Without maintenance, business aircraft break down, stop working as needed, and force operators to call the MRO shop for a repair. Ideally repair visits occur infrequently, but breakdowns seldom occur at a convenient time or location.
When something breaks on the company airplane and it can fly no further without repair, the aircraft becomes embroiled in an Aircraft on the Ground (AOG) scenario, which may require an MRO or Manufacturer’s mobile repair team to come to the aircraft to restore its functionality.
The faster a repair team can reach the aircraft and make the needed repair, the sooner it can return to service.
Who Should Undertake Aircraft Repair Work?
It is important to have the right person make repairs to your aircraft. While it can be natural for operators to turn to the airframe and powerplant (A&P) mechanic who handles the aircraft's routine maintenance, they are probably not the best choice here…
For aircraft repairs, experience counts. The best choice for who should repair your aircraft is either the factory that built it, or a service center experienced in your make and model aircraft.
While an on-staff A&P will be familiar with the airplane, an MRO shop specialized in the aircraft make and model often has experience performing maintenance that is rarely performed by the average A&P mechanic. Specialized knowledge and specialized tools are more likely to be available at the specialty MRO center.
And where aircraft repair is concerned, it can be best to accept a slower shop with more expertise than a less experienced shop that promises a faster fix.
What Does Aircraft Repair Cover?
Aircraft repair is a vast area and can take many different forms. For example, replacing the brakes on a business aircraft's main landing gear may vary from one airplane to another, but the basics are similar.
Regardless of the system that has failed, the maintenance technician will need to follow the manufacturer's procedures as well as the Federal Aviation Regulations (FARs) governing aircraft repairs.
What are Some Common Aircraft Repairs?
Bird strikes: Extreme examples of bird strike damage occur only rarely. Less extreme examples are relatively common, however. According to FAA, aircraft in the US suffered more than 13,000 bird strike events in 2018.
Common damage requiring repair include damaged windscreens, wing and empennage leading-edge damage, damaged lift struts, propeller blades and inlet-fan damage on turbine engines. All can require repair in order to be legal to return to service.
Foreign-Object Damage (FOD): FOD occurs when a propeller blade sucks up a rock, bolt or nut (for example) which nicks the propeller blade. FOD can also occur to wing and tail leading edges and may require complicated sheet-metal to repair.
Blown Tires: A locked brake disc can cause a landing-gear tire to overheat and rupture, requiring immediate replacement. Brake problems can also occur for reasons as varied as ice freezing the disc calipers, under-inflated or over-inflated tires, or from FOD puncturing the tire.
Pressurization Valve Malfunction: Most business aircraft fly at altitudes high enough to extract maximum speed and fuel efficiency from the powerplants and require a pressurization system enabling passengers and crew to breathe without using supplemental oxygen.
The valve that modulates cabin pressure can malfunction or fail for a variety of reasons, including failed control mechanisms or ice accretion preventing it from functioning properly. Business aircraft repair work on-site can often restore the lost functionality. If not, the aircraft would have to restrict its altitude according to a ferry permit from the FAA.