MROs Developing the Air Carrier Interface

It’s not uncommon to have similar aircraft side-by-side, worked to different requirements and processes aimed at compliance to the same regulations.

There may be different signature requirements for each operator in the hangar. One accepts a stamp; another requires a full signature and A&P. Both are part of each carrier’s maintenance program requirements. Corrective action signoffs must follow a set format for one carrier and completely different for another. When working hundreds of tasks these small differences matter.

If personnel are coming off one project to work this new aircraft they must be counseled on the importance of accepting the new rules established by the new customer. QA personnel must attend as well to give them the necessary tools to maintain oversight of the check program details. The key here is to educate personnel into accepting new work habits for the project. MROs must master the art of change.

Failure to understand the carrier’s requirements can result in unplanned requirements that degrade the repair station’s internal administrative processes. For example: The use of a duplicate nonroutine process that is not compatible with the repair station work order program. The repair station may have to create and manage duplicate work records based on the carrier’s need to maintain its internal nonroutine records in a computerized system. This activity has an impact on check performance since the check personnel must correctly record work using two different methods.

Adequate personnel

There has to be enough people to do the job. They have to be knowledgeable enough to do the job well. Heavy checks having thousands of man-hours need to be staffed with enough qualified personnel to assure that the aircraft meets inspection program requirements. It also has to deliver the aircraft at the time necessary to meet its internal production plan.

One key concern is the use of noncertificated personnel. Operators are wary of their use but each MRO mitigates the concern by putting controls in place to assure that effective oversight is maintained. Instructions to noncertificated personnel have to be clear as to what they can and cannot do and be described in the repair station manual. Inspection buy back would be one control.

In extreme cases the operator’s program can prohibit the use of noncertificated personnel. It impacts other lines of work due to the need to shift certificated personnel to the new project. One operator can affect the check performance of many others. It may also impact back shop support. Structures personnel, for example, may be noncertificated but highly skilled in their specialty. Nondestructive testing personnel would be another example. A&Ps having lesser overall experience but greater specialized skills may be tasked with these specialty functions.

Communication a must

Every heavy check has a production method. In developing the check plan, the use of personnel requires management of technicians to a schedule that includes a labor budget. This allows the manager to task the aircraft daily to a set performance level gauged to deliver the aircraft on the target date and meet the repair station’s revenue goals.

Each carrier brings its own production expectations to the project. Management of these expectations requires robust communication on what takes place daily. Daily production reports that provide a clear description of the check progress are a must. The report must be credible and readable. Negative information must be there as well as positive. If production is impacted the reasons why must be there to explain project recovery.

MROs have a tough job. The interface between the MRO and each of its customers is a highly fluid environment requiring good communication and management skills. Each operator’s individual maintenance program requirements must be met. MROs must plan to the individual interface created by each operator that rolls into their hangar and create the necessary relationship that results in a high level of quality and on-time delivery of an airworthy aircraft.

Vern Berry’s maintenance experience within the aviation industry includes key management roles in quality and safety for both MRO and air carrier operations.

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