1.0 Introduction.

The aircraft maintenance scheduling process is very detailed and encompasses the inputs of various departments of an airline. The maintenance programme needs to be efficient and cost effective. To establish a good maintenance programme there needs to be a liaison with the marketing, flight operations, engineering and finance departments so that the regulatory requirements of the airworthiness of the aircraft can be maintained.

The objective of this paper is to produce a cost effective and efficient maintenance programme for KalAir. This will be based on one aircraft type operating on the domestic route and another aircraft type operating on the regional/international routes. The study will cover

  1. A 10 year maintenance plan.
  2. A suitable type of maintenance programme.
  3. In-house or outsourcing decisions.
  4. Type of skills required and the number of staff

The aircraft chosen to operate the domestic route will be the ATR 72-500. The aircraft has the capability to use a propeller brake hence there is no need for an Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) when the aircraft is on ground. This will save weight on the aircraft and there will be less component maintenance costs and less spares will be required. The ATR 72 powered by the PW127F engines provides outstanding short field performance even on difficult hot and high airfields and this will be very useful for KalAir as most of its domestic destinations have short fields which are both hot and high.

The A318 aircraft is chosen for the regional/international routes because fewer aircraft is required in the first 5 years compared to the E190 and this would save KalAir some money with its upfront capital outlay. Also similar type of aircraft in the A320 family is used in the region, hence more maintenance options and expertise will be available and higher spares availability can be achieved through spares pooling.

2.0 Purpose of Maintenance

Maintenance is defined as ‘the action necessary to sustain or restore the integrity and performance of the airplane' (Hessburg 2001). This will be achieved by carrying out the necessary inspections, repair, overhaul and the replacement of parts. Maintenance processes can be divided into three different categories namely hard time, on condition and condition monitoring. The hard time process requires the item to be removed and overhauled or discarded before exceeding a set time interval. This time interval can be based on calendar time, flight hours, flight cycles or at check intervals. The on condition process is where the item will be checked and tested periodically to see whether it meets the test standards and deterioration limits before deciding to replace the item. The condition monitoring process can either be a failure based or a predictive maintenance process if there is a trend analysis of the failure rates recorded. Generally condition monitoring components are usually operated until failure occurs and replaced as an unscheduled maintenance item until enough operator and industry experience is built.

Maintenance is carried out on aircraft to ensure the aircraft can operate safely at all times. Maintenance is in place to ensure there is aircraft availability at all times to keep the fleet in service. If an aircraft is taken out of service the whole flight schedule will be disrupted and passengers need to be put on alternate carriers or be provided with accommodation to cope with the delay. The airline has to maximise the value of the aircraft by keeping the airframe, engine and components in good working condition by carrying out effective maintenance.

Provision has to be made for chance failures like tyre bursts, hard landings and also for deterioration due to the environment and age which might cause corrosion problems, fatigue failure and wear and tear.

2.1 Types of maintenance checks

Pre-flight checks are usually done before the first flight of the day and transit checks are carried out when the aircraft is on ground at its destination before the next take-off. These are cursory inspections of the aircraft to look for obvious damage, fluid leaks, and loose panels and to also ensure that oil levels are correct.

The letter checks start of with the A check where it involves the opening of some access panels to conduct checks and servicing. Some special equipment will be required to carry out some of the checks like engine boroscope inspections.

The C check is a detailed inspection of individual systems and components for functionality and serviceability like flight controls and engine inspections. In this phase of check extensive inspections will be carried out to check for fatigue failure and corrosion. As this check requires a hangar visit for about five to fifteen days this opportunity will be used to clear deferred defects and carry out the embodiment of service bulletins and airworthiness directives.

The D check is an extensive structural check of the aircraft where both visual and non destructive test inspections are carried out to check for deformation, corrosion and cracking. As structural checks require a lot of disassembly to gain access for inspection it is very labour intensive and takes about twenty to thirty days on average. Table 1 is an example of the block maintenance and intervals for the different checks that will be used for the A318 aircraft in KalAir's fleet.

Type

Interval

Downtime

Main Purpose

Daily

36h

2 to 3h

General visual inspection (GVI)

A Check

600 FH

Overnight

Servicing, Engine boroscope, GVI

C Check

18 Mths

3 to 5 days

Operational Check

1C/3C

2 days

2C

3 days

4C Check

5/6 Yrs

14 to 21 days

Structural Inspection (Corrosion)

4C & 5Y HMV

21 days

5Y only

14 days

8C Check

10/12 Yrs

24 to 51 days

Structural Inspection (Corrosion+ fatigue)

Table 1: A318 Block Maintenance

Source: ATE Lecture notes 2008

Table 2 is an example of the block maintenance and intervals for the different checks that will be used for the ATR 72 aircraft in KalAir's fleet.

Type

Interval

Downtime

Main Purpose

Daily

24h

2 to 3h

Checks and zonal visual inspections

A Check

500 FH

Overnight

Zonal visual inspections, lubrication, servicing and operational checks

C Check

4000 FH

3 to 5 days

Operational and functional checks on aircraft and powerplant systems

Propeller Inspection

8000 FH

3 to 5 days

(part of C check)

Based on, on wing engine monitoring

Structural Inspections & 4C Check

*2/4/8 Yrs

13 to 27 days

Structural Inspection (Corrosion+ fatigue)

* based on estimated 5.5FH daily utilisation

Table 2: ATR 72 Block Maintenance

Source: Adapted from ATE Lecture notes 2008

2.2 Maintenance Systems

To carry out the maintenance on the KalAir fleet of aircraft there are two kinds of maintenance systems available. One is the pyramidal system where a set of jobs is planned for a particular interval and another set of jobs is added at the next multiple of this basic interval. The benefits of this system are that a fixed set of tasks are allocated and it can be completed within the time frame without much variation. However in this system the aircraft will be out of service for a long period of time and the workload for the maintenance staff will be subjected to cyclical variations leaving them idle at times till the next aircraft comes for maintenance. The other option available is a progressive or equalised maintenance system where large checks are broken down into smaller checks of equal size and carried out more frequently. The checks can be small enough to be carried out overnight and this will allow the workload for the maintenance personnel to be more constant. Therefore to meet KalAir's tight flight schedule and to maximise the workforce an equalised maintenance programme will be adopted.

3.0 In-house or outsourcing decisions

The decision to conduct the maintenance in-house or to outsource the maintenance for KalAir that operates a fleet of three A318 aircraft in the first five years and four A318 aircraft in the next five years together with four ATR 72 aircraft for the whole ten year period is not an easy one. KalAir has not previous experience of operating either of these aircraft types and neither have they operated aircraft that were produced by these aircraft manufacturers. Moreover it would not make economic sense to acquire all the necessary tooling and equipment to maintain three A318 aircraft for the first five years. The capital investment to carry out heavy maintenance cannot be justified but, KalAir needs to ensure that it has adequate capability to handle line maintenance. As KalAir is operating in a region that is in close proximity to the Gulf and Indian sub-continent outsourcing the maintenance for the A318 aircraft would be the best solution. The heavy maintenance, engine overhaul and component repair can be out sourced to maintenance organisations in India as there are about five airlines operating a total of about hundred A320 family aircraft (ATI). An alternative option of sending the A318 aircraft for maintenance in the Gulf is also available but the maintenance costs might not be as competitive as in India and the number of spares available in the Gulf region might be lower considering that less A320 family aircraft operate in that region.

