Value for Money: Choosing the right maintenance program for your operations

Value for Money Choosing the right maintenance program for your operations By Bill de Decker September 2000 Aircraft maintenance is expensive. On average it consumes about 25 percent of the total budget and for many operators, it is...


MSG-3 maintenance concept
MSG stands for Maintenance Steering Group and the "3" refers to the fact that this is the third set of recommendations published since the original MSG recommendations in the late 60's. These original recommendations came about with the advent of the commercial jet age. Simply put, what happened was that the airline industry realized that many of their maintenance practices were too expensive, required too much downtime, and in some cases, actually contributed to premature failures. The airline industry's response was to put together a "Maintenance Steering Group" whose task it was to perform an in-depth examination of all the maintenance processes used to keep the aircraft safe, airworthy and earning money for their companies. The principle they adopted was to establish maintenance intervals based on actual equipment performance rather than manufacturer's design specifications. And, it is a logical basis on which to develop maintenance schedules that will yield the highest level of safety and reliability at the least cost.
This process, which involves the manufacturers, the airlines, and the FAA, is done under the auspices of the Airline Transport Association (ATA) and has resulted in three sets of recommendations - MSG 1 in 1968; MSG 2, which was a refinement of MSG 1 in 1970; and the current MSG 3. MSG 3 represented a major advance in the thinking employed in this process and focuses on a concept called Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM). The original MSG 3 recommendations were published in 1980. The last revision was published in 1993. The goal of MSG 3 is to increase aircraft availability (ie decrease maintenance down days) and reduce costs by eliminating unnecessary inspections and optimizing inspection intervals - all without compromising safety.
Currently, new airline aircraft almost all use the MSG 3 approach to minimize maintenance costs and maintenance down days and it has resulted in significant decreases in maintenance costs for the airlines. That's the good news. The bad news is that most business jet aircraft use the older, more expensive MSG 2 guidelines and philosophy. There are a few business aircraft that use MSG 3. These aircraft, which include the Gulfstream V, the Global Express and the Challenger 604, show maintenance costs to be between 20 percent and 40 percent less than their direct predecessors.
What will it take to get these cost reduction tools for your aircraft? First recognize that the process requires everyone's cooperation, as well as a major investment in time and money by all involved. Second, it is important for the manufacturers to know that this is really important to the success of your operation. And third, support the trade associations, such as the NBAA Maintenance Committee, that are working hard to make it happen.

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