Let’s assume you have selected an aircraft maintenance provider, and your project is set to commence in the coming weeks. An input and delivery date has been established and all that is left for you to do is deliver the aircraft to the facility to carry out the work-scope...
You have received and signed the quote, established a facility contact and will return at the end of the four-week maintenance period to pick up the keys and fly off to your next destination. Simple, right?
An imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect.
How to Avoid a Negative Maintenance Situation
Unfortunately, negative aircraft maintenance situations are frequently encountered due to the lack of an upfront process with the selected vendor. However, there are several steps operators can take to avoid these unnecessary complications and ensure a successful maintenance event.
Participating in a detailed debrief, managing expectations, and continuous follow-ups are all key. Spending an hour or so in an input delivery meeting with the relevant shops performing the maintenance can ultimately save weeks of heartache.
Following are a few tips to help drive a seamless maintenance event:
- Debrief. As the paying customer, the debrief is your stage to set expectations for all the disciplines working on your asset, including mechanical, avionics, paint, refurbishment and engineering. It is important to ensure that all disciplines related to your input are represented.
- Manpower. Does the selected MRO have the allotted capability to carry out your workscope? Having onsite representation offers several key advantages. It means you will have direct visibility in real-time to oversee resources, ensure milestone completions and secure immediate defect approval. Most importantly, MROs are unlikely to shift manpower off your project to others they deem to be a 'higher priority'. For those without this capability, upfront directives should be established and achievement standards set. It is crucial to meet and develop a relationship with the crew lead because effective communications for defect approval will be key. If this is not an option for you, independent maintenance event management services are available from other companies, including JSSI, that have existing relationships with maintenance facilities in place to assist you.
- Overtime. Always request that the MRO seek your overtime approval before proceeding. It is likely that overtime will be required for defects that arise late in a project but, if communicated properly by the MRO, there should be few, if any surprises at the end.
- Defect Rectification. Each defect has a detailed storyline and the corrective action marks the end of that process. The MRO should not be given carte blanche authority for troubleshooting and rectifying along the way. It is fair and reasonable to request an estimated man-hour requirement for each defect, with a follow-on approval or denial. If there is any ambiguity, you can ask for supporting maintenance manual data. If you are overseeing the event remotely, you should request all the data you can absorb, including photos, video and maintenance manual requirements.
- Materials and Parts. Set a pricing cap for any parts you allow the MRO to purchase on your behalf. If you have the means, you can shop around for parts, but keep in mind that handling fees may still be applied.
- WIP (Work in Progress) Reports. At a minimum, you should request a biweekly WIP report. Although it is not practical to have a 24-hour physical presence, this report will at least provide a clear indication of how the project is proceeding. A WIP report should include task hours expended and percentage of completion (i.e., the milestones hit). This is your opportunity to influence course correction when certain items are trending in a negative fashion.
These tips should give you a solid foundation for a successful maintenance shop visit. Always remember that you, as the certificate holder and paying customer, control the process. Most importantly, failure to keep a fluid communication process can lead an event to quickly spiral out of control, both financially and in terms of downtime.
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