Aircraft Accidents and the Moving of Maintenance

Aircraft Maintenance is like the forgotten son of the aviation industry. Any improvements made by pilots, no matter how small, are always heralded by air operators, while Aircraft Maintenance has to jump up and down in orange neon to be noticed. One of the goals of my blog is to shine – at times – a light on the accomplishments of mechanics and maintenance in particular.
Last week I read an article in Aviation Week that spoke to some money saving proactive thinking on part of Maintenance:
The article spoke about two airlines that are based across the Atlantic: SunExpress, a Turkish airline based out of Antalya airport in Turkey; and Aer Lingus, an Irish airline based in Dublin, Ireland. They are working with Boeing to redesign their heavy ‘C’ check workcards; moving maintenance that would normally restrict an airliner to the hangar for a long heavy check and repositioning it to line maintenance duties. This will cut down the downtime an airliner must have for heavy maintenance, while guaranteeing safety is not compromised.
What this means to the airline is better utilization of its equipment with improvements in customer demand; the aircraft can be spending more time flying passengers or cargo with less hangar time. But the better part is – from a maintenance perspective – is that less work is being contracted out and assuring more in-house opportunities for the airlines’ employees, namely mechanics.
Line maintenance is an airline’s front line of defense against delays and unexpected aircraft break-downs. But all airlines, whether they fly passengers during the day or a cargo airline that exploits the night, have down times where the aircraft sit for hours, where time for maintenance is available so it can best be accomplished. Reorganizing the task cards associated with heavy checks to line maintenance affords the airlines’ mechanics job security and possible overtime to meet the new assignment of work – more work, more pay for employees.
And the side caveat is that those who bemoan contractors taking work from the airlines’ mechanics will benefit from these changes because the more work done on the line, the less work is given to the contractors. And the airline is smiling because they can utilize the aircraft more without sacrificing airworthiness.
That’s enough to make anyone stand up and take notice of Maintenance.

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