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Record makers

Managing technical records through component supply and MRO operations, then providing a coherent, accessible database for compliance and lease return continues to challenge an industry that’s stubbornly holding on to paper. Yet cloud-based, real-time compliance is already here, as Paul E Eden discovers

It is an enduring irony that paper record-keeping remains so prevalent in an industry as technologically advanced as aerospace. It is also typical of aerospace that the inevitable move towards digital record-taking and storage is progressing at its own steady pace. Even with the proliferation of record-keeping software, apps and other online systems relying on technical records, ‘digitisation’ very often means ‘scanning a piece of paper to make a pdf’.


An industry leader in parts and MRO provision, AAR Corp is expert in handling and storing records across its vast parts inventory, expertise applied recently to its new PAARTS STORE 2.0, an online portal that the company says includes ‘more than 1 million new and used parts’. According to an AAR press release, it provides “real-time access to AAR’s extensive stock of overhauled, serviceable, and repairable airframe and engine parts for almost every commercial aircraft platform. Full documentation, including trace and certification, is available to registered customers, as is the ability to instantly purchase or negotiate RFQs online.”


How are the PAARTS STORE’s technical records verified and maintained? Michael J Czerniak, AAR’s Director – Digital Product Management, says: “All AAR’s products must meet or exceed the highest standards of quality with respect to certifications, traceability and workmanship. Once an item has passed this quality inspection, it becomes available for sale either online or now via the PAARTS STORE – the same standard applies.


“AAR combines complete asset teardowns and strategic purchasing to fuel its inventory needs. The process begins before a purchase takes place. We have dedicated teams that specialise in technical record review and our asset acquisitions are heavily contingent on conforming traceability documentation. Upon completing a purchase and receiving the goods, an AAR-required quality inspection begins as the final stage before the asset(s) become available for sale to our customers. Each item has a set of paper documents. Digital copies are made and the originals remain with the asset. AAR has a storage policy for digital documentation, which proves useful in cases where the original documentation is lost or damaged.”


PAARTS STORE is unusual in offering new, overhauled and repairable parts. Czerniak asserts: “This sets us apart from most other online exchanges that sell new or used parts, but not both and not at this volume,” he emphasises, adding: “all records are handled the same way”.


For customers, quality technical records are essential to informing a purchase, as Czerniak confirms: “Digital copies of the documentation are scanned into our system when the quality inspection takes place, then a URL is generated and made available to our customers. We aim to have all of the certification and traceability documentation available via this URL, so customers are armed with all the information they need to make a decision with respect to the quality and airworthiness of the part(s) they are interested in. The ability to see documentation online before buying is a key PAARTS STORE feature and while records can be viewed electronically, many are scanned print documents since that is most prevalent in the industry.”


But doesn’t making records available online open the door to potential fraudsters who might use illegally copied or downloaded records to ‘verify’ a counterfeit or non-airworthy part? “AAR is aware of the issue of counterfeiting of aviation parts, so we only expose documentation to authorised customers. There are certain forms and procedures in place that must be completed and followed before an organisation becomes an AAR customer; this better protects us from fraudulent use of our documentation.” >>


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