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Digest
July 2015

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AAR and South African Airways Technical (SAAT) have signed an MoU to establish a joint venture partnership to reduce costs and increase operational efficiencies of the airline’s fleet. The joint venture will also focus on growing SAAT’s MRO services to third-party customers/airlines across the continent. Under the agreement, AAR will provide operational analysis and technical assistance for MRO and warehouse facilities and integrate IT solutions including AAR’s 1MRO Software Suite. AAR has a global reputation in the aviation sector for improving operational efficiencies and turn times, as well as lowering costs through its customer-centric solutions. AAR also will support expansion of SAAT’s component repair capabilities, including landing gear, and potentially support a new MRO facility in West and Central Africa to meet growing regional travel in sub-Saharan Africa and increasing international travel to the continent.

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AAR has redelivered the 500th aircraft to Alaska Airlines. For 12 years, AAR has performed heavy checks and drop-ins, component repair and management on Alaska’s fleet of Boeing 737 Classic and 737NG aircraft. Most of the work has been performed at AAR’s MRO facility in Oklahoma City, which has a service capacity ranging from 6 to 12 lines of maintenance, and performs approximately 1 million man hours a year; nearly 300,000 with Alaska Airlines. AAR provides two continuous lines of overhaul maintenance for Alaska and additionally handles between 50 and 75 drop-in visits annually for the airline. AAR recently exercised the first of two option years under a five-year contract signed with Alaska Airlines in 2012.

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AAR will close its MRO facility in Hot Springs, AR and transfer operations to its Oklahoma City, OK facility as part of the company’s efforts to optimise its assets and improve return on invested capital for shareholders. In response to overcapacity in North America, AAR will locate maintenance for regional aircraft in Oklahoma City by August to better align the capacity of AAR’s 1MRO Network with current market demand. The employees working the two heavy maintenance lines in Hot Springs will be offered employment at other AAR facilities.

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AFI KLM E&M is due to complete construction this summer of its new Helios aerostructures and composites shop at its Paris-Charles de Gaulle site. The Helios project was launched in 2012 with the aim of upgrading AFI KLM E&M’s industrial base and offering enhanced performance to its clients. All the aerostructures facilities at Le Bourget will be brought under a single roof to ensure an optimised aerostructures offering. Helios will in particular have more space for new materials such as composites. The 18,500m² building, built facing the dedicated A380 hangar, will house 250 to 300 qualified experts. The new aerostructures unit is scheduled for handover during the summer, with personnel taking up occupation in September 2015.

 

The Helios building is equipped with large capacity engineering resources, specially designed to receive and process new-generation aircraft. These currently include the A380 and 777 and will subsequently cater to the 787 and A350. In this connection, AFI KLM E&M is especially proud of being granted the UTC Aerospace licence, authorising it to repair Boeing 787 nacelles. AFI KLM E&M is thus one of just four operators worldwide with extremely advanced 787 nacelle capabilities for its own assets and also that of third-party client airlines.

 

Developing an MRO Lab in the new facility means, for example, the ability to deploy new, less environmentally aggressive sanding tools, with less abrasive stripping methods based on pressurised corn starch blasting, for composites and metals alike. The use of scanning tools will be developed to check the various surfaces to be treated or repaired. Hélios will also have precision machine tools for complex work on composite materials.

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Airbus and Aerolineas Argentinas have signed a strategic agreement to establish the first Airbus maintenance training collaboration in South America at the airline’s facilities in Buenos Aires. The venture will deliver maintenance and engineering training services for A320, A330 and A340 aircraft and will implement Airbus’ training standards, including its dynamic trainers and teaching techniques. The agreement will also provide Argentina’s flagship airline with Airbus OEM-backed maintenance training capabilities to its personnel, as well as to third-party customers in the region.

 

Besides integration of Aerolineas Argentinas instructors to the Airbus Maintenance Training Organization Exposition (MTOE), the agreement will also include access to Airbus courseware, instruction media, virtual tools and real aircraft practice. This collaboration will therefore enable Aerolineas Argentinas to deliver the highest standards of engineering training to their own technical staff and to third-party airline customers.

 

The long-established Airbus Training Centre in Miami for Airbus training operations throughout the Americas will serve as a centre-of-excellence for the Buenos Aires operations.

