Aircraft Maintenance Technology

MAR 2018

The aircraft maintenance professional's source for technological advancements, maintenance alerts, news, articles, events, and careers

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COMMERCIAL MRO KEEPING PACE: NEW BUSINESS MODELS PUT AIRCRAFT MAINTENANCE CENTER STAGE The end goal is to reduce aircraft maintenance windows — the No. 1 competitive differentiator between maintenance providers By James Elliott JAMES ELLIOTT, is director, MRO Product Line at the Aviation and Defense Business Unit for IFS. With a wealth of experience spanning the airline, defense, OEM, and MRO market verticals, Elliott has worked with aviation organizations on the selection and implementation of next-generation maintenance management IT. Commercial aviation maintenance models have changed drastically over the last 20 years. New industry standards, shorter asset lifespans and a new generation of technologically advanced aircraft have constantly kept operators and maintenance providers on their toes. James Elliott, director, MRO Product Line at the Aviation and Defense Business Unit for IFS, explains how airlines and MROs need granular insight into every part of every asset as new maintenance and planning models enter the commercial aviation industry. FROM ABCD TO MSG-3 Just 20 years ago, aircraft maintenance was a rigid A, B, C, D check process based on a batch of maintenance tasks executed at specific times in an aircraft's lifecycle. When an aircraft came in for D check, there could be over 1,000 maintenance items, meaning a plane could be out of service for six weeks. Fortunately, the industry then migrated to a more flexible model, MSG-3 — packaging up individual maintenance items in any way an airline wanted. For example, if there was an opportunity to carry out D check maintenance during a C check, this could now be done. Fleet usage was optimized and balanced because maintenance could be managed more fluidly — no tasks were missed and there was no unnecessary duplication. THE 'PHASED' MAINTENANCE APPROACH New generation aircraft — such as the Boeing 787 or the Airbus A350 — have been designed with MSG3 in mind. These aircraft are now maintained with 'phased' maintenance programs with the aim of achieving the shortest possible maintenance turn-arounds. When launching the A350, Airbus aimed for the plane to be maintained under its "usage parameter" concept — based on flight hours, flight cost and other parameters rather than traditional checks — "to ensure optimized utilization of available resources." The base check interval of the A350 has extended to 36 months, meaning the average number of base checks over 12 years has halved to just four compared to previous generations of aircraft. But with fleets expanding and more routes being flown than ever before, this presents a challenge for operators as they are now looking at maintenance windows on an aircraft-by-aircraft basis. For any fleet over 100 aircraft, managing a maintenance plan and schedule for all aircraft becomes a complicated issue. SHORTER VISITS, MORE CONVENIENT TIMES Resource constraints, such as hangar availability and number of available technicians, also influences the ability to carry out maintenance. Airlines must also

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