KalAir has some experience operating turboprop aircraft like the Antonov An 24 and Fokker F-27 and this experience can be credited towards carrying out maintenance on the ATR 72 aircraft. The systems architecture on turboprop aircraft that are western built and Russian built do not vary very much because of the use of more mechanical systems. Unlike western built modern jet aircraft which have a large amount of avionics introduced. Hence consideration can be made to carry out a larger portion of maintenance of the ATR 72 aircraft in-house. Also the hangar space required would not be very much and the equipment acquired to maintain the ATR 72 would not be a high investment compared to acquiring maintenance equipment for the A318 aircraft.

Also the availability of the ATR 72 aircraft is very important as the airfields in the domestic sector are not very well developed and do not have navigation aids. Hence having in-house maintenance capability is quite important. KalAir can establish an in-house maintenance program together with a packaged deal where provisions for engine off wing maintenance, component and line replaceable units can be outsourced to the maintenance organisation in exchange for replacement parts thereby ensuring that the ATR 72 aircraft can carry on with its normal flying schedule as soon as possible with minimal down time.

4.0 Maintenance & Engineering Organisation Structure

The maintenance and engineering organisation structure of KalAir will be established according to the following areas covering these job responsibilities. The assumption here is based on the previous operating experience of KalAir and that there is already some maintenance capability with adequate hangar space.

Technical Services

Engineering, publications, planning and training (for both A318 & ATR 72 fleet)

Aircraft Maintenance

  • Hangar
  • Line (for both A318 & ATR 72 fleet)
  • Maintenance Control Centre (for both A318 & ATR 72 fleet)

Shop Maintenance

Structures, mechanical and instrument (for ATR 72 fleet)

Material

  • Purchasing and receiving
  • Stores and inventory

Quality

  • Quality Assurance & Quality control
  • Safety & reliability

The organisation has to be structured this way so as to ensure that it has maximum capability of handling the ATR 72 maintenance and the ability to handle an adequate amount of maintenance on the A318 so that it would not jeopardise the flight schedule. To ensure this KalAir will need to hold a large inventory of spares. This list of spares to be held will be based on the Minimum Equipment List of both the A318 and ATR 72 aircraft and also ‘AOG' spares so that it would not render these aircraft on ground (AOG). Spare engines for both aircraft need to be kept by KalAir so that a Quick Engine Change (QEC) can be carried out and the aircraft replaced with a new engine. The engine that is removed can then be sent to the engine repair facility for repairs to be carried out.

The materials planning needs to be done well in advance and the availability of spares and tooling needs to be ensured before the aircraft goes into the hangar for maintenance.

4.1 Manpower management

As two aircraft types are operated by KalAir engineers will be type rated on both aircraft. Provisions will have to be made such that maintenance staff are trained to Part 66 standards with certification for Category A, B1, B2 and C for both the ATR 72 and A318 aircraft. KalAir needs to ensure that there is at least one staff with a Category C rating for the A318 and ATR 72 aircraft so that he can sign the certificate of release to service for these aircraft after the necessary maintenance. Though heavy maintenance of the A318 will not be carried out in-house the certification of staff at Category C level might be required for two purposes. One reason is if an AOG team is dispatched to recover an aircraft for a collapsed landing gear for example and the other is for ensuring the continuing airworthiness management of the aircraft during the airworthiness review.

The line maintenance team will comprise of two groups of staff on duty one the ATR 72 team and the other the A318 team during the day. Each team will have three to four staff and one of whom will act as the team leader. KalAir will operate a three shift pattern operating twenty four hours. Table 3 shows the shift pattern and the manpower allocation. There is an overlap in the shifts so as to allow a proper handing and taking over between each shift.

Shift

Time

A318 staff

ATR staff

Manpower

1

0630-1530

4

8

12

2

1500-2330

4

6

10

3

2300-0700

6

6

12

Table 3: Shift pattern and manpower

Though maintenance staff will be cross trained on both aircraft types to meet manpower requirements for unexpected incidents a clear distinction between the two teams will be maintained during the normal operations. A higher provision for ATR staff is made for shift 1 because of the increased activity of aircraft at 1000hras and 1400hrs. A consistent number of staff will be maintained for the night shift as the work packages will not vary considerably, if it does the staff strength can be increased or overtime can be introduced.

At the maintenance control centre two staff will be present during shift 1 and 2 as that is when all the flying activity takes place and the flight schedule needs to be maintained and the unexpected maintenance will be scheduled for the night shift. The line stations will be manned by Part 66 certified Category A staff to certify the aircraft after transit checks.

5.0 KalAir Maintenance Programme

The KalAir flight schedule for an A318 and ATR 72 aircraft combination for year 1 and year 5 onwards is attached in Appendix 1. Based on this flight schedule the flight hours and the flight cycles can be calculated for both the fleets and is shown in Table 4.

Year 1 to 4

Year 5 to 10

Aircraft

Daily FH

Daily Cycles

Daily FH

Daily Cycles

A318 1

15

3

15

3

A318 2

15

3

15

3

A318 3

11.5

2

11.5

2

[A318 4]

NA

NA

8

2

A318 Average

14

3

12.5

3

ATR7 1

14.3

4

14.3

4

ATR7 2

14

5

14

5

ATR7 3

9.5

3

9.5

3

ATR7 4

3

1

10

3

ATR7 Average

10.5

4

12

4

Table 4: Aircraft cycles and flight hours

The scheduling of the aircraft will be planned according to the average flight hours and cycles. Since the flight hours and cycles over time have been obtained, the calendar based and usage based inspections can be scheduled. The hard time maintenance intervals will be designed to be incorporated in the scheduled checks to allow for less down time. The aircraft that has the highest daily flight hours in each fleet will be the first in the sequence when the maintenance is planned. The maintenance schedule for the A318 aircraft will be based on the data available in Table 1 and the maintenance schedule for the ATR 72 will be based on the data in Table 2.

The calculations for the A318 aircraft give about 7 A checks in a year. This can be scheduled such that an A check together with a split C check is done at a one and a half month interval carried out throughout the night over six days. Hence the C checks will be similar to a single task oriented maintenance concept except that it would be carried out over a longer time period with less aircraft visits. The 4C check and the 8C check come together with structural checks and heavy maintenance. For year 5 when the new A318 aircraft arrives it can be used as a replacement aircraft over the period of time when the existing A318 aircraft go through their heavy maintenance. A request for an earlier delivery for the A318 aircraft can be made so that the heavy maintenance can be carried out earlier. This will cause a delay in implementing the new flight schedule but it will definitely save KalAir the costs of leasing an aircraft in the interim and it will not disrupt the existing flight schedule. The 8C check can be scheduled anytime after 10 years but as this will be a heavy maintenance combined with a C check it will take about 21 days. This will leave no alternative for KalAir but to schedule this heavy maintenance back to back for all the three older A318 aircraft after the newest A318 aircraft that came in year 5 completes its 4C check and heavy maintenance. For example A318 1 will undergo maintenance first because it has the highest utilisation, followed by A318 2 and so on from March to May during the period of heavy maintenance.

