Perhaps three of the most dreaded words in commercial aviation are aircraft on ground (AOG). The very thought of an airplane stranded at some far-flung airport not earning revenue but burning through cash is enough to keep any airline CEO up at night. Due to the potential ripple effect an AOG can have on any airline, every operator must have a thoroughly planned AOG strategy and a trusted maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) partner to support it.
Anatomy of an AOG
An AOG can happen at any time, anywhere in the world—and when it does, every minute the aircraft sits on the ground is critical. Although each situation is unique, AOG incidents typically follow the same general pattern:
1. The airplane is disabled.
2. The airline calls its OEM and MRO for support.
3. An AOG team of quality inspectors, engineers, planners, and operations managers are dispatched to assess the airplane's condition.
4. An assessment is written up of what is wrong and what parts are needed.
5. The airline agrees to the scope of repairs and signs a contract to start work.
6. Parts are ordered and additional personnel, tools, and equipment are sent to the airplane work site.
7. Work commences, and when completed, the quality manager signs off, indicating the airplane may return to flight.
8. The airplane flies out to return to revenue service or to complete repairs not possible in its AOG location.
Planning for every single AOG contingency is practically impossible and not cost-effective in terms of personnel and parts. The range of potential scenarios can run from a simple equipment failure to an aircraft departing the runway and needing major structural repairs. However, not developing a strategy before disaster strikes invites severe and painful consequences to airline schedules, revenue, and passenger satisfaction. It is important to remember these key variables when developing your AOG strategy.
The three variables include:
- Knowing critical, go/no-go items (i.e. Master Minimum Equipment List / MMEL) for every aircraft in your fleet
- Understanding the maintenance resources and infrastructure at every location where your aircraft fly
- The frequency of flights each aviation asset supports
When all of these factors are thoroughly defined, you can begin to plan for your AOGs.
The entire planning process should start with aircraft material readiness, identifying critical parts and developing a recommended spare parts list. This is especially important for older aircraft, whose part availability may be limited and requires more time to obtain.
Generally, OEMs like Boeing, Airbus, Embraer, etc., outline all the parts and material installed on your fleet, but a full-service aviation company and MRO partner like AerSale® can also help fleet owners develop this information. The parts are categorized as no-go, go-if, and go items, and should include critical data such as mean time between unscheduled removal, quantity per aircraft, lead time for ordering, and mean shop processing time. The end result is a spare float quantity required to ensure smooth operation of each aircraft without excessive and expensive inventory.
Mitigating Your AOG
Of course, the best AOG is the one you never have. But can AOGs ever be truly avoided? The answer is a qualified yes. Mitigating the impact of an AOG situation is good aviation fleet management, which takes detailed planning, preparation, and data. These are strategies, some more optimal than others, effectively used by many airlines to eliminate or reduce the impact of an AOG.
- Preemptive parts - By examining aircraft usage data and identifying parts prone to causing AOG-related issues, inventory can be obtained to anticipate them through a trusted MRO partner like AerSale. However, parts availability is just one step in the AOG process. An MRO must provide or contract for shipping services, generate proper paperwork, and understand local import/export regulations to expedite deliveries. In many cases, carefully crafted AOG logistics plans have been thwarted by unforeseen customs mishaps, resulting in delays ranging from a few hours to a few weeks.
- Flyaway kits - Some airlines maintain a flyaway kit that contains important items which have demonstrated a statistically high chance of becoming faulty. They are available immediately during groundings at outstations. Airlines can own these items, or they can work with an aviation services company to provide them.
- Partnerships - Airlines often develop partnerships with companies operating at stations where they have flights. The best partner is another airline based in that station or one that operates from the same country and maintains a similar fleet.
- Cannibalization – In some cases, cannibalization—or removing a unit from a different aircraft grounded for maintenance—is another option. This helps get the AOG aircraft back in the air faster instead of waiting for a part to arrive while the needed material(s) can be sourced for the routine maintenance aircraft.
While a good AOG strategy underpins any successful return to revenue service, having the right MRO partner supporting that strategy is key. The answer is AerSale.
Get Airborne Again with AerSale
Despite the uniqueness of every AOG incident, the response ultimately comes down to two key components: the right parts and experienced personnel. AerSale has both. With one of the largest aftermarket logistics and distribution networks in the aviation industry, AerSale can provide just-in-time spares in almost any AOG situation. Through our preferred supplier programs and streamlined logistics supply chain, we have consistently demonstrated the ability to deliver quality aftermarket material worldwide, on time, while saving money for our global customer base.
A truly global parts supplier must be able to rapidly deliver inventory almost anywhere. AerSale’s Global Materials Distribution Center is strategically located in Grapevine, Texas, close to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport and non-stop flights to most global destinations. It has over 50,000 square feet of office and warehouse space that is dedicated to the storage and distribution of overhauled components for immediate delivery nearly anywhere on the planet. With only a two-hour window from purchase to pickup and over 20 full-time sales, distribution, and logistics professionals based at this facility, we have the resources to serve customers around the world.
Sometimes more extensive work is necessary than can be executed at the initial AOG location, requiring a ferry flight to better equipped facilities. AerSale has the heavy aircraft maintenance infrastructure and capabilities to execute even the most complicated of repairs, with more than 200 dedicated airframe/engine engineering, technical, and administrative support staff.
Prepare for Departure
Unfortunately, your airline does not get to choose where the next AOG emergency is going to happen. By having the right plans, parts, people, and MRO partner, you can effectively mitigate the loss of revenue, schedule disruptions, and customer dissatisfaction due to aircraft downtime.
A global aviation leader celebrating its 10-year anniversary, AerSale specializes in the sale, lease, and exchange of used aircraft, engines, and components, in addition to providing a broad range of maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) services and engineering services for commercial aircraft and components. AerSale also offers asset management services to owners of end-of-life aircraft and engine portfolios. Headquartered in Coral Gables, Florida, AerSale maintains offices and operations in the United States, Europe, and Asia. For more information on how AerSale’s integrated solutions and global network can keep your aviation assets airborne and working profitability from first flight to final flight, visit www.aersale.com. or contact us.