by Jim Kraus
MROs are under constant pressure to raise productivity while controlling costs. Specifying the right surface finishing product can allow airline MRO facilities to achieve the performance they need to maintain efficient and effective operations.
Recently, Saint-Gobain Abrasives worked closely with a major U. S.-based commercial airline to demonstrate the performance of their abrasives solutions. A three-part test was conducted at the airline’s maintenance facility to compare the cycle time and performance of Saint-Gobain’s Norton Multi-Air A975 NorGrip Multi-Air Discs, Norton Vortex Rapid Prep quick change discs and Norton Vortex Rapid Prep non-woven quick change discs against conventional competing products.
Designed for demanding dual action (DA) sanding applications, Norton Multi-Air A975 combines dust extraction with a patented ceramic aluminum oxide (A/O) abrasive. This combination results in a vacuum disc product that helps increase productivity and eliminate harmful dust.
Norton Vortex Rapid Prep non-woven products combine high-performance patented Vortex abrasives grain and proprietary smear-free resin technology allowing for faster throughput and reduced labor requirements. “Three-dimensional” construction allows all three faces of the disc to be involved in the finishing, as opposed to conventional products that use just the bottom layer of abrasive. Discs can be used down to the button with consistent cut-rate throughout an extended product life. Norton Vortex Rapid Prep can perform several times better than conventional discs on aircraft repair work including epoxy adhesive removal from carbon fiber inner skin, carbon fiber and copper removal, and aircraft airframe blending mismatch and corner break on aluminum spars.
by Jason Dickstein
What is an approved part? Many mechanics rely on their company’s receiving inspection systems to ensure that they have the parts that they need, when they need them. But the real responsibility for airworthiness rests in the hands of the mechanic, so an understanding of what the FAA considers to be “approved parts” can be important to making sure that the job gets done, right.
When we are installing parts, we often refer to those installed parts as replacement or modification parts. That is, they are either directly replacing a prior part, or they are modifying the configuration with a different part that accomplishes the intended goals. It is normal for us to refer to the “good parts” that we want to use as “approved parts,” but what does this term really mean? Which aircraft parts are really “approved parts?”
In 2009, the FAA created a new regulation for replacement and modification parts. That regulation greatly expanded the scope of who is covered by the FAA’s production regulations.
The old rule only applied to persons who produced parts for sale for installation on a type certificated product. This mean that many categories of parts were not covered by the old FAA rule, including parts produced for installation by a repair station (not offered for sale) and parts made for other industries (not intended for installation on a type certificated aircraft).
The new rule applied to any person who knows, or reasonably should know, that at least one of their parts will end up on type certificated aircraft. This much broader scope was intended by the FAA to better cover the wide gamut of parts that are produced and used in civil aviation.
In the preamble to the rule, the FAA confirmed that “[t]he provisions of § 21.9 apply to the producer of any part that may be used as a replacement or modification article, not just parts that were produced.” The FAA stated that their regulatory intent was to ensure that installers only install parts for which a suitability determination has been made (either by the producer or by the installer).
By Charlotte Adams
Aviation maintenance software is pervasive today, as managers shift from pencil and paper to some degree of digital assistance. And there’s a world of choice. At last count some 100 different maintenance and engineering applications occupied this space, and now there are probably more. There’s something for everyone—it’s just a matter of finding out what the options are.
Although there is much overlapping between offerings, there are certain broad classifications. Some applications, like enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems, include financials and human resources. Others, which are extremely broad within the maintenance arena, may call themselves aviation or MRO ERPs. Many applications inhabit the middle ground, helping users to manage a wide range of maintenance functions. The differences, however, seem to be somewhat a matter of interpretation.
Other applications are more specialized to maintenance, focusing, for example, on tracking the status of projects or regulatory and business documentation. As a minimum, most maintenance software applications do job tracking at some level. Others monitor the supply chain—parts, pricing and availability. Still others help managers to keep a very granular view of project status, so that resources can be shifted based on need.
The processing structure and the interface also vary. Some applications are installed on the user’s internal servers. More and more applications developers also are offering remote cloud-based processing, as well,
along with applications geared to mobile devices and interfaces that are specialized to job functions.
We take a look at almost 20 companies, some of which feature multiple offerings. It is intended to give readers an idea of the scope and variety of maintenance software offerings available today.
