Best Practices in Airline Maintenance Management

Since 9/11, outsourcing has proven to be one of the most reliable and cost effective solutions to maintenance. As a result, many airlines are re-evaluating how they perform maintenance on ground support equipment, passenger boarding bridges, baggage handling systems and facilities. Airlines are finding that the right service provider can substantially lower costs, increase equipment life and improve uptime performance. However, a successful transition requires more than just the right team. FMC's experience in this area shows that maintenance managers can increase their chances of long-term improvement by laying the groundwork through incorporating these best practices:


Management system implementation is critical. Many maintenance managers and outsource providers utilize a Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) for work order management. However, properly evaluating contractor performance requires additional skills. Select a service provider that has experience utilizing an in-depth CMMS system, which manages data and provides advanced reporting. Ask prospective providers for examples of effective data reporting and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) that give management a dashboard to performance. You will be able to manage your daily work schedule at a glance and in short order with daily reports that provide drill down capability detailing equipment uptime results, contractor effi ciency and highlight unusual activity or cost overruns. Performance ratings can be set and used to incentivize contractors to reach higher levels of performance throughout a contracts life, keeping you in the driver's seat.


Fleet monitoring with retrieving real-time data on both equipment and employee performance has been a goal of operations managers for years. After September 11th, many of these projects were shelved due to the high cost and uncertain Return on Investment (ROI). Five years later, both hardware and implementation costs have fallen dramatically, just as the capabilities of the systems have improved with the advent of cellular broadband and highly efficient portable computing. Selecting a services provider that has the capability to implement and operate these systems will minimize your out-of-pocket costs and maximize your ROI.


The old way of doing business was to manage as many as four or five service providers, all with different management structures, programs, contracts, bonding capabilities and levels of customer commitment. Today, several companies offer service packages specifi cally tailored to airline needs: GSE, gate equipment, baggage handling and terminal maintenance, even off-airport locations such as reservation centers training centers and maintenance hangars. Key service providers continue to expand their core capabilities to match customer needs. Combining services traditionally performed by multiple players gives maintenance managers several key advantages:

  • Negotiating leverage increases substantially based upon your contract size - the economy of scale clearly points to relatively less overhead costs for your service provider, sometimes up to 10 percent of contract value.
  • Management control by a consolidated package ensures effective and efficient performance, resulting in significant savings to the owner's bottom line.
  • One point of contact for all maintenance needs over the course of the contract, reducing complication and time spent in contract administration.
  • Larger service providers deliver continuous managerial, organizational and human resources support, thus enhancing operational and personnel safety. Also, be sure to watch out for employee technical training by a dedicated staff.