of provisions, with a whopping 23,500 components repaired each year across three hangars. Services for the Airbus A330, A340, and A320 family and for CFM56-3, -5A, -5B, -5C, -7B, LEAP 1 A, and CF6-80C2/E1 engine models include:
- Light and heavy maintenance checks
- Engine overhaul
- Components maintenance
- Continuing airworthiness management
- Material support and integrated packages
Plenty to see
I was joined by a small group of other journalists on a tour hosted by TAP chief technical officer Mário Lobato de Faria. He guided us through the 71,200-square-meter campus that is split between Hangars 4, 5, and 6, along with engine, accessories, and avionics shops, laboratories, and warehouses.
There was a charmingly vintage feel about the whole facility. While there were several TAP aircraft to be spotted on the ground, the airline’s own fleet only makes up 30% of the engine activity. Other customers make up the bulk of the engine shop work.
Employees are constantly testing, troubleshooting, and performing redelivery checks on various CFMI models here. Workers also perform a host of support, repair, and overhaul services across the board on numerous other engines.
For the A330, A340, and A320 series, full in-house work includes:
- A checks
- C checks
- A320 family Sharklet retrofit
- Engineering support
- Intermediate layovers
- Structural checks
- Cabin modification and refurbishment
- Stripping and Painting
- Thrust reverser complete overhaul
We had the chance to hop on board a few aircraft, including a passenger A330neo, which was on the ground for testing. We even got to see where the crew sleeps on long-haul adventures!
Interestingly, the airline will have a smaller fleet amid a cap of 99 planes until it completes its European Commission restructuring plan that was approved in 2021. As TAP chief executive officer Christine Ourmières-Widener explained:
“We are respecting the cap. We have six aircraft less than in 2019, but we fly the same capacity,”
The right support
From avionics and hydraulics to fuel and mechanics, TAP’s Lisbon facility covers fantastic ground. At the turn of the year, it was announced that TAP would close its maintenance center in Brazil. Thus, we can expect even more focus on the Lisbon site in the current chapter.
Everything looked like it ran like clockwork. Yet, there was a calm atmosphere despite the ongoing processes, especially when it came to engine testing.
It was fascinating to see all the resources and activity up close and personal. It’s clear that TAP relishes its position of providing support to the overall aviation industry in addition to its role as Portugal’s flag carrier.
What are your thoughts about TAP Air Portugal’s maintenance and engineering facility? What do you make of the operation? Let us know what you think in the comment section.
TAP Air Portugal
- IATA/ICAO Code:
- Airline Type:
- Full Service Carrier
- Lisbon Airport
- Year Founded:
- Star Alliance
- Christine Ourmières-Widener