Transportation Updates

Wheel Refresh: Copa Airlines To Retrofit Its Boeing 737 NG Fleet

Copa Airlines and Collins Aerospace have today annouced an agreement to retrofit its Boeing 737NG aircraft fleet with new wheels and carbon brakes. This new deal is the largest wheel and brake upgrade for a Latin American airline to date. Let’s investigate further.

Copa Airlines will retrofit its B737-800 fleet with new brakes and wheels. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

Why updating the brakes?

Today, Collins Aerospace announced Copa Airlines, the second-largest 737 aircraft operator in Latin America (after GOL Linhas Aereas), had selected them to retrofit its 737 NG aircraft fleet. Collins Aerospace will install new wheels and carbon brakes.

Cory May, general manager, Aftermarket Landing Systems for Collins Aerospace, said,

“To proactively prepare for the airline industry’s recovery, Copa opted to upgrade its 737NG fleet to the Collins wheel and brake due to its superior brake life and overall lower cost of ownership.”

So, what’s so special about these new brakes?

According to Collins Aerospace, the new brakes feature a carbon friction material. This composition allows an average 35% longer brake life, decreases maintenance time, and increases cost savings. The new brakes also have an oxidation protection system.

Over 3,000 Boeing 737NG and 737 MAX aircraft worldwide have these brakes, according to Collins Aerospace.

Rafael Samudio, the vice-president, Technical Operations for Copa Airlines, said,

“As one of the largest airlines in Latin America operating many long-haul flights on our Boeing 737-800, we need wheels and brakes that are dependable.”

Copa Airlines Boeing B737-8V3 COPA Airlines HP-1840CMP MMMX Apr 26 2021 AF 01-
Copa Airlines has a fleet of 81 Boeing 737 aircraft. Photo: Guillermo Quiroz Martínez via @gquimar.

Copa’s current 737NG fleet

Copa Airlines currently flies only with Boeing 737 aircraft. It previously had some Embraer E190 planes but has sold them to the Australian carrier Alliance Airlines. Along with GOL, Copa is one of the two only-Boeing operators in Latin America.

As of June 30, 2021, GOL had a fleet of 81 aircraft, the airline said in its financial statements. It is composed of 68 Boeing 737-800s and 13 Boeing 737 MAX 9s. It also has six B737-700 that was supposed to sell but then decided to keep.

The average age of Copa’s fleet is 7.6 years old, according to ch-aviation.

Copa Airlines still has to receive 41 new planes in the coming years. Photo: Getty Images.

Copa Airlines’ fleet future

Copa Airlines still has to receive 41 new planes, according to ch-aviation. The Panamanian airline will acquire 12 Boeing 737 MAX 8, 14 B737 MAX 9 and 15 B737 MAX 10 in the coming years.

The airline plans to have an active fleet of up to 89 aircraft by the end of this year. In December 2019, pre-pandemic, Copa had 96 operational units. Meanwhile, Copa expects to receive five new Boeing 737 MAX 9s in 2022, according to the airline’s CEO, Pedro Heilbron.

Other retrofit projects in the region

While we are talking about retrofit agreements in Latin America, we should mention Avianca’s selection of Airbus Services for its cabin reconfiguration.

On August 4, Avianca announced it had selected Airbus Services for a complete reconfiguration of their existing A320 family fleet. The Colombian airline selected Airbus’ SpaceFlex next generation.

SpaceFlex is a mature lavatory and galley AFT complex which enables airlines to optimize the available space in the rear of the cabin. It also allows to increase seat capacity and improve seat pitch throughout the cabin, said Airbus in a statement.

What do you think of this latest development? Let us know in the comments below.