Previously, Aviation Director Andre Fodor discussed how our industry can improve the level of jet maintenance service to meet the expectations of corporate aviators and managers. This month he discusses the processes he’s honed on the job to get top maintenance service…
Corporate aviators and managers are people with acute and peculiar priorities.
We’re hyper-focused on our airplanes and spend copious time making sure they are perfect and capable of delivering ultimate service and reliability. In short, corporate aviators and managers stand apart, setting the bar at the highest level and settling for nothing less.
The first large cabin jet that I managed was a variant of an airliner. As I structured its operation, I had the engines enrolled in the manufacturer’s 'power-by-the-hour' program for a very comprehensive and inclusive coverage.
It can only be described as unfortunate that after a few months of use, one of those engines required removal for the repair and the replacement of the fuel metering unit. As we reviewed the paperwork prior to the re-installation of the engine, we noticed that the “new” part had 18,000 hours of previous use and more than 24,000 cycles!
How did that happen?
It turned out that since our engine type was also used on airliners, the manufacturer saw fit to pick the replacement part from its rotating parts pool and deemed it ok to install this highly-used part on a 100-hours engine installed on a very new multi-million dollar business jet!
Anyone reading this will undoubtedly consider such a solution unacceptable, yet the engine manufacturer failed to spot the problem!
I could understand that both the airlines and we – the corporate operators – have common goals: that is to dispatch the aircraft reliably. Yet the commonality diverges quickly from there, owing to completely different standards. The airlines are emotionally detached from their aircraft while we, as corporate aviators, are not.
It took a great deal of discussion and some strong arm-twisting to remedy the problem with the manufacturer, but in the end I got my original part re-installed after it was repaired.
Tips for Picking your Shop
The above experience highlights our discussion - that when choosing a maintenance provider you should not only be focused on establishing a long-term relationship, but establishing that relationship with people who understand the sensitivities of your operation and priorities.
To achieve this, I have found that a close look at the leadership of that organization is very helpful. Mandates for excellence within that MRO organization will radiate from the top, down. Without the full commitment of those in charge - with no golden standard to test itself against - the labor force becomes disenfranchised.
I recently took one of our large cabin jets for a full re-paint. This included striping it down to bare metal before a new sleek paint scheme I had designed was applied. Selection of the paint shop took effort on my part, and in making my final choice I took into account how effectively I could communicate with the project manager; how quickly I received my answers; and how organized the flow of information was presented.
With such a big project ahead, I wanted to ensure that our selection not only had the technical expertise but the organizational skills to meet or exceed our expectation.
To my surprise, from all of the serious contenders, no one proposed additional work to our aircraft! With a customer not shy of spending a quarter-million-dollars on a re-paint, wouldn’t you offer additional services that would not delay completion of the project (perhaps a re-stitch or a color dye of the seats)?
Our due diligence paid off – we found an excellent match for the job. After my initial consultation with the team that would be working on our jet, I presented the paint rendition and asked, “What can we do to make this better?”
To my delight, the seasoned group of painters held nothing back as we spent hours tweaking and redesigning details that added value and experience to our design and excellence to the finished product.
There is nothing worse then passing up valuable knowledge – and that applies to the maintenance of your jet. Yet, tapping the knowledge of trusted experts does not release me from my responsibility of making final and complex decisions related to the upkeep of the jet within my flight department!
Nevertheless, as I matured in my management skills, I developed a habit to trust people 100%, and adjusting from there, as appropriate. To help me attune that trust level, I insist in hearing insights that help me make the right choices.
Perhaps you have your own methods you’ve honed and developed to meet or exceed on your jet maintenance expectations? If so, I’d love to hear from you! Pooled knowledge helps us all perform our duties within the flight department better…