The 4C checks will commence after receiving the fourth A318 aircraft if possible. The other aircraft will then be sent to a third party maintenance organisation for heavy maintenance. This 4C checks for the A318 will be scheduled from March to May of Year 5. This is to allow for stability of the flight schedule and the balance of work load for the maintenance staff as the ATR 72 fleet will return from their heavy maintenance beginning in October in Year 4 till January in Year 5. This is to give an allowance because it has been seen from past experience that when aircraft return from heavy maintenance there is an increased occurrence of maintenance snags.

In Year 10 the 8C checks require restoration of main gear and can commence from March to May of Year 10 to synchronise all A318 heavy maintenance during this period. As this can be planned ahead provisions for a leased A318 can be made without being affected by the peak summer periods. If an A318 is unavailable KalAir can wet lease another type of aircraft that has similar capacity and operating capabilities.

For the ATR 72 as the maintenance is planned to be carried out in-house. Based on a 500FH interval for an A check it works out to about one check in one and a half months. A C check will be at about a 15 month interval based on the flight hours of the flying schedule. It would not be productive for the ATR maintenance staff to remain idle between the inspection intervals hence the C1 and C3 checks in the first five years will be equalised before the first heavy maintenance in Year 4 which will allow it to be carried out in a shorter time. The C check intervals will be shortened such that each ATR 72 aircraft will undergo a check in a year. The maintenance will be scheduled such that the ATR7 1 has the highest utilisation will undergo maintenance first followed by ATR7 2 and so on.

The heavy C checks for the ATR 72s will commence every year in October and last till January the following year. In the first five years it is possible to make a minor change to the flight schedule to free one aircraft so that the other aircraft can spend some time in the hangar for the heavy checks. Moreover this will last during the October to January time frame which is long enough for passengers not to be affected by the minor change in the flight schedule. With reference to the flight schedule in Appendix 1 the third ATR72, AT7 3 can operate to SUZ instead of TOZ at 1400hrs and operate another flight to TOZ departing for TOZ at 1800hrs as TOZ has capability to handle aircraft at night. This amendment to the flight schedule can be done during the October to January time period.

From Year 6 onwards it would not be possible to use a block concept for the ATR 72 C checks because it would not be possible to take an aircraft out of the flight schedule. It would be possible to use a single task oriented maintenance concept for the C checks but the aircraft will still have to be out of service during the periods of heavy maintenance where structural inspections need to be carried out. For example the 8C check comprises structural inspections, landing gear replacements and propeller inspections which are huge job packages to be completed over a period of night stops. Hence it would be better to ground the aircraft to carry out this heavy maintenance and the necessary modifications and embodiment of Airworthiness Directives. During this period from October to January another ATR 72 aircraft can be leased to operate the schedule. It is also possible to operate an ATR 42 aircraft if an ATR 72 is unavailable because of the spare parts commonality and cross crew qualification.

The assumptions made in creating the maintenance schedule for the A318 and ATR 72 fleet of aircraft are.

  • Aircraft maintenance is performed during the night at KKV
  • The C checks for the ATR 72 from Year 1 to 4 will be performed during the day and night.
  • The maintenance base is located within the vicinity of KKV airport.
  • The heavy maintenance for the A318 is outsourced.
  • The experienced gained on the first aircraft for the checks will allow maintenance staff to complete the same type of work on the other aircraft in a shorter time frame.
  • The scheduled overhaul of engines and components with will be planned to synchronise with the scheduled checks.

5.1 Maintenance Costs

The maintenance costs for the A318 and ATR 72 aircrafts are calculated and attached in Appendix 2A to 2D. The average flight hours and cycles from Table 3 are used to calculate the maintenance costs based on these utilisation rates. The assumptions made here are that the average distance travelled by the A318 aircraft is 1000nm and 200nm for the ATR 72, both the aircraft will depreciate to 30% of its original value after 12years and the cost of investment will include spares which amount to about 19% of the aircraft price.

The annual maintenance costs for the A318 aircraft is about two million a year. From Year 5 the maintenance costs per aircraft is slightly less because an extra A318 has been acquired and the flight hours per aircraft are slightly lower giving rise to a lower cost per aircraft trip. The maintenance costs for the ATR 72 aircraft is about one million a year and it works out to about one thousand dollars per aircraft trip. The maintenance costs from Year 5 onwards has shown an increase because more flights are undertaken with the existing fleet of ATR 72 aircraft giving rise to a fifty cents increase per aircraft mile.

6.0 Issues to overcome

There is a strong need to lease an aircraft for both the A318 and ATR 72 fleet when these aircraft undergo heavy maintenance. This is due to the high utilisation of the aircrafts in the normal flight schedule. There is a need to have an ‘AOG' team and necessary spares inventory stationed at KKV in the event that an aircraft becomes stranded at one of the overseas stations. Supplementary work force can be employed from within the region or the Indian sub continent when the ATR 72s undergo heavy maintenance or the situation warrants it. If difficulties arise in carrying out the work in-house KalAir should establish strong relationships with maintenance organisations in India to outsource work as both the aircraft types operate in India and manpower will not be an issue.

7.0 Conclusion

Due to its unique location and surroundings KalAir has to build up substantial maintenance capability. It can outsource maintenance work but has to hold sufficient inventory of spares to keep its fleet flying. KalAir cannot afford to have an ‘AOG' and keep the aircraft on ground due to the unavailability of spares because of the very tight flight schedule it is operating. As all domestic traffic needs to be carried it also cannot afford to cancel flights and cannot remove aircraft from service to carry out maintenance. As the lessor requires that all aircraft return to base and no night flights can be conducted it gives a good opportunity to schedule all maintenance at night and clear all faults before the first flight the next day. Due to the constraints that KalAir faces it would be more prudent to lease aircrafts in the short term period when the A318 and ATR 72 aircraft undergo heavy maintenance to meet the flight schedule.

References

Clark, Paul. Buying the big jets: fleet planning for airlines. Ashgate Pub., 2007

Air Transport Intelligence Fleet Search

http://www.rati.com/frameset/frameset_f.asp?target=../news/news.asp

(accessed 3rd June 2008)

Alfares, Hesham. K. Aircraft maintenance workforce scheduling. Journal of Quality in Maintenance Engineering 5(2), 1999

ATR aircraft website.

http://www.atraircraft.com/public/atr/html/products/products.php?aid=506&pid=28710

(accessed 3rd June 2008)

Hessburg, Jack. Air carrier MRO handbook. New York : McGraw-Hill, 2001.

Kinnison, Harry A. Aviation maintenance management. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2004.

S.Yan et al. Airline short-term maintenance manpower supply planning. Transportation Research Part A (38), 2004

1.0 Introduction

This paper will look into the regulatory requirements laid down by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for Continuing Airworthiness Management Organisations and then the procedures that need to be taken for a commercial airline based in the EU to meet these requirements.

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) was created on 28th September 2003 and endowed with the regulatory and executive tasks in civil aviation safety. EASA has jurisdiction over new aircraft type certificates, design related airworthiness approvals for aircraft, engines and parts. EASA has also developed regulations for air operations, flight crew licensing and has also established common technical requirements and administrative procedures for ensuring the continuing airworthiness of aircraft.

European Commission Regulation 1702/2003 of 24th September 2003 is on the airworthiness and environmental certification of aircraft and related products, parts and appliances, as well as for the certification of design and production organisations. European Commission Regulation 2042/2003 of 20th November 2003 is on the continuing airworthiness of aircraft and aeronautical products, parts and appliances, and on the approval of organisations and personnel involved in these tasks.

