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Maintenance

Brake test

A spin off company is looking to provide specialist services for wheels and brakes
 

Phil Randell, Managing Director of wheels and brakes specialists World Aero, says he has been asked numerous times over the years to help other companies set up their own wheel and brake repair shops. He always declined as he saw it as introducing potential new competitors to his core business once they were up and running.

 

However, he realised that there was potential in assisting those companies located outside of World Aero’s geographic reach through the provision of its specialist knowledge and inspection equipment, leading to the formation of Inspection Technologies in 2014.

 

Inspection Technologies can assist smaller operators in establishing simple wheel repair shops close to their operating base, where they can carry out basic tasks such as tyre changes. The equipment, personnel skills and investment needed to perform these tasks is modest and a small shop can often be established within an operator’s existing facility. When more complex work is required, such as wheel overhaul or brake work, products could be routed back to World Aero for deep overhaul. The aim is a collaboration between the operator, Inspection Technologies and World Aero to offer an all-round capability, with each party performing the element for which they are best prepared.

 

Beyond that, Inspection Technologies offers a growing range of small, specialist items of wheel and brake maintenance tooling, most of which have a number of advantages over OEM-specified tooling.

 

Firstly, World Aero has EASA, FAA and Transport Canada Part 145 approval, which Randall describes as ‘precious’, given that the company could not function without it. As a consequence, all of the tooling is subject to regular audits as part of the overall inspection of the facility. Thus, Inspection Technologies operates to the same quality levels by association. Inspection Technologies operates an ISO9001 quality system.

 

Secondly, although the tooling is usually specified by the manufacturer in the Component Maintenance Manual, there is generally a proviso that an acceptable alternative can be used. The company has drawn on its experience with wheels and brakes from Goodrich, Honeywell, Meggitt (formerly ABSC and Dunlop) and Safran Landing Systems (formerly Messier-Bugatti-Dowty) to develop many acceptable alternatives. Inspection Technologies has an advantage in that it can introduce design improvements (based on its experience) that make the tools more efficient and user-friendly, such as guides for more precise location of tooling and ease of use.

 

A good example of this on the Boeing 737NG is the requirement to use ultrasonic inspection to determine cracking of the inboard bearing bore radius of a Honeywell-manufactured wheel hub. This is generally a ‘go/no go’ test and, if it fails, results in the scrapping of the hub. As it is a safety critical and high value item, there is a need to accurately determine failed wheel hubs, while also keeping spurious indications and therefore unnecessary scrapping of hubs to a minimum. However, many repair shops use a collection of unmatched and compromised items to perform this test which results in an often vague inspection. A diligent technician will often err on the side of caution when performing the inspection with such equipment. A few years ago, the scrap rate was around 5% but, over a year, World Aero and Inspection Technologies developed a set of improved inspection tooling that reduced the scrap rate to less than 1% whilst affording the technician complete confidence in the quality of the inspection. The equipment comes as a package and repair shops who have taken the equipment report ease of use and much lower spurious failure indications, resulting in massive cost savings for the operator.

 

Thirdly, some of the tooling is extremely difficult to source – one of the bigger problems Randell faced when World Aero branched into wheel and brake MRO in 2008. With a lot of design and manufacture capability available through Inspection Technologies, supply is no longer a problem.

 

Much of the Inspection Technologies customer base will be those smaller operators mentioned before but he says the Chinese market is of great interest as more airlines are reviewing their maintenance standards and equipment. The Chinese market is one that World Aero had not been active in prior to the launch of Inspection Technologies, but nowadays each company brings the other custom in this region.

 

Despite his previous reluctance on setting up repair shops for others, the new venture is able to provide consultancy service and on-the-job training. Loan items are another possibility, especially short-term loans of critical, must-have items of tooling such as tyre bead-breakers, the failure of which can leave a wheel shop at a standstill.


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