- 28 Dec 2020
- Rebecca Applegarth
- Aircraft MRO
ABS Jets' Chief Technical Officer, Vladimir Šíp, provides an overview of the complexities of business jet maintenance, helping explain why good quality maintenance is as expensive as it is, and why it is advisable to be very wary of cutting costs.
In one sense, it is understandable that aircraft owners and operators would seek the most economical maintenance solutions. Minimizing costs is a prudent business practice. But, most would agree that cost and safety are not equal players in the same game...
Putting passenger safety in jeopardy to save on a few cents is unwise. So it becomes crucial that MRO providers listen to their clients’ needs and find reasonable and balanced solutions.
For example, ABS Jets can offer incentive packages if customers use our services for a number of scheduled inspections, and this helps them reduce costs over time.
We are often approached by clients who ask that we ignore issues not related to aircraft airworthiness. Cleaning services are a good example. Many customers are only willing to pay for the cleaning of an affected area.
However, we will always recommend cleaning the nearby areas, too. Why? Because it helps prevent impurities from spreading to an already-checked area in the near-future.
It is also good practice to quickly check areas that are not strictly required for review under the maintenance program (e.g. landing gear wheel wells, or wing trailing edges where the control mechanisms for flight controls are usually located).
Those areas are most affected by accumulated moisture and dirt from daily operations in any environment or weather conditions.
Customers do not always realize that neglecting these details can lead to more serious issues in the future, costing them a fortune. It is also better to correct these issues as much as possible while the aircraft is grounded for a scheduled inspection, than to ground the aircraft several times for minor defects, interrupting regular operations with unscheduled maintenance.
Beware Maintenance Providers Bearing Cheap Discounts!
Continuing Airworthiness Management Organization (CAMO) engineers who collect quotes from various MRO facilities play a crucial role in maintenance deals. Communication between engineers and aircraft owner representatives should be open and transparent.
Unfortunately, unofficial agreements between operators and MRO facilities do occur. While these types of agreement benefit both parties, they do not benefit the aircraft owner or the other MRO facilities.
Operators receive incentives from their respective MRO facilities. We advise a cautious approach to suspiciously cheap man-hour rates or discounts which are reimbursed on the final invoice. The discount comes first, and the actual bill later – meaning that the client may be surprised when they receive the final invoice.
That’s not to say that all discounts mask poor maintenance standards or hidden costs. Some are undoubtedly rational. Even in the Business Aviation MRO world, we go through quiet periods. Slots in months with low demand are more likely to be sold when discounts are offered. Discounts can also help reduce the costs for materials and labor outside peak periods.
Nevertheless, reputable MRO service centers should be transparent.
ABS Jets provides a realistic initial price, rather than a vague quote that leads to big surprises at the end of the inspection. Customers should expect to see the total investment right from the start.
Using the example of an Embraer Legacy 600/650, several of these aircraft are now aging and we are seeing increased costs for hidden details. Unfortunately, this can quickly increase the final bill. However, ABS Jets communicates with the client and discusses the non-airworthiness issues or items which can be safely postponed (e.g. interior or cosmetic issues), helping save costs.
Aircraft Maintenance: Pay Now, or Pay More Later…
Cutting corners and costs on your aircraft’s maintenance is a safety gamble. ABS Jets is both a service maintenance centre and flight operator. We are certified to service various aircraft models, including Embraer Legacy 600/650.
We operate six of these aircraft and service them in-house, maintaining and applying the same quality standards whether it is our aircraft or not. Our technicians are trained not to differentiate quality, but to apply quality standards uniformly, across the entire client base.
This also makes it easy for us to spot a badly maintained aircraft. Unfortunately, we have seen several bad maintenance jobs done on aircraft.
For example, a few years ago we received an aircraft at our facility for its regular six-monthly inspection, which is usually a quick and easy check to undertake. The previous inspection on this particular jet had been a scheduled heavy maintenance C-check, performed by another service center outside Europe.
While a six-monthly check usually only takes up to four days to complete, that was not the case with this aircraft. Several tasks from the C-check had been neglected or omitted, leading to the ground-time being extended, and the final invoice exceeding all expectation.
The client was unhappy and shocked, but had taken a gamble by selecting the cheapest quote for the C-check. In this case, the gamble cost them dearly – they paid more later.
How to Identify a Qualified MRO Center
If you want to stay on top of your game, you cannot afford to get lazy about your achievements. You need to invest in your employees – especially in training.
At ABS Jets, we continuously strive for employee development. We keep our staff current, continually developing their skills, and provide regular training on safety, quality and effectiveness. We exceed the regulatory requirements for staff training, and our certifying staff members receive non-regulatory engine run-up training on a simulator, in cooperation with our flight department.
Development of our training programs is also crucial. Assisted by the safety department, a dedicated training manager, and internal mentoring programs, we stay effective and keep costs to a minimum.
The invaluable experience gained by the team comes not only from involvement in inspections, but also through troubleshooting and the lengthy preparations required for inspection.
High success rates and flawless assessments are the result of teamwork between various Business Aviation experts (planners, logisticians, technicians, etc.), and is a synergy which can only function when all of the team members are prepared.
We shouldn’t overlook maintenance support between scheduled inspections, either. Line maintenance is an essential service which clients should consider as an investment. Regular pre-flight and post-flight aircraft checks help prevent small issues from becoming large, expensive problems.
More information from ABS Jets
Vladimir Šíp is the Chief Technical Officer at
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