When you look at the MRO business today, you’d think that it would be very hard for one shop to really differentiate itself from another. After all practically every step of every inspection or maintenance procedure is spelled-out in the aircraft OEM’s approved maintenance manual. And those are “rules” you just can’t afford to break.
But thankfully, innovation is alive and thriving at MROs around the world. To stay ahead of their competition, leading shops are examining and rethinking every aspect of their daily business to find new and innovative processes to save time and money.
Whether it’s shaving a few minutes off of a task or developing a new tool or software application to streamline a process, even a small innovation can reap huge savings for its customers and translate into a significant advantage for the shop.
Innovation Is Where You Find It
Back in the day “innovations” just sort of happened. You’d find a better way to do something and it became part of a company’s culture. There’s too much riding on it to leave innovation to chance today. Leading MROs are making innovation part of their corporate culture.
“Our entire motivation for innovation comes from our Chairman down,” stated Dany Kleiman, aviation group VP, repair and engineering for AAR Corp. “We are always working in three key areas: One is to stay close to our customers. Second is to be innovative. And third is to execute. That’s the golden trio we follow in our planning.”
Kleiman said that AAR’s large airline customers are encouraging the MRO to look for ways to innovate and improve processes. “We actually got a mandate from one to re-plan their scheduled maintenance in a way that will drive their turn-times down and save on some routine inspections,” he said.
“As an MRO we are really selling labor and any way we can reduce labor time becomes direct savings to our customers,” explained AAR’s VP & CIO, Kevin Larson. “One way we’re reducing turn time is through our StAAR work card and labor collection system. One of its big benefits is touch-screen access that drive the functions around time, attendance and quality assurance.”
by Joy Finnegan, Editor in Chief, Aviation Maintenance Magazine
Google Glass. The Tesla electric car. 3D printing. Innovations in our world just keep coming. Technology is advancing at breakneck speed. Is innovation happening in MRO? Or are things still happening in the hangar with the old school thinking and technology of the 50s and 60s?
In this issue we wanted to take a look at the amazing things MROs are doing to stay on top in what is one of the most competitive but necessary business sectors in aviation—MRO. We were not disappointed. The leading MROs around the world shared some of the most innovative ideas they have put into practice at their facilities. They are impressive.
How much time is spent searching for parts? On the cover you see the MEERA (Mobile Enabled Engine Repair Application) project implemented by TAP M&E. This project uses RFID to track engine components during overhaul with the goal of optimizing the turn-around time. The handheld device can be swept over a storage or shelving unit and, when it senses the part being searched for, an audible alarm goes off. Time saved equals money saved.
An OEM procedure to check the abradable engine shroud on the GE90 engine required 48 hours to perform, if a run-up was required. A clever technician at AFI KLM E&M’s engine facility devised a low-tech alternative procedure using a roll of tape, a pen and a ruler. Hats off to that technician, Claude Dubois, for his creative thinking that reduced the procedure to a quick three hours and doesn’t require fan blade removal, special tooling or a run-up.
Lufthansa Technik told us about their CAIRE program. Initially developed through a research project that focused on finding a complete, reproducible process for repairing composites using a stationary robotic device. Once that process and machine were produced, a further research project began to make the process mobile. Composite Adaptable Inspection and Repair, or CAIRE, was the result.
A version of the robot was developed allowing mobile teams to diagnose and repair large areas of fuselage and wing damage on wing, once again saving time and money.
Gulfstream Aerospace has expanded its worldwide service and support network by opening a parts and materials distribution center near Los Angeles. The 5,000-square-foot/464.5-square-meter facility at Van Nuys Airport primarily serves Gulfstream customers in the western U.S. and Canada, shortening delivery times and minimizing shipping costs.
The Van Nuys facility is expected to have approximately $15 million in parts and materials by the end of 2014. Gulfstream maintains a worldwide spares inventory of more than $1.4 billion. An on-site sales representative is available to arrange for local pickup and delivery of parts.
“This is another milestone in our growth,” said Mark Burns, president, Gulfstream Product Support. “As we expand, we need to continue to provide our customers with the parts they need as quickly as possible. We chose Van Nuys because of its proximity to one of the largest bases of Gulfstream operators in the world. In the Los Angeles area alone, we have more than 100 operators; in California, we have more than 200. Over the next three years or so, we’ll increase our inventory and support in Van Nuys.”