Annex I of EC 2042/2003 is on Part M Continuing Airworthiness, which lays down the measures to be taken to ensure that maintenance and airworthiness is maintained. It also specifies the conditions to be met by the persons and organisations involved in continuing airworthiness management (De Florio 2006). Annex II of EC 2042/2003 is on Part 145 Maintenance Organisation Approval, this establishes the requirements to be met by a maintenance organisation to qualify for the issue or continuation of an approval for the maintenance of aircraft and components (De Florio 2006). Annex III of EC 2042/2003 is on Part 66 Certifying Staff, this establishes the requirements for the issue of an aircraft maintenance engineers' licence and the conditions of its validity and use (De Florio 2006). Annex IV of EC 2042/2003 is on Part 147 Training Organisation Requirements, this establishes the requirements to be met by training organisations seeking approval to conduct training and examinations for personnel as specified in Part 66 (De Florio 2006).

2.0 Part M Continuing Airworthiness

Part M comprises of two sections, Section A covers the Technical Requirements and is more appropriate to airlines and Continuing Airworthiness Management Organisations (CAMO) and Section B covers the Procedure for Competent Authorities. Part M Section A (Technical Requirements) is divided into the following Subparts:

  • Subpart A: General
  • Subpart B: Accountability
  • Subpart C: Continuing Airworthiness
  • Subpart D: Maintenance Standards
  • Subpart E: Components
  • Subpart F: Maintenance Organisation
  • Subpart G: Continuing Airworthiness Management Organisation
  • Subpart H: Certificate of Release to Service (CRS)
  • Subpart I: Airworthiness Review Certificate

For an airline operating in the European Union (EU) the continuing airworthiness of individual aircraft and the issue of the Airworthiness Review Certificate (ARC) will be under the authority designated by the member state of registry, that is the competent authority. For example for an airline based in the United Kingdom (UK) the competent authority will be the UK Civil Aviation Authority. Also for the continuing airworthiness management organisation and maintenance organisation as specified in Part M Section A Subparts F and G respectively, the approval is under the authority designated by the member state where the organisations principle place of business is located. The salient points of the different Subparts will be looked into that have an effect on a commercial airline based in the EU.

2.1 Subpart B: Accountability

The owner or lessee (if stipulated in the registration document or leasing contract) is responsible for the following:

  1. Aircraft is maintained in airworthy condition.
  2. Operation and emergency equipment is serviceable or identified as unserviceable.
  3. Certificate of Airworthiness is valid.
  4. Maintenance of the aircraft is performed in accordance with an approved maintenance programmed.
  5. The pre-flight inspection must be carried out by the pilot or another qualified person.
  6. Access is granted to the competent authority.
  7. Continuing airworthiness of the aircraft shall be approved according to Part M Section A Subpart G as part of the Air Operator's Certificate (AOC) in accordance to Part 145 or contracted out to such an approved organization.

Therefore the above conditions will be under the responsibility of a commercial airline based in the EU and the subcontract is done under the authority of the operator.

2.2 Subpart C: Continuing Airworthiness

The continuing airworthiness of the aircraft and the serviceability of both operational and emergency equipment shall be ensured by the following:

  1. Pre-flight inspections.
  2. Rectification of defects and damage.
  3. Accomplishment of all maintenance in compliance with maintenance programme tasks.
  4. The analysis of the effectiveness of the approved maintenance programme.
  5. Accomplishment of Airworthiness Directives.
  6. Accomplishment of modifications and repairs in accordance with approved data.
  7. Maintenance check flights carried out when necessary.

An airline operating in the EU can contract a Part 145 approved maintenance organisation to carry out the above continuing airworthiness tasks and these must be detailed in the contract. Part M Subparts D, E and F cover maintenance standards and are more applicable to a maintenance organisation and will not have an effect on a commercial airline based in the EU.

2.3 Subpart G: Continuing Airworthiness Management Organisation

For a commercial airline the Continuing Airworthiness Management Organisation (CAMO) should be part of the Air Operator's Certificate (AOC). An approved CAMO may additionally be approved to issue an airworthiness review certificate or make a recommendation for the airworthiness review to a member state of registry. The CAMO will have to provide a Continuing Airworthiness Management Exposition (CAME) that is approved by the competent authority. An accountable manager, nominated post holder and sufficient appropriately qualified staff need to be appointed. For a commercial airline the accountable manager appointed to ensure continuing airworthiness should be the operator's accountable manager. The accountable manager, nominated post holders and airworthiness review staff need to demonstrate the relevant knowledge, background and appropriate experience related to aircraft continuing airworthiness and these qualifications will be documented in EASA Form 4. The airworthiness review staff will be identified in the Continuing Airworthiness Management Exposition (CAME) together with their authorisation reference and records. The Continuing Airworthiness Management Exposition (CAME) needs to have the following items documented as well.

  1. Accountable Manager's statement.
  2. Scope of work (that is the type of aircraft operated by the airline).
  3. Nominated post holders (the people that support the accountable manager).
  4. An Organisation chart.
  5. Airworthiness Review Staff details.
  6. Description and location of facilities.
  7. Organisational Procedures.
  8. Amendment process of the CAME.

A commercial airline that has a contract with a Part 145 Maintenance Organisation has to ensure that all maintenance is carried out by a Part 145 Maintenance Organisation. The base and line maintenance contracts together with the engine maintenance contracts need to be approved by the competent authority, for an airline operating in the UK it will be the UK CAA. The airline may have work orders for unscheduled and component maintenance.

To satisfy the Airworthiness Review Certificate (ARC) requirements the CAMO needs to carry out a full review of the aircraft records and documentation. The Part M Subpart G approved organisation with ARC privileges will need to perform a physical survey of the aircraft. If staff are not appropriately qualified to Part 66 standards they need to be assisted by such staff. An Airworthiness Review Certificate EASA Form 15b shall be issued for an aircraft which has been in a managed environment for more than 12 months or a recommendation to the competent authority that is the UK CAA for a UK registered aircraft for the issue of an ARC EASA Form 15a can be made by the authorised airworthiness review staff when satisfied with the review. Fig 2 and Fig 3 illustrates the Airworthiness Review Certificate (ARC) process.

Option A

Controlled Environment, Commercial Air transport

Option B

Controlled Environment, Commercial Air transport

2.4 Subpart I: Airworthiness Review Certificate

An Airworthiness Review Certificate (Form 15a or 15b) is issued upon completion of a satisfactory review and is valid for one year. The competent authority will issue a Form 15a for a new aircraft and following a recommendation from a Part M Subpart G CAMO issue or renew for existing aircraft. The CAMO which has additional privileges to perform airworthiness reviews will issue Form 15b and this can only be issued to an aircraft in a controlled environment and may extend the validity twice for Airworthiness Review Certificates it has issued. The EASA certificate of airworthiness statement states that a current Airworthiness Review Certificate shall be attached to the Certificate of Airworthiness (C of A) of an aircraft and the C of A and the ARC is always carried in the aircraft. The Airworthiness Review Certificate will be invalidated when:

  • The Airworthiness Review Certificate is suspended or revoked
  • The Certificate of Airworthiness is suspended or revoked
  • The aircraft is not on the register of an EU member state
  • The type certificate is suspended or revoked.

