We have all had to call a plumber, electrician, or some other trained serviceman to come and address a problem with our home air-conditioning system, dishwasher, or other appliance. The trained serviceman arrived in a van equipped with all the necessary tools, equipment, and hopefully, the right parts. After some troubleshooting, the problem was corrected and the repairman was off to the next call. Now, take that same concept, and apply it to expensive corporate aircraft. This may be the beginning of a major change in how corporate aviation engines and APUs are maintained.
Dallas Airmotive is one company that is leading the trend. It is adding its third mobile service unit. Dallas Airmotive manages the engine and APU business for BBA Aviation. The BBA Aviation family of companies employs more than 10,000 people while providing flight support and aftermarket services and systems in 11 countries on five continents. BBA Aviation’s Aftermarket Services and Systems business includes overhauling jet engines, supplying aircraft parts, and the design, manufacture, and overhauling of landing gear, aircraft hydraulics, and other aircraft equipment.
The AOG mobile service vehicle is a new way for customers and service providers to interact face to face. Further, this new service approach supports the modular design of engines and APU, and provides round-the-clock availability that meets the needs of global customers. This type of maintenance service will surely up what is expected from aviation maintenance technicians. Service at plane side will require AMTs to have new skills, since customers, FAA agents, and other parties may participate in the maintenance event. This close interaction will require the AMT to demonstrate excellent technical, communication, and customer service skills. I wanted to hear the back story for Dallas Airmotive’s AOG mobile service units and discuss the different AMT skill requirements in more detail.
According to Chris Pratt, director of marketing and strategic planning for engine repair and overhaul, “The AOG mobile service concept and strategy was an easy call.” This is an evolution of service that is currently provided by Dallas Airmotive’s four overhaul facilities and 11 regional turbine service centers that are FAA certified and accepted by EASA. With a global footprint and around-the-clock service already in place, bringing AOG’s unscheduled and scheduled maintenance service to plane side was not a hard sell.
It has been a four-year effort to build, and is still a work-in-progress, according to Jeff Clarke, national APU sales and service engineer, who has a true passion for this effort. It was the responsibility of Clarke and Mark Russo to turn AOG from concept into an effective and profitable operation, a considerable challenge given today’s competitive aviation service sector.
Clarke and his team had other challenges as well, including overcoming the “we have tried that before, but it wasn’t successful” mindset, along with changing the paradigm in their large, successful company from a “back shop, overhaul” service model to a “field service” approach. The team succeeded due to the combination of good timing and smart strategies. Good timing thanks to the modular design of today’s modern turbine engines and APUs, which are compatible with the onsite maintenance concept. Smart strategies included input from OEMs, customers, and the FAA, identifying that the corporate aviation sector was ready for this new approach.
Rolling repair shop
The mobile service vehicle has to be as capable as any physical repair shop for the specific engine task at hand. It has to be a rolling repair shop and parts warehouse, while contending with serious weight restrictions and limited space. With the help of other Dallas Airmotive experts, Clarke and his team analyzed the maintenance and repair processes, developing specifications for the mobile shop. The vehicle contains just the right amount of required items and nothing more. All required tools and equipment are calibrated and certified to manual specification, and powered by an onboard generator and air compressor. To make the most of space, it stocks only the number and types of LRUs and spars required for onsite maintenance. The IPC, maintenance manuals, service bulletins, and other documentation are available via laptop and CD-ROMs.
Pre-positioned mobile response vehicles and technicians at two of the high traffic business aviation airports.
The vehicle will be fully equipped to perform on-site engine diagnosis and repair including hot section inspection of Honeywell APU units and module exchange for Rolls-Royce 250 series engines.