5 Critical Mistakes to Avoid When Planning Your Aircraft Repair


If you own an aircraft, operate or work at one, you already know that creating an annual plan for your aircraft repair is not an easy task.

A lot of back-and-forth and calendar juggling are involved in this process. You need to take into consideration one-time events such as airworthiness directives (ADs), service bulletins, etc. To complicate matters even further, you must deal with warranty requirements and power-by-the-hour programs. This causes a heavy backlog of work at most airplane repair stations because everything needs to be taken care of in one visit.

Avoiding these critical mistakes when planning your upcoming maintenance event can save you time and money:

1. You Don’t Understand the MRO’s In-House Capabilities

Most MRO and repair stations do not have 100% maintenance capabilities in-house and will, often than not, have to outsource to other aviation service companies when taking care of your aircraft. Outsourcing services & aircraft component repairs takes additional downtime – one that can seriously impact your business.

It’s true; you don’t always need a one-stop shop. However, when it’s more than just a minor airplane maintenance event, it would be wise to seek a company that can repair any additional items. This will save you the time and hassle of repositioning the plane and putting it down again for additional repair.

We know that the ADS-B deadline is creeping up. But take the time, review all other items that are due. Try to bundle your major inspections with other items such as interior, paint, Wi-Fi or media installation, etc.

2. You Are Not Taking an Active Part in the Aircraft Repair Process

A maintenance facility can significantly shorten your downtime during a major inspection by working discrepancies in conjunction with your inspections. For this to be successful, you need to provide the facility with discrepancy approvals as they are detected rather than waiting until a later stage of the process. It will save you valuable time at the end of the event.

In addition, more manpower is typically dedicated to your aircraft during the initial stages of the inspection. These employees can easily be allocated in advance before your arrival to ensure a faster turn-around of completed work. This will also allow for aircraft spare parts to be sourced on the spot, which further reduces overall downtime and cost.

3. You Don’t Know the Current & Future Maintenance Status

You can save unnecessary downtime and expenses just by thoroughly understanding your aircraft’s maintenance status – current and future. Consistently reviewing logbooks is critical to detecting what is coming due and, more importantly, uncovering what is overdue.

Let’s say, for example, you have purchased an aircraft and are planning new paint or interior refurbishment. These modifications take anywhere from a few weeks to 2 months. You can streamline the process, and save further repair hours down the road, by looking at future scheduled maintenance events to see what you can incorporate during this downtime.   This includes inspections, overhauls, service bulletins, and ADs.

There are some excellent maintenance tracking software out there that enable you to perform predictive maintenance and similar functions. In addition, you can also sync your demand list with the ePlane platform, and work on 1 system more efficiently – for free. The ePlane dashboard will help you streamline your part procurement process with a few simple clicks.

4. You Don’t Plan Your Incoming Briefing

Another essential time and money saving tool when going for an inspection is the incoming briefing. It allows you to go over every item with the team that is going to work on your aircraft. During the briefing, your airplane repair facility will typically help set expectations, lay the foundation for communication, and establish mutually agreed-upon touch points.

Incoming briefings also allow for in-depth, direct reviews with all the different department heads. If, for example, you experience weak pressurization while in flight, the mechanic working on this specific issue can ask second or third-level questions, such as Is the pressure weaker in higher or lower altitudes? Manual or auto mode?.  Then they can provide a compatible workflow and order parts in advance, thus saving you precious downtime on your overall aircraft repair.

5. You Fail to Communicate Throughout the Inspection

Accurate and efficient communication is key to moving each maintenance event or aircraft repair forward. Inspection forward progress is accomplished by keeping an open communication channel throughout the process. Your Project Manager must fully understand your preferences, so they can alert you in a manner and frequency that is most convenient for you. Thanks to ePlane’s live chat feature, project managers and team leads can seamlessly send you photos and short videos to help discuss further options. You can also request updates regarding low cost, non-OEM parts that may be available. You are able to approve, decline, and request more information on discrepancies, manage the work, and better understand your bill.

Now Put Everything Together

In today’s aviation industry, operators don’t wait until an inspection or an aircraft repair is due. Most managers try to book their next event ahead of time. MRO time demands are incredibly high, and aircraft maintenance procedures are typically booked several months in advance. If you follow these five tips, start your process early and fully understand the workflow and touch points, you will be able to complete your yearly maintenance plan seamlessly. This will prevent you from having to schedule additional downtime shortly after completing a major event and will alleviate the cost of repositioning your aircraft.

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