The biggest advantage of Business Aviation is its ability to enable passengers to fly where they need, whenever they want.
In this respect private jets, turboprops and helicopters offer tremendous flexibility to their owners and operators compared to traveling with the scheduled airlines.
It is important, therefore, to maintain and optimize the flexibility of the aircraft. And that’s where aircraft Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul (MRO) is vital. As an aircraft’s airframe, engines and systems age and the number of flight hours increase, wear and tear will inevitably impact its surfaces and component parts.
When those parts deteriorate, the aircraft’s reliability will deteriorate too, and it will spend more time in the hangar, grounded by airworthiness issues or non-functioning systems instead of making money for its owners and operators by transporting key personnel efficiently. A grounded aircraft is always an expensive, non-productive business tool.
Enhanced Safety Through MRO
Just as important as maintaining the efficiency and reliability of the aircraft is optimizing safety. Scheduled maintenance events are designed to assess and deal with an aircraft’s many life-limited components or other parts that may need overhaul or repair.
And regular MRO can explore and correct any less obvious signs of deterioration to an aircraft’s condition, identifying (for example) corrosion that may develop beneath the aircraft’s outer surfaces, or a part in need of repair or replacement that’s installed deep within one of the aircraft’s powerplants (for example). It helps reduce the chance of unexpected equipment malfunctions or failures.
Essentially, by adhering to an aircraft's Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul requirements, operators could feasibly help reduce the number of unscheduled maintenance events (otherwise known as an Aircraft on Ground – AOG – event).
Adherence to MRO requirements can also provide business jet owners and operators with an opportunity to review and implement necessary upgrades and modifications, and applicable Airworthiness Directives (ADs) or Service Bulletins (SBs) that will help the aircraft operate at its highest level.
Choosing the Right MRO Provider
With so much depending on an aircraft’s regular MRO needs being met, it stands to reason that the quality of MRO work being carried out on the aircraft is important. Poor, or missed maintenance and obscure MRO-related records in the aircraft’s logbooks will create doubts about the calibre of the aircraft, impacting its eventual resale price.
While there are many MRO providers offering services to business aircraft operators around the world, not all are equal in terms of the standard and range of services they offer.
Therefore, owners and operators should be selective about who they choose to take care of their aircraft's MRO needs, preferably selecting one company and staying with that provider for the duration of their aircraft ownership.
Some MRO providers are manufacturer-authorized Service Centers, while others are independent operations (though not necessarily less skilled in their service provision). Some providers have multiple locations – perhaps worldwide – while others have a single facility.
Regardless of the size or type of provider, they should be able to demonstrate a deep knowledge of your aircraft’s make and model before you selects them as your MRO provider. And if required, they should also be able to produce references from other operators of that business aircraft type that will help prove their credentials.
The ideal maintenance shop will be sufficiently staffed and have ready access to spare parts to help ensure any downtime required for MRO work stays relatively predictable, allowing you to work around it with alternative arrangements.
And remember – as with so many things – where MRO is concerned, you usually get what you pay for. The cheapest MRO center is not necessarily be the best MRO center. As demonstrated, there are many factors at play in determining who should undertake the MRO work on your aircraft. Make sure you understand these, as the implications can be significant.