Encompassing an array of actions from removing a smear of grease to stripping and inspecting an entire airframe, maintenance is a discipline comprising often complex, safety-critical and financially significant events. Easily appearing as a somewhat abstract activity going on behind closed hangar doors, maintenance is better regarded as the precision enabler at the centre of all things aerospace.
Among several primary maintenance providers delivering complex and disparate work packages to airline clients, Air France Industries KLM Engineering & Maintenance (AFI KLM E&M) and Monarch Aircraft Engineering Limited (MAEL) are both expanding with additional customers and/or new facilities.
In a deal typical of AFI KLM E&M’s offering, last November it signed a total care agreement covering Air Austral’s Boeing 777 fleet, adding to the extended support it had been providing the carrier’s 787s since the previous February.
Jean-Michel Picard, AFI KLM E&M Vice President Sales Middle East & Africa, explains exactly what total care means for Air Austral’s 777 fleet: "It provides component, main base kit and engine support; and APU, engineering and airframe maintenance, including line and base maintenance." Looking at the wider scope of total care provision, Picard says: "Our expertise with the Air France and KLM fleets, highly varied global offering, capability with the latest-generation products and tailored, personalised solutions optimise customer operations and reduce the total cost of ownership. We offer full support solutions for short, medium and long haul aircraft, including aircraft maintenance, engine overhaul, component support, cabin modifications, unscheduled repair, parts provision and AOG cover."
But the 777 work is even wider-ranging, since it includes the phase-out of two aircraft and phase-in support for more. The phase-out works cover checks before the aircraft are returned to lessors, notes Picard: "Collection of documentation and technical records is among the main and most important parts of the phase-out process. The phase-in support involves engineering support and potential post-delivery modifications on two 777-300s."
AFI KLM E&M’s support for Austral’s Dreamliners is delivered under a similar arrangement to the 777 programme, including component support; main base kit support; APU; engineering; and maintenance control, covering line maintenance and phasing A checks. Ironically, while AFI KLM E&M is a major player in GEnx MRO, Rolls-Royce is responsible for their Trent engines.
Indeed, heavy investment has enabled it to establish the first non-OEM MRO network for the GEnx-1B, including a test cell in Paris, which Picard says is the only approved facility in Europe other than General Electric’s own. "Our GEnx expertise also covers engine component repair through AFI KLM E&M’s CRMA subsidiary and its repair centres of excellence in Amsterdam and Paris."
With AFI and KLM both 787 operators, Picard confirms: "AFI KLM E&M is keen to optimise maintenance check intervals and their escalation. We leverage decades of experience in the field with active participation in the 787 Fleet Team Conference and 787 Industry Steering Committee. Future customers benefit from the ‘open-door culture’ established by current 787 customers, sharing first-hand operator experience."
Another MRO with specialist 787 knowledge, MAEL announced its Boeing GoldCare approval at Birmingham, UK, in January 2015. It’s typical of the company that as well as providing 787 maintenance services, it also offers training on the type. MAEL’s Head of Maintenance, Andy Mackay says: "We announced our Boeing GoldCare 787 approval following a successful supplier audit. It required meeting and exceeding the regular standards set by Boeing GoldCare." A substantial amount of Dreamliner tooling – including engine change equipment/hydraulic rig investment – now enables MAEL to carry out base maintenance support for the type (including phase checks, engine changes and service bulletin accomplishments) at the Birmingham facility.
"Since the 787’s a new type, engineers with appropriate qualifications are in short supply. However, through the extensive capabilities of our in-house training academy, based at London Luton, we provide specific type and continuation training on new-generation and legacy types.
"Our Part-147 Monarch Aircraft Engineering Training Academy was among the first UK organisations outside Boeing to offer Dreamliner training courses, including practical and theory. We strive to remain at the forefront of aviation maintenance technology and training."
Subsequent 787 maintenance highlights in the Birmingham hangar include the first phase 12 check (C check) by a UK MRO, in September 2015, while March, April and May 2016 were also busy with Dreamliner work. "We completed back-to-back, nose-to-tail airframe maintenance on eight aircraft for one of our third-party customers. It included phase 12 checks, service bulletins, engine changes and defect rectification.” >>
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