Volartec now provides technical services to airlines, lessors and government agencies. The company says it is constantly looking to the future, researching and applying the latest technology, systems, processes and services to deliver added value to their customers. Volartec Aviation Services is a business unit that was created within the group to proactively build upon the requests to fulfill further customer needs.
“We stand out for more than our technical expertise, we are an ethical, customer-focused organization, never compromising on quality and always striving to understand and exceed customer expectations,” Christian Maggio, Volartec CEO says. “We are proud to have the LATAM group as the first customer for our new service. It is just the first step to providing the premier technical consulting service firstly in this region and building to beyond.”
The LATAM group have contracted Volertec to provide technical representative services in aircraft checks, records reviews, audits and to provide technical assistance for comprehensive maintenance process in different MRO based worldwide.
AirStat allows users to analyze their internal efficiency as well as supplier performance. In turn, this helps customers to make improved asset management decisions, reduce turnaround times and enhance supplier relationships, says the company.
AirStat combines data visualization, social collaboration and intuitive data analysis into user-friendly dashboards. These dashboards present big data in easily readable charts, tables and graphics.
“We are very excited about being able to provide our customers such a powerful tool that complements our suite of repair management applications,” says Richard Wood, Airinmar account program director. “This new partnership will allow Airinmar to serve information in a relevant and intuitive manner to all users of its systems, both internal and external. We look forward to rolling AirStat out to our customers over the coming months to help them make better, more timely decisions based on the way we’re now able to present real-time data.”
Metallized Carbon Corporation announced Metcar carbon-graphite bushings for use in gear pumps that pump aviation fuel for aircraft engines. The carbon-graphite bushings are used to support both the drive gear shaft and the idler gear shaft.
Metcar carbon-graphite bushings can use aviation fuel as the bushing lubricant. Aviation fuel is a low viscosity liquid that produces only an extremely thin hydrodynamic film, too thin to provide adequate lubrication for traditional metallic bushings. But since Metcar’s carbon-graphite material—in contrast—has no atomic attraction to a metallic shaft, the thin fuel film is sufficient to lubricate metallic shafts running in the carbon-graphite bushings.
A second major advantage of carbon-graphite bushings is that they are self-lubricating—they can run dry for short periods of time without catastrophic pump failure or significant wear. In addition, Metcar carbon-graphite bushings are dimensionally stable, which permits the close bushing to shaft running clearances that are required in gear pump applications.
Finally, these carbon-graphite bushings have a relatively low elastic modulus. While elastic enough that they can be press-fit into the metallic gear pump housing with no difficulty, after being properly press-fit, the Metcar bushings are pre-stressed in compression. Therefore, they exhibit nearly the same coefficient of thermal expansion as the metallic gear pump housing material. This assures that the running clearance between the shafts and the bushings will remain the same throughout the entire operating temperature range of the pump.
FL Technics Training signed an agreement with Aeroman, the Latin America’s leading MRO provider. According to the agreement, FL Technics Training will support the Salvadoran MRO provider with the introduction of Boeing 737 NG aircraft type to its capabilities and other aviation training courses.
Under the cooperation, FL Technics Training has already deployed a team of instructors to the Republic of El Salvador where they have started the provision of Boeing 737 NG theoretical, practical and interior courses as well as Heat treatment training. More than 200 specialists of Aeroman are already engaged in training conducted by the company.
“Without any doubt, the aviation market in Latin America is highly promising. While most regional carriers are expanding their fleets, local aircraft maintenance providers are also preparing themselves for the growing MRO demand,” shares Kestutis Volungevicius, the head of FL Technics Training. “We are very glad about the opportunity to support the expansion of one of the leading MRO organizations in the region. With the support of our local partners we are able to ensure both theoretical and practical training for Aeroman specialists whilst hoping that our existent cooperation will eventually develop into more training projects in the future.”
The latest agreement with Aeroman follows FL Technics Training’s receipt of the Aviation Technical Training Organization Certificate recently issued by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Republic of El Salvador. Under the approval, FL Technics Training is now eligible to provide EASA Part-147-certified Base, Type and Specialized technical training courses for carriers, MROs and other players of the Salvadoran aviation market.