Nowadays more and more non-technical staff of an airline is involved in managing and/or supervising its services, outsourced to third parties. Though they control maintenance, supply and other technical work, only few of them (apart for the technical director) have any extensive technical experience and knowledge. To what extent should such managers possess technical knowledge in order to ensure effective management and supervision of an airline’s fleet?
‘Of course, the technical chiefs of most airlines have an impressive technical background based on both work experience and relevant education. However, the processes, which include search, selection and everyday communication with suppliers, MROs and other related service providers, are usually handled by non-technical managers who do not possess extensive technical knowledge,’ commented the Deputy Head of FL Technics Training Dainius Sakalauskas.
The experienced procurement and account managers working for airlines must ensure that their maintenance-related partners provide services and products in strict compliance not only with the contract, but also with official technical guidelines and requirements. Unfortunately, the performance of such managers may fall short of the standard as they may lack the necessary basic technical knowledge with regard to a specific aircraft type. This, eventually, may lead to unnecessary time wasting while searching and evaluating the MRO providers and component suppliers, as well as additional expenses due to insufficient understanding of the technical issues (particularly during an AOG situation), which, for instance, may lead to acquisition of wrong or unnecessary parts and components. As a consequence, this may trigger miscalculations of a carrier’s maintenance budget.
Furthermore, in their pursuit of better performance modern carriers are always in search for route and fleet optimization solutions. With the discretion provided by leasing agreements, more and more airlines are re-shaping their fleets by phasing-out older and introducing newer generation aircraft or shifting to smaller, regional jets. In any case, the introduction of new aircraft types implies new agreements with maintenance and spare parts providers assigned to support the renewed fleet. However, in order to establish new cooperation agreements, the responsible managers ought to be able to define the scope of services required for a particular aircraft type.
‘Training organizations offer a variety of related programs such as the Familiarization course, which help to define the general layout of major systems of the new aircraft type, as well as to identify maintenance practices, special tooling and test equipment unique to the aircraft type, while using proper terminology and nomenclature. By acquiring such basic technical knowledge in regard to new aircraft managers of airlines will gain the competence, required to ensure higher quality and reliability of outsourced services. Moreover, managers with relevant technical training can ensure smooth introduction of new aircraft types to the fleet and their maintenance afterwards thus enhancing the performance of an airline,’ commented Dainius Sakalauskas.