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Airbus and easyJet have announced an innovation initiative to study fault prognosis capabilities to enhance Airbus’ prognostics maintenance eSolutions and services. Airbus’ solutions for prognostics maintenance include services and eSolutions which can receive real-time information from aircraft systems via the ACARS messaging system. This information is then analysed, with fault predictions sent to airline operations teams so they can use it to troubleshoot technical faults as soon as the plane lands or schedule the work into its regular maintenance. As part of the initiative, easyJet and Airbus will study enhanced prognostics capabilities using an extended repository in which to collate data from the worldwide in-service A320 fleet, from easyJet’s fleet and also from Airbus’ own operational benchmark analyses. The resultant ‘data lake’ will subsequently be processed using innovative algorithms. Overall, the enhanced prognostic capabilities would benefit airlines by further enabling their engineering departments to plan for component replacements before issues arise, and identify possible actions to improve fleet operational performance and decrease maintenance cost. easyJet has already reduced from 10 to six delays per 1000 flight movements over the past five years.

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Airbus Consulting Services has signed a contract with Pakistan Airlines International (PIA) for assistance on maintenance and engineering in order to obtain EASA Part 145 Maintenance Organisation Approval. PIA required a third-party assistance to conduct an independent verification. The Airbus team will analyse the organisation, processes and procedures in terms of required means of compliance and the effectiveness of their implementation. Airbus will subsequently provide PIA with recommendations linked to the observed findings and also recommend ‘best industry practices’ to address any issues identified.

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Airbus continues to introduce new ground support courses to support operators for the A350 XWB entry-into-service. The latest four include: the A350 Ramp & Transit course; the A350 Ground Handling course; the A350 Cabin Interior & Emergency Equipment course; and the A350 CAT II CAT III Maintenance course.

 

The A350 Ramp & Transit course is divided into theoretical and practical parts: the theoretical part describes the system and sub-system operation, controls and indicating, transit servicing, checks and minor scheduled line maintenance and defect rectification, while the practical part on synthetic maintenance training devices covers the specific tasks involved in ramp servicing. The course is aimed at technical personnel associated with through-flight maintenance activities, including in-transit and ramp servicing.

 

The A350 Ground Handling course provides theoretical knowledge training up to the General Familiarization level. Similar to the other ground handling courses, Airbus’ customers can also expect to review: aircraft safety and ground handling procedures; practical training in aircraft ground handling and operation of commercial related systems; and location of major components. The course is aimed at ideal for non-technical personnel associated with flight servicing activities, including aircraft ground handling and servicing.

 

The A350 Cabin Interior & Emergency Equipment course allows trainees to operate, test, remove and install all items belonging to the cabin systems, including a combination of theoretical and practical exercises. The course is carried out on the customer’s premises and is aimed at technical personnel associated with cabin maintenance of the aircraft.

 

The A350 CAT II/CAT III Maintenance course is half theoretical and half practical (simulator session) covering the rules and regulations related to CAT II/CAT III operation, with the simulator session covering the specific tests and tasks involved as well as the effects of failure during the approach. It is aimed at technical personnel associated with CAT II/CAT III operation.

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Airbus has developed Line Tool, non-destructive testing (NDT) for inspecting composite structures – such as the external composite skin of the A350 XWB fuselage. If such a structure is subject to potential ramp damage impact, the composite materials require special attention. The device can perform tests on all composite fuselages, using an ultrasound system to detect delamination. This provides the key benefit of reducing the task inspection time from one hour down to only two minutes. Calling in a NDT expert means either taking the aircraft out of service, or having NDT inspectors present at every stopover. Line Tool is the first NDT tool which offers a way of simplifying the art of ultrasonic NDT – which traditionally has been a complex procedure only undertaken     by specialists.

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Airbus has devised a solution to the challenge of rapidly and accurately mapping a 2D shape for a 3D surface of an aircraft – thus accelerating the overall paint cycle time for applying liveries. The solution includes the development of software which projects a 2D image onto a virtual 3D Airbus aircraft using a principle known as conic projection. The software re-flattens the image, keeping the distortions created by the projection onto the 3D shape, and then uses these remapped images to create optically perfect imagery once applied to the real 3D aircraft.

 

The image of a 2D shape normally becomes distorted when projected onto a simple 3D form, such as a cylinder. Moreover, aircraft have some areas such as the nose, tail-plane and tail-cone, which are more complex forms with multiple axis curves (known as ‘progressive surfaces’).

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