3.0 Compliance process for a Continuing Airworthiness Management Organisation

The following are the procedures that need to be taken by a commercial airline that has an Air Operator's Certificate based in the EU and needs to comply with Part M Subpart G requirements. As a Continuing Airworthiness Management Organisation it will need to have a Continuing Airworthiness Management Exposition that reflects the organisation and have its procedures documented.

3.1 General Organisation

A corporate commitment by the accountable manager must be documented. The relationship with other organisations like a Part 145 Maintenance Organisation needs to be recorded. The details of the type and composition of the aircraft fleet managed must be detailed. The duties and responsibilities of the Accountable Manager, that is the one that has overall responsibility for meeting the requirements of Part M. The Continuing Airworthiness Manager, that is the nominated post holder for continuing airworthiness and the Quality Manager, person responsible for the quality monitoring programme and contracted maintenance support must also have their responsibilities documented. An organisation chart that includes activities that have been sub contracted needs to be included. The details of the manager who is responsible for the review and amendment of the Continuing Airworthiness Management Exposition (CAME) needs to be submitted to the competent authority for approval prior to incorporation in the CAME.

3.2 Continuing Airworthiness Management Procedures

This will cover the aircraft tech log utilisation, Minimum Equipment List (MEL) application and the aircraft maintenance programme. The maintenance programme needs to be submitted to the CAA for approval and if it is developed by a maintenance organisation it has to be submitted through the operator for approval. Copies of the maintenance programme will be held by the operator's continuing airworthiness manager, all contracted Part 145 Maintenance Organisations and the CAA. Liaison meetings between the Continuing Airworthiness Manager/Accountable Manager and the contracted Part 145 Maintenance Organisations need to be held once in 6 months to discuss and review the effectiveness of the maintenance programme. Considerations and procedures for short term dry lease of aircraft by the operator need to be drawn out and the CAA needs to be informed by the Continuing Airworthiness Manager of the proposed lease before it takes place.

3.3 Quality System

The CAME needs to define the continuing airworthiness quality policy, planning and procedures to meet the requirements of Part M Subpart G. A quality audit procedure and the necessary remedial action after the audit process needs to be in place. The audit plan needs to cover the following:

  • An assessment of the continuing airworthiness management activities against the procedures detailed in the CAME and the ability of the people in charge to discharge their responsibilities with respect to Part M requirements.
  • A review of the effectiveness of the maintenance programme and the corrective action taken.
  • Verification of the Part 145 Maintenance Organisations that the approval granted by the CAA/EASA is relevant to the maintenance being performed.
  • Verification that all contracted maintenance is carried out in accordance with the contract, including sub-contractors used by the main contractor.

3.4 Contracted Maintenance

The details of the maintenance arrangement of an operator with a maintenance organisation need to be documented. The division of responsibility of these arrangements between the operator and the maintenance organisation together with the maintenance contracts for base, line and engine off wing support needs to be documented. The selection process for a maintenance contractor by an operator needs to be documented and then a verification of the maintenance organisation will be carried out by the Continuing Airworthiness Manager.

4.0 Airworthiness Review Procedures

The working procedures for the assessment of the airworthiness review staff need to be established. The experience, qualification and training of the Airworthiness Review Staff need to be documented and the necessary records of these staff have to be maintained. The airworthiness review staff must be acceptable to the competent authority with an application made to the CAA on EASA Form 4. The airworthiness review procedure will compose of a review of aircraft records and a physical survey of the aircraft by a suitably qualified person. The organisation's procedures for recommendation to competent authorities for the import of aircraft either used or new for the issue of an Airworthiness Certificate in accordance to Part 21 Subpart H needs to be documented. Also the communication procedures with the competent authority for the issue of an Airworthiness Review Certificate EASA Form 15a need to be clearly outlined. The Continuing Airworthiness Management Organisation procedures for the issue of an Airworthiness Review Certificate EASA Form 15b, record keeping, distribution of Airworthiness Review Certificate copies, airworthiness review records retention and access need to be clearly spelt out in the Continuing Airworthiness Management Exposition (CAME).

5.0 Conclusion

The regulations for the continuing airworthiness is laid down by EASA and the process for managing the continuing airworthiness for aircraft is cascaded down to the commercial airline operator who holds an Air Operator's Certificate and conforms to Part M Subpart G requirements with the required approval and privileges.

References

De Florio, Filippo. Airworthiness: an introduction to aircraft certification: a guide to understanding JAA, EASA, and FAA standards. Butterworth-Heinemann, 2006.

EASA Regulations

Regulation (EC) No 216/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council. 20th February 2008

Commission Regulation (EC) No 2042/2003. 20th November 2003

On the continuing airworthiness of aircraft and aeronautical products, parts and appliances, and on the approval of organisations and personnel involved in these tasks

EASA web page

http://www.easa.eu.int/ws_prod/g/rg_regulations.php

UK CAA

http://www.caa.co.uk/application.aspx?catid=33&pagetype=65&appid=11&mode=detail&id=1918

Wikipedia EASA

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/European_Aviation_Safety_Agency

Section A

The decision on whether, and how to outsource the continuing airworthiness and maintenance functions of an airline can be quite a complex one. Discuss the relevant issues that need to be considered and explain how you would make such a decision.

1.0 Introduction

The aviation industry is highly competitive and airlines must do all they can to keep costs down now. Outsourcing maintenance is seen as a way of keeping an airline's maintenance costs down. This essay will look at the factors that need to be considered on deciding whether or not to outsource the maintenance and continuing airworthiness functions of an airline and the criteria a maintenance repair organisation must meet.

2.0 Operator Characteristics

The first step will be to analyse what type of operator the airline is, whether is it a legacy carrier, a new start up airline, a low cost carrier, a charter operator or a cargo operator. Due to the different operational characteristics of these airlines a unique maintenance programme needs to be tailored for each type of operator. For example a charter operator will schedule their maintenance during the off peak periods whereas a legacy carrier needs to maintain a high level of availability of aircraft especially for long haul flights and a low cost carrier would need to schedule maintenance such that there is a high availability of aircraft during the day. The size of the fleet and types of aircraft operated are also points of consideration whether to outsource maintenance. If an airline has a large fleet of similar type of aircraft then it might be justifiable to have in-house maintenance facilities.

An airline can choose to outsource all its maintenance activities including technical management or decide to keep some levels of maintenance in-house. Heavy maintenance, line maintenance, engine overhaul, component repair and overhaul, technical management and maintenance planning functions can all be outsourced. Airlines also need to consider whether to outsource functions that are critical to despatch reliability like line maintenance and maintenance control. Airlines that already have in-house capability for some levels of maintenance can continue to carry on and outsource work that they do not have capability for. Heavy maintenance is labour intensive and incurs high capital costs for hangar space, jacks and rigs. Engine overhaul requires special expertise and is high in material costs. Engine manufacturers give good power by the hour deals and these high tech and special repairs would be better if outsourced as the expertise from the manufacturer is available. The maintenance of aircraft components is high on capital costs due to the investment in test equipment required hence it would be more efficient to outsource this maintenance for better efficiency and the component repair facility would have the specialised skills on hand.

