Mastering the Challenges of Base Maintenance Operations

by Silke Kley

The maintenance of an aircraft and its components is one of the most critical aspects for an airline. For one thing, it is a compulsory and strictly regulated activity to ensure safety of flight operations. It also, however, represents a significant part of an airline’s direct operating costs. Base maintenance is considered the most complex and crucial process within aircraft maintenance, posing substantial challenges for airlines. Besides the question of which challenges airlines and aircraft maintenance providers are typically facing, it also raises the question of how to master these challenges and how to achieve financial and operational targets to increase competitiveness. 

On a regular basis, aircraft need to undergo dedicated and scheduled maintenance routines which can only be carried out within a hangar environment using specialized equipment. This process requires a large number of technicians and engineers. During base maintenance, the aircraft is on the ground from anywhere between 1 and 40 days. While being temporarily taken out of service, the aircraft is simultaneously taken out of the revenue schedule, underlining the high significance of base maintenance from a management perspective. The basic aim is to find the optimal balance between minimizing operating costs, maximizing aircraft availability and assuring compliance with safety regulations. It is important to successfully cope with the challenges of the market now and in the future while keeping the achievement of these objectives in mind.  

One difficulty of base maintenance is the vast amount of resources involved in the process and the complex interrelations between them. A failure in the availability of these resources often has a bearing on the management of others and can disturb the entire maintenance plan, causing delays and disruptions and resulting in severe operational and economic consequences. As airlines are under great pressure to avoid delays, a failure in the process could imply an increase in the available workforce, thereby increasing costs. On the other hand, if an aircraft stays on the ground for more time than planned, airlines face a cut-back in aircraft availability, affecting aircraft routing, scheduling and available seat-miles, leading to a reduction in revenue.

Another challenge is the uncertainty of unplanned tasks arising during base maintenance. In general, a precise plan is created, including all activities, resources and the time required to accomplish an agreed delivery time while assuring the highest quality and safety standards. However, during the execution of a maintenance service, discrepancies and damages could be discovered that need to be taken into account. Based on customer experience, this proportion of unplanned maintenance can be up to 50% of the total workload. For older aircraft, the unplanned maintenance can even exceed the planned one. When being responsible for the successful completion of a maintenance event, there is nothing worse than experiencing a doubling or tripling of tasks, requiring additional activities and resources, ultimately affecting the on-time performance of the complete process. Since unplanned maintenance accounts for a large portion of total maintenance, managing uncertainty is crucial for effective and efficient outcomes across the entire maintenance process.

Airlines and aircraft maintenance providers need to find a way to master these challenges while obtaining and maintaining control of the complexity of base maintenance operations. This is hardly manageable without IT support: Efficient resource management systems are one of the key factors for balancing financial and operational objectives. INFORM has made considerable efforts to develop a solution fully capable of satisfying the requirements of the market. INFORM’s Base Maintenance solution allows for the most efficient and transparent processes in regards to the planning, allocation and monitoring of resources, considering both the planned and unplanned workload. The solution helps to find optimized results, respecting a set of constraints and conditions. This delivers greater productivity and consistency to an airline’s daily base maintenance operations, translating into significant cost savings and a sustainable competitive advantage.

Join us at this year´s MRO Americas in Orlando, Florida, and learn more about INFORM´s recently launched Base Maintenance solution.

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About the author

  • Silke Kley

    Silke started working as Marketing Manager at INFORM in 2015. She is working in our Aviation Division and is interested in all industry related topics.

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