Private Jet Aviation

5 Questions Everyone Should Ask About Aircraft Maintenance

Most people agree on the basics: An aircraft should be clean inside, everything should be working, and it should be well-maintained. From there the definitions of “great maintenance”  get murky depending on who you ask. This month we explore the importance of great maintenance by asking five questions everyone should ask about aircraft maintenance.

1. How old is that airplane, anyway?
2. Who maintains the airplane (or, what percentage of the time do mechanics employed by you directly service the aircraft)?
3. How often does a mechanic inspect the aircraft?
4. How often does the aircraft return to its home base?
5. Do the pilots and the mechanics know their airplane (or, how many pilots and mechanics are assigned per aircraft?)

Don’t be duped by aggressive salesmen, glossy brochures, or promises about how fleet size and “bigger is better” makes the difference in safety and maintenance. Simply ask our questions and seek short, uncomplicated answers.

1. How old is that airplane, anyway?

You may have flown on an airliner that is older than you are, but private jets simply aren’t designed to be flown for decades on end. Your private aviation provider should be able to provide you with the aircraft vintage of your choice. We do not recommend private aviation aircraft manufactured more than 20 years ago as amenities you have grown accustomed to may not be available and the dispatch reliability begins to fall off after a specific age. Aircraft right off the assembly line are no better, as newer technology often comes with flaws and bugs that must be discovered during the first few years of operation. It is not uncommon for very new aircraft to have a very low dispatch reliability rate. If your private aviation provider cannot speak to the exact year and serial number of the aircraft and clearly explain the advantages and disadvantages of specific airplanes, keep searching.

2. Who maintains the airplane (or, what percentage of the time do mechanics employed by you directly service the aircraft)?

The bigger the operator, the more likely almost all of their maintenance is outsourced to providers not intimately familiar with each aircraft. Some of the biggest fleet operators maintain less than seven percent of their own aircraft on any given day. This leads to lower dispatch reliability and more aircraft swaps, crew swaps, and maintenance delays. Smaller operators are more likely to maintain their own aircraft and rely on the manufacturer for periodic heavy maintenance, thereby increasing dispatch reliability and reducing maintenance delays. 

3. How often does a mechanic inspect the aircraft?

The most reliable operators have the aircraft inspected by one of their own mechanics at least once every 48 hours. The larger the operator, the less likely a mechanic familiar with the specific airplane will be hands-on, continuing their intimate relationship with their own aircraft. Big fleet operators simply cannot maintain the same reliability that smaller, experienced operators can. 

4. How often does the aircraft return to its home base?

Some of the largest operators don’t have aircraft bases. The entire fleet “floats” from stranger to stranger, relying on written records alone and missing the “home-field advantage” that medium to smaller operators have. Ideally, an aircraft should return to it’s home base at least every 48-72 hours.

5. Do the pilots and the mechanics know their airplane (or, how many pilots and mechanics are assigned per aircraft?)

The most successful operators maintain 4.5-6 pilots per aircraft (depending on aircraft mission), assign pilots to specific aircraft, assign a mechanic to each aircraft, and return the aircraft to home base every 48-72 hours. These simple criteria result in the highest rates of dispatch reliability and the lowest rates of maintenance delays. Salesmen that attempt to dissuade clients and members from the importance of these core criteria are working for their commission, for the profitability of the operator, or both.

Your team at Magellan Jets works for you and only you to guarantee that you own your entire trip, from doorstep to doorstep, every time. We work for you in the marketplace to ensure the operators we ask to join our network meet our strict standards for safety and maintenance and are well-equipped to exceed your personal standards for success on every flight.


 


 

Aircraft maintenance is very important. Should you require assistance answering the above five questions, or any other questions you may have, please do not hesitate to contact me. I have decades of experience operating aircraft in a variety of environments and operating quality control and safety assurance systems. I remain at your service, 24/7/365.

Todd Weeber
Your Personal VP of Services and Support

Learn More Here

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