Point of Maintenance
Streamlining the paper process for improving efficiencies in time, money and effort
By Michelle Garetson
All too often, aircraft maintenance technicians and management alike become exasperated with the speed at which events need to happen and the speed at which they actually do happen. Paperwork seems to be a usual suspect in the lineup of perpetrators that inhibit progress. Fortunately, given the technologies now available and those being designed and developed for the future, aircraft maintenance and all of its trappings are being finessed into a steady stream of efficiency that was lacking with an intensive paper process. Electronic logbooks and signatures are becoming more prevalent and the FAA is moving toward a unified acceptance of this technology. (Please see sidebar on pg. 77).
Moving a paper process to an electronic process can be a daunting task; however, a maintenance shop doesn’t have to buy high-end servers, computers, and software and hire several IT (Information Technology) personnel to reap the benefits of time-saving technology.
Bringing data to the point of maintenance. Frontier's technicians have access to everything right at the aircraft.
Do you just need to have the technical publications and regulatory data more readily available to the people on the floor? Many documents are on CD-ROMs as well as the Internet and can be accessed on a laptop computer or PC. The time and money saved from having data located at the point of maintenance, as opposed to the various quadrants of the shop, might well offer a quick return on investment for the product purchase.
To find out if such an upgrade would be a benefit to your operations, consider a time study of personnel’s trips to the maintenance library or the parts department in a day to validate the price of the software and hardware necessary to bring things to the point of maintenance. Time spent traipsing to and from various stations means time away from the task at hand, and the ones to follow — resulting in higher labor costs and time costs. Discovering that it takes 15 minutes to accomplish ancillary tasks such as data research and follow-up, parts ordering, tracking, and pickup, could mean a lot to an operation — especially when faced with half-hour turnarounds.
Digital and Electronic Signatures
In July 2001, the FAA released a Handbook Bulletin for Air Transportation HBAT-01-06 – Recordkeeping, Digital, and Electronic Signatures; OpSpec A025; Order: 8400.10, Appendix 3. This bulletin provides updated guidance on the acceptance and use of digital and electronic signatures and on applying electronic technology to electronic recordkeeping. This guidance is applicable to certificate holders conducting operations under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) Parts 121, 125, 135.
In an effort to comply with the Government Paperwork Elimination Act, which was enacted in 1998, the FAA has developed internal procedures to provide for "the option of electronic maintenance, submission, or disclosure of information as a substitute for paper, when practicable as well as for the use and acceptance of electronic signatures, when practicable."The FAA hopes that "acceptance of digital and electronic signatures will encourage the use of electronic recordkeeping and document transfer, to comply with record retention and record entry requirements because records may be authenticated using a digital and/or electronic signature."
The bulletin also offers guidelines for approval or acceptance for computer-based recordkeeping, legal requirements of electronic signing, and which digital signatures and certificates are acceptable to the FAA. Definitions of digital signatures and electronic signatures are also included as there are distinct differences.
For more information regarding electronic signatures and FAA acceptance of these and other electronic records, please contact Mr. Tom Penland, AFS-260 at (202) 267-3764 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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