What is the Best Aircraft Maintenance Tracking Software?

Several maintenance tracking software programs are available for business aircraft operators to choose from. But market leaders exist, for several reasons. Chris Kjelgaard finds out why…

Chris Kjelgaard  |  11th January 2024
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    Chris Kjelgaard
    Chris Kjelgaard

    Chris Kjelgaard has been an aviation journalist for more than 40 years and has written on multiple topics...

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    Do you know the best aircraft maintenance tracking software

    In today’s operating environment, business aircraft are sophisticated and highly complex machines which for safety reasons are subject to a vast body of airworthiness and operational regulations. That makes choosing the right maintenance tracking software all the more important…

    Among the most vital of aviation regulations are those imposed by airworthiness regulatory authorities. In many cases those regulations stem from, and mandate compliance with, recommendations issued by aircraft and engine manufacturers the safe operating lives and operational limits of parts and components.

    It is incumbent upon business aircraft operators to ensure they and their aircraft remain compliant with those airworthiness regulations. Otherwise, the aircraft are not legally allowed to fly.

    Keeping abreast of, and in compliance with the myriad airworthiness regulations and operational limits covering many parts of an aircraft and its engines is a very difficult task, which is where maintenance tracking software comes in.

    Nowadays a maintenance tracking program – the particular software suite depending on each operator’s individual preference - is an essential tool for most aircraft operators.

    At a minimum, an operator’s choice of software should allow it to know exactly when the next scheduled maintenance events for each of its aircraft and engines are due to take place.

    At the same time the maintenance tracking program can show exactly how many flight cycles every aircraft’s or engine’s life limited parts (LLPs) have remaining before requiring replacement.

    The software does this by updating the numbers of flight cycles and hours the aircraft and each of its life limited parts have accumulated each time the aircraft lands to complete a flight.

    In most cases a mechanic needs to input the information about the time elapsed in the aircraft’s latest flight, though some programs can do it automatically upon receiving the pilot’s report upon landing.

    What Maintenance Tracking Software Should Offer

    To be properly functional, even basic maintenance tracking software should be able to do more than track the maintenance tasks which are coming due on the aircraft, says Shane Eisler, Director of Maintenance for Satcom Direct.

    “At a minimum, it should be able to portray the maintenance coming due – but another thing that is absolutely necessary is to track all part and component serial numbers.”

    Additionally, highlighting and showing the time requirements for completing Airworthiness Directive (AD) actions “is a very, very important feature – and you need to be able to look in the [aircraft’s] history and categorize your different components and inspections,” he emphasizes.

    Sean Lynch, Managing Director of Engine Assurance Program, says that maintenance tracking software must be able to track every individual LLP for the airframe and engines, all engine and APU parts, and all airframe calendar and hourly-timed parts. The software should also be able to track every ‘on condition’ part, too.

    In part that is because an aircraft’s maintenance history, as recorded and monitored by the tracking software used, “is a very robust part of the resale value,” says Lynch. “It equalizes everything for anyone coming in off the street. It gives certainty” regarding an aircraft’s maintenance condition and history to anyone buying a used aircraft.

    For instance, a potential buyer will want to know the maintenance condition and history of the aircraft’s engine starter. “You will want to see the [FAA Form] 8130-3 for when it was produced and whether it is new, overhauled or repaired,” he says. The Form 8130-3 is the FAA Authorized Release Certificate allowing an Airworthiness Approval Tag to be tied to the component.

    Lynch notes that the comprehensive maintenance history provided by a recognized, quality maintenance tracking program allows a potential buyer to do away with the logbook review and maintenance audit that the pre-purchase inspection would otherwise call for.

    So important is that coverage for an aircraft nowadays that “if it’s not on a maintenance tracking program, run for the hills,” he says.

    John Kummer, Senior Vice President, Flight and Programs for Satcom Direct, is of similar mind regarding maintenance tracking software. “In any purchase transaction, having read-only access to that plane’s maintenance software and all the history of the airplane provides a great insight to the buyer,” he says.

    Continue reading this article in the January digital edition of AvBuyer, here.

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