3.0 Investment Costs

If an airline outsources maintenance its capital investment in building space for hangars and equipment will be lower and the overheads on maintenance staff like technicians, engineers and managers will also be greatly reduced. With outsourced maintenance the airline would not be burdened by large up front investments for the purchase of a maintenance facility and the necessary equipment. Also the airline would not have to worry about the selection and training of maintenance personnel.

4.0 Product Knowledge

A third party maintenance provider will have extensive experience on the particular type of aircraft an airline operates because of work done on similar aircraft belonging to other operators. This will give the maintenance organisation better product knowledge and with this expertise the management of the maintenance would be better. The experience levels on the different types of maintenance would be much higher resulting in shorter times required to perform the maintenance. With these shorter times for maintenance it will enable the maintenance organisation to perform the maintenance tasks at a lower cost compared to an airline carrying out its own maintenance. However an airline with a large fleet of aircraft can also enjoy this benefit if the maintenance is conducted in-house.

5.0 Fleet Development

As an airline develops its network and operates to newer and further destinations newer aircraft need to be procured. These new aircraft would either be larger to meet the higher passenger demands or designed for long range operations. If an airline carries out its own maintenance it needs to acquire new equipment to maintain these new aircraft types and its old maintenance equipment would become obsolete. The airline would also need to provide training for the maintenance staff to be competent to maintain these new aircraft types and the airline also needs to make an application to the competent authority to certify its capability to carry out maintenance on these new aircraft types. With an increased fleet size the airline would need to acquire a larger maintenance facility thus incurring more expenses. Therefore outsourcing maintenance for a developing airline would be a good option as it can acquire more aircraft without having to incur extra expenses. If the current maintenance provider for the airline cannot handle the capacity of the new aircraft the airline can source for another maintenance provider.

6.0 Advancement of Technology

As technology develops newer aircraft will be fitted with more advanced equipment. To maintain these equipment new maintenance equipment will need to be acquired and there will also be new maintenance procedures that need to be followed. To equip the maintenance staff with the necessary skills to use the sophisticated equipment to carry out maintenance effectively they would need to undergo further training. Hence if an airline outsources its maintenance it would not be faced with the additional capital costs to acquire maintenance equipment and the costs incurred to send staff for further training.

7.0 Availability of resources

If an airline operates a small fleet of aircraft its maintenance staff will be faced with seasonal workloads when the aircraft undergoes maintenance. The airline would be incurring unnecessary costs by paying its maintenance staff who are not productive at all and the use of resources would not be maximised throughout the year. To solve this problem, the best solution would be to outsource the maintenance work

When outsourcing maintenance work the location of the service provider must be considered carefully. If the service provider is on site it will be very convenient for the airline in terms of communication, the transport of spares, ensuring oversight and there would not be a need to ferry aircraft. Some airlines would arrange for its own parts to be used and problems maybe encountered during the shipment process. Some maintenance organisations might not have a good supply chain for spares and the aircraft might be sitting on the ground waiting for spares. Other maintenance organisations might look at an alternative option of fitting a bogus part on the aircraft. Hence the availability of spares and the receiving and inspection procedures before they are put on an aircraft are important considerations when selecting a maintenance provider.

8.0 Continuing Airworthiness Management

Even though maintenance is outsourced it is still the operator's responsibility that the aircraft complies with the regulatory requirements. Hence the airline still needs to maintain oversight and a level of control of the third party maintenance provider. Clear communication channels need to be established between the airline and maintenance provider so that the possibility of confusion arising would be minimal. If an airline decides to outsource its continuing airworthiness management tasks, a detailed list of responsibilities and the requirements the third party maintenance organisation needs to meet must be clearly drawn out. The following are the main points that must be in the maintenance agreement for sub contracting continuing airworthiness management.

  1. Scope of work
  2. (Type of aircraft, engine types and components to be maintained)
  3. Maintenance programme development and amendment
  4. (Operator's responsibility to get authority's approval)
  5. Defined liaison with operator
  6. Quality monitoring by operator
  7. Embodiment of Airworthiness Directives, Service Bulletins and modifications
  8. Continuing airworthiness records (Operator is the owner of the document but it is maintained by the sub contracted organisation)

9.0 Issues to be considered for a Part 145 Maintenance Organisation

The potential cost savings might be too good to ignore in outsourcing maintenance. However several factors other than costs must be looked into before deciding which organisation to outsource work to. Most airlines usually outsource heavy, engine and component maintenance to third party maintenance organisations. These maintenance organisations need to display that they have a strong commitment to quality and safety and have a robust quality assurance process in-house. A strong reputation of maintenance organisations built on these principles would make it more attractive to airlines to select them.

An airline needs to draw out its forecasting and maintenance planning data and the necessary work scopes required. Only then will the airline be able to see what kind of service level it requires from a maintenance organisation. On site audits of the maintenance organisation should be carried out by the airline to evaluate the quality, workmanship, availability of hangar space, equipment, workshops and adequately trained certifying staff. The location of the maintenance facility will be an important decision because that will affect the availability of the aircraft and whether the competent authority will allow a ferry flight to a maintenance base far away in Asia. This is due to the higher risk of the longer flight time of an aircraft that requires maintenance. Also there will be a need to station staff at the maintenance facility to ensure oversight of the aircraft undergoing heavy maintenance. The maintenance organisation should not only have the capability and capacity to do heavy maintenance but should also be able to accommodate drop-in maintenance due to unexpected failures in the aircraft.

9.1 Service level agreement

Once the maintenance organisation is chosen the expectations of the operator and maintenance organisation need to be put in writing to avoid any misunderstandings. The airline needs to define the standardisation of the work it expects, that is in accordance with its standards. Usually when the first few aeroplanes undergo maintenance with the maintenance organisation both the airline and maintenance organisation must agree on an acceptable process of maintenance. This will be done by on site teams sent by the airline to monitor and evaluate the maintenance work. The outsourcing contract needs to clearly divide the responsibilities of the airline and maintenance organisation. The airline needs to specify that the maintenance takes place within a specified time frame and its on site personnel need to maintain a tight control. The airline must be allowed to make an in depth review of the invoices by the personnel who are on site who can verify the charges on the work done.

There must be a clear line of communication between the airline and maintenance organisation. An example would be to have a designated person at the airline for all outsourcing contracts to avoid confusion. A strong partnership needs to be built with the operator and the maintenance organisation. For example the contract should not include turn around time penalties if the engine being worked on is not needed immediately. If the maintenance organisation exceeds expectations with a faster turn around time at a lower budget, the cost savings can be shared by both parties.

Compatibility of IT software solutions with the maintenance organisation and the airline must exist. Airlines require these software solutions to monitor the progress and quality of outsourced maintenance as the airworthiness of the aircraft and equipment is under the airline's responsibility.

9.2 Review and feed back

The airline needs to make an in depth performance review of the maintenance organisation assessing the quality, reliability, turn around time and overall value. In turn the maintenance organisation needs to survey its airline customers on its turn around times, invoicing accuracy, accessibility, professionalism and understanding of the work. The differences in these opinions have to be reviewed and both the airline and maintenance organisation need to make the necessary changes and share best practices to improve.

