Each mobile service vehicle is staffed by a dedicated maintenance team, ready 24/7. Pratt verifies that the AMTs need to have both strong interpersonal and excellent technical skills, and that “there was significant internal competition for these positions.” The current AMTs on the mobile service vehicle have between 25 to 30 years of experience working in overhaul and regional centers. They are cross trained on a variety of engine types and series, are NDT qualified, and can do anything on the vehicle except unstack the rotation assembly and split the gearbox. Pratt also states that “the technicians on the mobile service vehicle are public relationship professionals and ambassadors of the company.” They get audited by the FAA, spot checked by the customers, and frequently have flight crews watching them work.
A day in the life
An example is technician Karl Holton who was at Dulles wrapping up a service bulletin job on a Challenger 300 owned by a major oil company. Holton’s job was to change out the carbon seal on a Honeywell, 150 BD APU. The customer’s technicians removed and replaced the APU, while Holton’s job was to replace the seal and perform the maintenance manual required run outs, pressure, and vibration checks. Holton then helped the customer’s technicians reinstall the unit, and waited on the functional and ops checks. It took about a day and a half to complete the job, making it Holton’s 25th seal change this year. When asked how he liked working the mobile service vehicle, his first response: “I like it a lot because you get to meet so many great people. I also have the opportunity to travel and learn about different airframes.” Holton says that there is pressure because on many jobs he is working with customers looking on. There is no room for mistakes.
On this particular job, the customer’s head of the flight department spent considerable time monitoring the maintenance activity. When asked how he deals with the pressure, he attributes his 18 years of shop experience and support from Dallas Airmotive. He states that the AOG mobile vehicle concept “was supported by everyone from CEO Hugh McElroy on down. I think the company is fully committed to this service. They provide all the necessary tools and equipment, and send us to school so that we stay current on the different APUs and engines. I have been to four Honeywell schools this year.”
There are three AOG mobile vehicles in active service that are qualified and authorized to perform both scheduled and unscheduled engine and APU maintenance. This service and the vehicle appear to be a hit. When the Dallas Airmotive mobile service vehicle arrives plane-side, there is always a successful maintenance solution. Repairs or replacement usually take one to two days. In addition to being a support shop the vehicle is self-marketing. Whenever and wherever it stops, the curious soon appear.
Customers and OEMs like Honeywell especially like the concept, because generally an APU shutdown comes as an unwelcome surprise to the owners and operators. There is not much APU instrumentation in the cockpit, and the units usually pick up FOD or their performance deteriorates to the point that the crews notice slow or failed engine starts. The flight crews swear this always happens in those faraway places.
It is a safe bet that the industry and Dallas Airmotive will continue to grow this type of service. With corporate traffic rebounding, locations will be determined by the proximity of existing repair facilities and the number of aircraft or traffic in a particular location.
Parent company, BBA Aviation ERO president Hugh McElroy states, “AOG mobile response vehicles help extend the reach of our field service organization and regional turbine centers.
The advantages of our mobile service are numerous including lower repair costs, less downtime, no aircraft repositioning expense, and no rental engine requirement. As we implement our long-term strategy of moving deeper into regional services, we’ll continue to add vehicles and, where appropriate, regional turbine centers in order to provide local, quick response service to operators.” Mobile service may indicate a new direction in the place and manner maintenance will be performed.
Charles Chandler is AMT’s Field Editor. He received his A&P from Spartan College of Aeronautics.
Curb Side Maintenance Service
It appears that there is a new trend underway in the corporate aviation maintenance. Now industry services giants like Dallas Airmotive provide maintenance not only at their service centers, but at the customer’s front door. OEMs like Cessna Aircraft and Bombardier have joined in. Cessna is extending this service to plane side with a concept called ServiceDirect. This is a business strategy to support the growing market for general aviation in Europe, Asia, the Mid East, and Africa.
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.