Creating a specification sheet will help compare apples to apples
While you have everyone together, it's a good time to develop a specific list of what will be done to the aircraft during the project. Murray explains, "One of the inherent problems that we have to live with on the refurb side is inequities in the bidding process. Particularly, you can be at a disadvantage if you don't have all of the information and the customer is not asking for the same thing from each refurb center. Or conversely, the refurbishment centers are not offering exactly the same thing in their bid."
Also, be sure to accurately represent the condition of the aircraft and allow for unexpected repairs. A lot of times what will happen is that the information that is provided doesn't represent what's actually on the airplane, and that throws a wrench into the equation.
"In a perfect world, someone would build a very specific bid package and then all of the operators would bid on that specific package," Murray says.
Put your ducks in a row
David Kitchings, corporate strategist for McKinney says that the next most important thing that maintenance should do before they take their airplane to a refurb center is to have all of their paperwork and maintenance records together for the inspection department.
"They need to have electrical plans along with any changes since they purchased the airplane and back to new or completion if they can. These plans will provide electrical load analysis and schematics that are needed. Also, all flight logs, listing of avionics equipment in the aircraft, and even items that were removed from the aircraft - anything that an engineering firm or engineering department would need to satisfy the FAA during the completion process," he says.
Absence of these items will mean higher costs for the refurbishment project. It makes it difficult for the refurb center to complete a project when they have to go back to the OEM and spend time researching records. "We have even had instances where we've had to have an engineering team come in and create new electrical load analysis or schematics. This can add substantially to time and cost."
Murray adds, "We've also had aircraft in here where it's been three weeks before we can get the electrical prints. That will put us behind schedule from the start."
Plan necessary maintenance
If you have any inclination at all that you are going to do maintenance work or inspections or bulletins or paint, or anything outside of the refurb workscope while the aircraft is down, let that refurb center know so that everyone can coordinate that project.
Arrange an extended visit toward the end
Finally, Murray says, "We like to encourage the participation of the chief of maintenance for the operator as much as possible, but it's not necessary to babysit the aircraft during the entire job. Instead, we recommend they come in occasionally during the refurb so they can answer important questions and get them resolved so the project keeps moving. Also, it's valuable towards the end of the project for them to see how the interior goes together so they get familiar with the location of components and power supplies, etc., that may be hidden by interior materials or cabinetry. This can be very educational and help them a great deal so they know how to remove and install components or how to access power supplies and such."
This last three to four weeks should be considered a "training session" that is invaluable for the maintenance crew. Murray says it's also useful to take photos, for future reference, of key access areas and key components.
"Communication is really the key point," he says, "and we try to provide tools such as flow charts and production schedules to let our customers know when things are happening and when we expect things from them."
A new concept in completions
The kit-built interior
In the last couple of years, a new concept has emerged in interior completions. The concept is a pre-manufactured kit that is ready to install.
Two examples of these kits that are available are from Nordam in Tulsa, OK, and B/E Aerospace in Miami, FL.
Both Nordam and B/E use a mock-up or "jig" into which the interiors are assembled and precisely fit prior to even touching the aircraft.
Nordam provides these kits only to specific manufacturers at this time, but B/E has taken a different approach and has pre-approved the kit for installation in the refurbishment marketplace.