How to Oversee Aircraft Maintenance 'Work in Progress'

How can an aircraft owner help keep a maintenance project on track? JSSI's Brian Wells shares tips on the most effective ways to oversee aircraft maintenance 'Work in Progress'.

Guest Posts  |  Brian Wells  |  06th July 2020
Back to Articles
Brian Wells
Brian Wells

Brian Wells, airframe manager for the EMEAA region at Jet Support Services, Inc. (JSSI), has almost...

Cessna Citation private jet mechanic in maintenance hangar

Assuming you have completed the maintenance debrief, expectations have been delivered, ground rules laid out, and clear guidance given for what you anticipate will be a seamless maintenance event on your business aircraft.

The manpower requirements are understood, and now it’s full steam ahead. Although you are unable to maintain on-site representation for the four-week event, a clear and crisp communication process has been established with your point of contact for defect approvals and cost estimates.

At this point, you are confident nothing unexpected will come up…

‘Turbulence’ (noun)

Great commotion or agitation.

The reality is that there’s no single tried and true method to remotely monitor and manage a maintenance event. Many variables can come into play.

Do you have a long-standing relationship with your chosen MRO? If that is the case, you may have already established a trusted internal contact network and information needs are understood. The following article will depict a scenario where you work with your chosen MRO provider for the first time…

MRO Work-in-Progress Reports

A bi-weekly progress report for larger maintenance, repair and overhaul projects should normally suffice. This will provide a clear indicator for tracking financials and job progression. However, as the paying client, if you deem it appropriate to receive daily updates, you have the right to ask for it.

This is your maintenance event and the financials can swing greatly, even over the course of a day. No amount of information is too much information.

Work-in-Progress (WIP) reports come in many different formats from vendors, and they may include milestone charts, spreadsheets, and PDFs to name a few. Regardless of the format, each report will normally paint the same overall picture and present the key performance indicators outlined below.

Overall Job Progression

The WIP report will include an estimated value or ratio of completed tasks versus work remaining. Red flags should arise if, after week one of this four-week event, the value is less than 25%. A higher value is obviously preferable as history shows it can be problematic to make up time later.

Trending below the expected project completion percentage to meet your out date should trigger the following additional questions:

  1. Is there ample labor available? If not, then overtime should be requested and absorbed by the MRO if manpower requirements were clearly agreed to during the debrief process.
  2. If unanticipated defects arise, which are out of the MRO’s control, will overtime approval allow the project to be brought back in line with the expected departure date? Estimates should be provided, including potential additional costs.
  3. Do you have the flexibility to adjust the project schedule to maintain cost control and budget?

Defect Approvals

It should be noted that you, the operator, bear responsibility for providing timely feedback to the MRO. Late responses will have a cause and effect. Accordingly, you should request that any larger defects (e.g., over $2,500) are presented with cost estimates or flat rates and a percentage of task completion, if already started.

Viewing defect trends is similar to the overall job progression process. If you have been quoted $10,000 in labor for a defect and currently sit at $3,000, then your expectation should be that the defect is 30% complete. Anything less than that should raise a red flag and prompt an immediate question to the MRO.

Other considerations for defect approval include the following:

  1. Never accept the first quote. If you have the time and means, always shop for parts.
  2. Request teardown reports for questionable parts defects.
  3. Determine if this is a recurring defect. If so, provide the data to the MRO so you are not absorbing costs for maintenance actions already taken.
  4. Establish if the defect is covered under any warranty, or if there is an applicable service bulletin.

And Finally…

Stay consistent in your communications with the MRO until project completion. A lapse on either end can, and often will, cause delays that carry a financial impact. Request all labor estimates and parts quotes in writing, and create a file and cache all communications related to the event. The odds are that on larger projects you will revert back to that file on many occasions.

More information from

Do you have a specific aircraft maintenance, upgrade or repair need?

Use Advantage to outline your maintenance requirements by completing our quick form, and your enquiry will be passed to qualified service providers. Receive the feedback you need to help you choose the right partner and the best deal.
Start now

Related Articles

Brian Wells

Brian Wells

Guest Post

Brian Wells, airframe manager for the EMEAA region at Jet Support Services, Inc. (JSSI), has almost 40 years of experience in Business Aviation. He is a US Air Force veteran and former Field Service Representative with Gulfstream Aerospace. Previous roles include operations manager at PBI and Bombardier Manager at Jet Aviation Basel.



Other Articles

Need MRO Services?

Use AvBuyer’s Maintenance/ Upgrade Locator Service todayConnect now
McDonnell Douglas MD-87
Make offer
United Arab Emirates
Boeing BBJ
Make offer
Hawker 400XP
Price: USD $2,680,000
Dassault Falcon 900LX
Off market
Bombardier Challenger 605
Make offer
loder image