10.0 Conclusion

A small airline with a small fleet of aircraft can outsource its maintenance to numerous different maintenance organisations. For example one for wheels and brakes, one for line maintenance, one for heavy maintenance and one for engines. The reason for doing so would be to obtain the lowest prices, though this might be seen like a big cost saving but it would be a burden for the airline to exercise oversight on the different maintenance organisations. It would be more practical to use a single maintenance provider who has a wide range of capability or sub contracts out its work to approved organisations. This will act like a one stop shop for airlines and it will be easier to exercise oversight. In short outsourcing maintenance reduces the risks and costs for an airline and helps it to run efficiently but oversight must always be maintained as the responsibility of the aircraft lies with the operator.

Section B

Considerable changes are occurring in the MRO industry on a global scale. Analyse the issues facing the MRO industry today, and how they will affect the market in the future.

1.0 Introduction

The maintenance repair and overhaul (MRO) industry is highly competitive as maintenance organisations try to compete on price to attract airlines and as they in turn try to keep costs down. Outsourcing maintenance is seen as a way of keeping an airline's maintenance costs down but the landscape is changing in the maintenance industry. The environment is changing with the improvement of technology and the integration of original equipment manufacturers (OEM) with maintenance organisations. This essay will look at the changes occurring in the MRO industry on a global scale and how it will affect the market in the future.

2.0 Greater reliability of aircraft

The maintenance requirements of new aircraft are getting much less compared to the Boeing 747 Classics for example. The hydraulic systems, components and electrical systems have become more reliable these days and less maintenance is required to maintain them. With this increased reliability the maintenance intervals for new aircraft are increasing. The reduced maintenance requirements and the improved reliability will impact on the total aircraft overhaul volumes. However as aircraft orders have been increasing in recent times and reaching unprecedented heights in aircraft orders and backlogs, this increase in numbers would not affect maintenance organisations drastically as aircraft reliability has improved. The current jet fleet size is 18 816 aircraft and this is about a 6.7% increase from 2007 and the size of the fleet is expected to grow at about 4.6% per year over the next decade (Jackman).

The world aircraft fleet is expected to be concentrated on the Airbus A320 and the Boeing 737 families of aircraft representing around 48% of the fleet (Flight Intl, Apr 2008). Hence in the future more maintenance will focus on these two aircraft types and MRO's would need to develop specialty skills in maintenance of these two aircraft types to remain competitive in the industry.

3.0 Usage of PMA (Parts Manufacturer Approval) parts

PMA (Parts Manufacturer Approval) parts are spare parts for aircraft, engines and components manufactured and approved under Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) regulations. These parts were first manufactured as a need for replacement parts for out of production military aircraft. Companies that make PMA parts need to prove to the FAA that these parts can meet or exceed the test standards and criteria of the identical original part that it seeks to replace. In the industry there are two different types of PMA parts suppliers. Licensed PMA suppliers work with original equipment manufacturers (OEM) to produce parts for declining aircraft types or low demand parts. Competitive PMA suppliers compete with original equipment manufacturers (OEM) to produce parts.

As airlines are forced to seek as much cost savings as possible PMA parts are a good alternative. Regulatory authorities have also shown acceptance and given approval to more PMA parts thereby making it more acceptable to airlines. The main markets for PMA parts are in engine overhaul, component maintenance and airframe heavy maintenance. Material costs account for a large portion of costs in engine overhaul and greater penetration of PMA parts in this area would benefit both the airlines and the PMA parts suppliers.

Pratt & Whitney an engine manufacturer has also gone into the manufacture of PMA replacement parts for CFM56-3 engines. The CFM56, manufactured by CFM International, is widely used in the industry and Pratt & Whitney has been providing repair and overhaul of these engines following purchase of independent maintenance organisations. If Pratt & Whitney is successful in manufacturing PMA life limited engine parts that account for about 25% of the engine material and also account for a large portion of maintenance costs, that would definitely change the landscape of PMA parts usage.

A constraint faced by airlines that operate leased aircraft is that the leasing companies prohibit the use of PMA parts on their aircraft because it might have a negative impact on the residual value of the aircraft.

PMA parts suppliers will have to work harder to convince both regulators and customers so that there will be wider acceptance. Though the acceptance of PMA parts is very gradual now but it will definitely pick up with increased approvals from regulatory authorities and also as airlines try to strive for lower cost maintenance.

4.0 Original Equipment Manufacturer Support

As more of the aircraft parts are designed to be line replaceable units (LRU) and line replaceable modules (LRM) these components have to be sent back to the original equipment manufacturers (OEM) as they now provide integrated component support. This trend is prevalent in Asia and is now emerging in North America.

For example Southwest Airlines signed up with GE Aviation Engine Services for maintenance solution for about 600 CFM56-7 engines that power the Boeing 737s. (Overhaul & Maintenance, May 2006). This maintenance package allows Southwest Airlines to obtain the necessary repairs quickly and have more cost control over engine maintenance. Also the CFM56-7 engines were relatively new and the airline would not have been able to quantify the reliability hence a maintenance package was a safer option.

Engine manufacturers like Rolls Royce have come up with a Total Care engine support service. It provides a single source of solution for an airline covering things like off-wing support, information management like engine health monitoring, in-service support and inventory management. With this customised programme for an airline it gives the airline an opportunity to remove uncertainties in engine management and provides more manageable and predictable maintenance costs.

Boeing is introducing GoldCare, an airplane business solution together with the launch of the new Boeing 787 aircraft. GoldCare is a support service that is specially tailored to fit an airline's operations. GoldCare will cover services like planning and control, engineering and material management. These services will be provided by MROs and supply centres located around the world under Boeing's leadership. This will allow small airlines to enjoy economies of scale with technical planning and support and large airlines can be more nimble by reducing the burden on asset ownership.

Original equipment manufacturers are establishing networks of third party maintenance repair and overhaul organisations in different parts of the world to meet airline operators' needs. For example Pratt & Whitney has established engine overhaul shops in the Asia Pacific region in Singapore with SIA Engineering Company and in New Zealand with Air New Zealand and these were former airline engine overhaul shops. Pratt & Whitney will also be setting up an engine overhaul facility in Shanghai in a partnership with China Eastern Airlines and take in third party work for CFM56 engines. Altogether Pratt & Whitney has established its presence in twenty five different locations around the world particularly in the Asia Pacific region thereby providing convenient worldwide product maintenance support.

Rolls Royce has also established joint ventures with maintenance organisations to form Texas Aero Engine Services (TAESL), Hong Kong Aero Engine Services (HAESL) and Singapore Aero Engine Services (SAESL). Singapore Aero Engine Services (SAESL) has also been established as a Trent Centre of Excellence with special expertise established in the maintenance to the Trent family of engines that power the A330, A340, A380 and B777 aircraft.

Airbus and Boeing are also establishing maintenance organisations in developing countries like India and China. Airbus plans to establish an Airbus Engineering Centre in India and Boeing has established Boeing Shanghai Aviation Services that does aircraft modification, maintenance and component repairs.

Lessors nowadays are offering wet leases that include maintenance because lessors need to pursue competitive differentiation and also need to maintain the residual value of their aircraft with up to date paperwork, maintenance and prevent the introduction of PMA parts that will be detrimental to the aircraft value.

Original equipment manufacturers (OEM) have become service integrators now by engaging in maintenance in a partnership together with airlines or independent MROs. These all inclusive solutions like Total Care and GoldCare appeal to new entrants which can avoid the costs of inventory and maintenance infrastructure and thereby reduce the considerable risk of start up airlines.

