18 Feb 2021
Tracking the component lifecycle and ensuring traceability of some aircraft parts are enormously vital processes. Keith Mwanalushi from AviTrader MRO spoke with Sajedah Rustom and examines how current trends in the industry are impacting these operations.
During the COVID pandemic, industry experts have seen several things trending with aircraft component management. Firstly, it's apparent that multiple aircraft types are being pulled forward for retirement, which has caused market and OEM concerns of material oversaturation.
Certainly, due to the significantly reduced level of flying and the resulting financial stress on airlines, cost control at all levels has been the key focus. This applies equally to component maintenance, comments Sajedah Rustom, CEO at AJW Technique. “Repair volumes are down significantly due to the reduced flying hours, and the high number of parked aircraft. And for those components which are in the repair cycle, there is a trend to avoid high-cost repairs. Those which do require a high-cost repair will typically be put on hold for now, or even scrapped and cannibalised to support lower cost repair on similar components.” Sajedah continues saying the early retirement of aircraft and uptake of teardowns have resulted in a surplus of used serviceable components at relatively low prices. “However, we have steadily witnessed an increase in component removal since the beginning of COVID. We created solutions to help reduce customer costs and mitigate against risk exposures for instance, we implemented a Quote and Hold solution which allows customers to send components to AJW Technique for test and evaluation and then hold the units until they need the unit back in their stock, which has enormously helped customers maintain cashflow.”
Full life history (or back to birth) is critical for life limited parts (LLPs) as the air operator requires a full understanding of the components history to ensure all life limits are understood and adhered to. As part of a lease return check, Sajedah explains that it is normal practice to perform an audit of all life limited components, and so it is essential the operator maintains accurate records to support this process. “This is relatively straightforward when components are repaired or overhauled and returned to the same operator, as all the records and traceability is held within one system. However, when exchanges are made it is essential to validate all required records are available and accurate, and to ensure all information is recorded within the operators tracking system. “Note, however the majority of components are on condition, with those that are life limited being focused mainly on landing gear, engines and safety equipment.”
Additionally, Sajedah says there has been a huge transition towards digital solutions to proactively manage and forecast repairs on life limited parts via traceability. She states with the development of predictive and preventative maintenance, aggregations of historical and real-time data enable just-on-time parts replenishment and proper manpower capacity planning for MROs; and predicts the condition of the unit based on its historical behaviour. “This in turn drives efficiency for MROs but also helps airlines provision for timely removals, reduces parked aircraft intervals and reduces maintenance costs. AJW has been investigating the area of both predictive and preventative maintenance to streamline the repair process and foresee customers’ requirements.”
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