Maintaining airworthiness with a strong aircraft maintenance program

By Viktoria Grokhovskaya. Implementing a strong aircraft maintenance program directly affects the lifecycle and availability of aviation components and fleets. Maintenance planning is crucial to ensuring the objectives and benefits of maintaining airworthiness are achieved. This includes an increase in equipment availability and lifetime as well as a reduction in maintenance costs and unexpected failure events.

Mar 28th, 2018
Maintaining airworthiness with a strong aircraft maintenance program
Maintaining airworthiness with a strong aircraft maintenance program

By Viktoria Grokhovskaya, VD Gulf

Implementing a strong aircraft maintenance program directly affects the lifecycle and availability of aviation components and fleets. Maintenance planning is crucial to ensuring the objectives and benefits of maintaining airworthiness are achieved. This includes an increase in equipment availability and lifetime as well as a reduction in maintenance costs and unexpected failure events.

With maintenance costing airlines around 10 percent in overall operating costs, it’s important the maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) industry complements an airline’s operational strategy with an optimized aircraft maintenance program. A modern and cost-effective approach minimizes escalating maintenance costs and operational disruptions.

A holistic maintenance approach also minimizes the inevitable maintenance downtime during an aircraft’s service life. Developing a maintenance program that is responsive to the needs of an airline operator requires the custom statistical analysis of maintenance data and detailed engineering assessments.

This article provides an overview of processes required to create a strong aircraft maintenance program, ensuring optimized airworthiness for airline operators.

Employ a qualified and reliable MRO
A question posed by many operators when examining maintenance investment priorities is: “Is it worth employing an independent MRO enterprise?” With the exception of legacy airline operators like British Airways who host their own commercial aircraft MRO services, an independent MRO team is crucial to effectively maintaining airworthiness.

In fact, the leading Gulf aircraft maintenance company in the UAE warns against the pitfalls airlines face in their rush to cut maintenance costs.

Employing an independent MRO company ensures better collaboration between the aircraft lessee and lessor, serving in a mediator role to ensure all parties’ changing requirements are accommodated when necessary. Independent MROs ensure aircrafts are maintained within predetermined airworthiness conditions with no preferential treatments to any party.

With the recent economic challenges facing the aviation industry and growing passenger demand, employing an independent MRO ensures maintenance costs are controlled and operations optimized, enabling operators to lower fleet inventory costs and improve maintenance downtimes.

Observe total cost of maintenance
Acknowledging the significant cost of maintenance within an airline operation helps airlines continuously provide safe, reliable, and cost-effective operations. Knowing and understanding the total cost of maintenance allows for an airline to optimize maintenance intervals. This ensures airplane out-of-service times are minimized and scheduled maintenance requirements are fulfilled.

One of the key ways to observe the total cost of maintenance is to deploy a statistical model checking tool. A statistical analysis tool increases knowledge of airplane performance data to improve maintenance processes. The maintenance analysis provided by a statistical model checking tool ensures and improves aircraft system dependability.

The ability to perform timely inspections, repairs, and maintenance significantly improves an aircraft’s lifespan and reliability. Such data analytics provide improvements against the downsides of maintenance, particularly in terms of costs and planned downtime. Such analytic information ensures MROs are able to make the necessary arrangements with third party suppliers to ensure spares are allocated to optimize maintenance activity.

Thorough detailed planning provides support to the supply chain, capitalizing on pitfalls that often plague the aviation supply chain.

Results management
An integral part of any strong aircraft maintenance program is the implementation of results management.

Being able to categorize and differentiate between the actual performance of maintenance compared to planned ones is crucial in controlling strategic and operational results. Being able to measure results of asset expenditure and revenue earned enhances the measurement of performance within a maintenance program.

Determining actual MRO costs provides a mechanism to maintain a highly optimized, cost-effective maintenance program. The analysis gained reduces the ground time for scheduled maintenance, labor, and material costs, and increases fleet availability, particularly when typical airline operations cost distribution is considered.

This analysis establishes maintenance capabilities and constraints within the airline and MRO industry, respectively. Such analysis provides new avenues for additional revenue operating days. This, then, generates profitable financial results whilst increasing cost reduction opportunities.

Aviation is in a constant state of flux. The expansion of global markets, shortage of aircraft maintenance personnel, and rapid technological advancements mean airline operators must continue to lower operating and maintenance costs while keeping fleets in circulation longer.

Streamlined operations through a strong maintenance program ensure effective resource management and maintain a high degree of airworthiness. The ability to maintain airworthiness through maintenance optimization can result in less downtime and fewer in-service issues, thereby resulting in maximum fleet availability for generating generate revenue.

About the author
Viktoria Grokhovskaya is an independent aviation expert currently working within the aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) industry in the UAE. She received her bachelor’s degree in Management and a Specialist Diploma in Economics and Management at the Enterprise from Astrakhan State Technical University.

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