5.0 Composites

Though composites like carbon fibre reinforced plastic (CFRP) have been used on aircrafts for some time, newer composites like Glare are being developed. Due to the unfamiliarity in the maintenance of composites it has led to uncertain repair techniques and fault identification. The inspection and repair of composites has not reached a high maturity level in the maintenance organisations and new forms of composites are being introduced in new aircraft types. Though inspection programmes have been set up for new composites this will have implications on the MRO's ability to do inspections and carry out the necessary repairs on composites. Also engineers need to be adequately trained to visually inspect and also use special equipment to carry out inspections accurately.

6.0 Use of Technology

With the improved technology used on board aircraft there would not be a need for an increase in maintenance work force to match the anticipated fleet growth. On board maintenance systems will allow for easier maintenance. There would not be a need for detailed aircraft systems knowledge to trouble shoot faults in an aircraft because on board maintenance systems make trouble shooting easier. For example the B777s have a Central Maintenance Computer to process systems faults and the engineer can access all the fault details through a Maintenance Access Terminal on board the aircraft. This makes it easier for the engineer to isolate and rectify faults. The technology has also developed to the extent where faults messages can be transmitted through the Aircraft Communication Addressing And Reporting System (ACARS) to the repair station while the aircraft is airborne hence the maintenance team can prepare the necessary equipment and spares before the arrival of the aircraft. This would result is a faster repair time and increase aircraft availability with minimal disruption to the flight schedule.

Airbus has developed AIRMAN (Aircraft Maintenance Analysis) a software designed to optimise the maintenance and trouble shooting of the aircraft. AIRMAN constantly monitors and analyses the health of the aircraft in the air from the maintenance control centre and instantly provides updates if warnings or fault messages are registered on the aircraft's onboard maintenance system. This will allow the maintenance personnel to prioritise trouble shooting and allow them to access relevant aircraft manuals, previous defect history and maintenance actions. AIRMAN provides operational benefits like anticipation of events while the aircraft is airborne, improves despatch reliability, reduces maintenance costs and improves the efficiency of maintenance actions.

Boeing has also developed a similar system called Airplane Health Management (AHM). AHM provides real time fault management while the aircraft is en-route, it also does performance monitoring like trends and fuel efficiency. AHM also does service monitoring where tyre pressure, oxygen pressure, hydraulic fluid and engine oil levels are monitored and consumption trends are tracked to facilitate maintenance planning. The AHM developed by Boeing will help airlines improve operational performance and reduce delays, cancellations, air turn backs and diversions which will allow the airline to save costs.

These data and aircraft information transmitted by the AIRMAN and AHM also go to the aircraft manufacturers who will then be able to improve and develop on their product reliability. With more electronics on board aircraft, complex test equipment is required and highly trained staff are needed to use the equipment. The high capital investment in the complex test equipment will act as high barriers to entry in the MRO business.

7.0 Radio Frequency Identification (RFID)

The use of RFID has proven to be useful in the maintenance and overhaul industry. Manufacturers like Boeing and Airbus have started to use RFID on maintenance significant parts like life limited parts, line replaceable units and on board emergency equipment. The use of RFID will allow parts to be tracked within a maintenance facility and prevent the penetration of bogus parts. RFID tagged parts on an aircraft will allow the maintenance personnel to access the service history and details of the part without having to remove access panels to reach the part. The use of RFID will enhance the traceability and tracking of parts which will help save handling time.

8.0 Information Technology Solutions

Boeing has developed a Portable Maintenance Aid. Engineers can use this maintenance aid to record down snags and faults or areas that require inspection. This Portable Maintenance Aid allows access to the aircraft maintenance manual, illustrated parts catalogue and wiring diagram manual. With this aid the availability of spares can also be checked conveniently. This Portable Maintenance Aid will help reduce the engineer's workload and allow for the proper planning of the maintenance process based on the availability of spares and work scope.

9.0 MRO Training

Airbus has developed a virtual reality training programme called the Maintenance/Flight Training Device (MFTD). This virtual reality system can replicate an aircraft flight deck and simulate the aircraft systems and maintenance functions. The whole aircraft can also be simulated and allows the trainee to even conduct walk around inspections, look at different work areas, work on components and also remove and replace these components in a three dimensional environment.

As this simulation tool covers both the interior and exterior of the aircraft it consolidates the trainees' theoretical and practical knowledge before actually working on an aircraft. With this new virtual reality system it would allow trainees to spend less time on an actual aircraft. As this virtual training can be web based it can be done anywhere and staff can be trained at remote locations and it also gives the user access to the aircraft maintenance manual for reference.

The consequence of outsourcing more maintenance work is the shift of the product knowledge and know how from the airline to the third party MROs. If heavy maintenance is not done in-house it would not take very long for the airline to lose the depth of knowledge base and experience in maintenance.

10.0 Conclusion

The maintenance repair and overhaul activities are seen as non core activities of an airline and to keep maintenance costs under control more airlines will out source their maintenance leading to an increase in the outsourcing of maintenance repair and overhaul (MRO) in the industry. The competiveness of in-house maintenance activities will decrease due to improved value in MRO supplier proposals. There will be a globalisation of supply bases and maintenance repair and overhaul (MRO) facilities as original equipment manufacturers engage in establishing more joint ventures with airlines and major MROs to bring maintenance closer to the customer. There would be increasing costs in establishing MRO capability with newer high technology aircraft and this would lead to a consolidation of the industry with a few big players who have managed to integrate with the OEMs.

There would also be a rise in bundled asset management programmes like Boeing's GoldCare and Rolls Royce Total Care where operators have less capital investment with a shift towards supplier owned inventory.

The skills shortage in the MRO industry will not be significant as aircraft become more reliable and there would not be a need for increased manpower. This issue will also be addressed by the advanced virtual reality training for engineers and the consolidation of MRO bases where manpower will also be consolidated.

Finally an increase in the use of PMA parts can be foreseen as there would be a significant increase in aging aircraft like the B747s which will be ideal candidates for PMA parts to prove their credibility as these aircraft come to the end of their economic lives. Subsequently the use of PMA parts will catch on with other aircraft and engine types as they continue to be manufactured by OEMs with a good reputation like Pratt & Whitney.

References

AeroStrategy. The PMA parts Tsunami: Hype or reality? September 2004

Esler, David. Aviation Week. Managing your outsourced maintenance. 10th April 2008.

http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/generic/story_generic.jsp?channel=bca&id=news/bca0408p2.xml (accessed 29th May 2008)

Flight International. What will the MRO industry look like in 2018? 29th April 2008

Flight International, 787 Airlines demand GoldCare a la carte, 13th Nov 2007

Flight International, Maintenance providers ‘squeezed out' by GoldCare, 11th September 2007

Flight International, Airbus begins RFID trials, 31st July 2007

Jackman, F.Overhaul & Maintenance, MRO Spending, Unit Costs to Rise Sharply. (April 2008)

Michaels, K. Aviation Week 2007 MRO Conference & Exhibition, Air Transport MRO Market Outlook, April 2007

Overhaul & Maintenance, Managing the MRO Outsourcing Process. May 2006

Overhaul & Maintenance, Changing Structure of MRO. October 2007

Overhaul & Maintenance, The Engineering Challenge for MRO. March 2008

Shannon, D. Air Transport Intelligence News, Boeing to use 787 to launch RFID parts labelling program. 3rd October 2005