Did you know, 12% of Aircraft accidents are caused by Maintenance Error. Majority of the Maintenance Error are caused due to improper documentation. In the event of any aircraft accident the regulatory body investigates immediately on the physical site and skims through the Maintenance documentation. Documentation proves and supports the way the maintenance has been carried out. Various Processes evolved in the aviation industry over a period based of the analysis of the documentations.
Back to birth traceability is one of the Vital Process being Practised for tracing Crucial Aircraft Parts, its history.
Maintenance of the aircraft components can be grouped under the following:
- Condition Monitoring
- Hard Time and
- Life Limited Part (LLP)
On-Condition philosophy is to fit and forget. Components undergo on-wing inspections such as operational / functional / servicing checks at a periodic interval and requires replacement only upon failure. Valves, sensors and almost 20 percent of the components fitted in aircraft would be On-Condition.
Condition Monitoring is Fly to Failure concept. Components requires collection, recording and analysis of operational parameters and detailed maintenance information on a regular basis. These information helps to visualize the components performance through Graphical plots and Trends. Trend analysis gives an idea of a possible failure or problem which is going to occur in the future, accordingly the replacement has to be planned and carried out.
Hard time Components are those which has to be removed from the aircraft due life expiry or for carrying out Repair, Overhaul, Inspection and Testing. Off Wing Inspections would be carried out ones an approved Component Repair Shop. Battery, Smoke Detectors and Cylinders are few examples. Less than 10 Percent components fitted in aircraft would be Hard time components.
Certain components require Mandatory discarding after achieving its operational life. Operational life can be in Hours, Cycles and Calendar Time. And such components are called as Life Limited Parts (LLP). Operational limits would be mentioned in the Airworthiness Limitation Section (ALS) of the Maintenance Manual. Beyond the mentioned limit, if being utilized it can be assumed that the component will fail. Hence further fitment of such components on to a Flying aircraft Jeopardizes Airworthiness and Safety. And to mention usually these Life Limited Parts are of high cost. For an Engine more than 20 Percent of its Overall Value would be of its LLP itself. Engine, Landing Gear and sometimes in APU will have Life Limited Parts and it may not be a Line Replaceable Unit (LRU). LLPs are mostly Shop Replaceable Units.
Maintenance Planners tracks separately of such life limited parts. Adequate Planning has to be done for arranging replacement spare, Tools, Resources and maintenance work location. It happens like almost three to six months and in some cases a year before reaching the discard limit the Planning process starts and it would be intimated to Purchase department for procurement. Due commercial and various other reasons procurement team may purchase a Part which may not have proper documentation. Hence, it is of high importance that Inspector would review and verify the component technical records. It involves tracking the components movement w.r.t to the fitment & removal between various aircraft / assemblies, Component condition and Life Limit, from its Birth. Being Crucial and Costly Part, Back to Birth history is required not only during Airworthiness Certification by Regulator but also during the Return of such parts with their parent assembly to the Lessor as per contract terms.
List of Technical Records which would be verified by the inspector (apart from physical inspection) as follows:
- Manufacture / Repair Agency Documents
- Export Certificate of Airworthiness (in case of Engine)
- Authorized Release Certificates (ARC) such as FAA 8130-3, EASA Form 1 or equivalent provided by Manufacture and /or Repair Agency. ARC would have the condition of the component with its utilization details
- Log Cards and Log Book Entries
- Repair Order and Shop Visit Documents
- Operator / Supplier documents
- Statement from the (previous / current) operator if Component being involved in Incident/accident. If so, records for carrying out necessary maintenance and test certified for its airworthiness.
- Record of its operational usage during Cross Fitment and Removal between various serial assemblies. Usually Task cards, packages and log book entries would be such records
- Details of operational usage and remaining life in case operation carried out in normal and or harsh environment, as Life Limit may vary accordingly.
- Source of procurement for replacement such as purchase order (in some cases)
IFS Supports Wide Variety of solutions for Manufacturers, Airlines, MRO, Aerospace, Defence and Service Support. IFS have the capability to issue ARC, Track component movement, monitor condition status change, operating and remaining life, supplier / purchase / repair transaction and operational incidents depending on the industry which is being used. In addition, Historical PDF documents can be uploaded and application search has the capability to extract the document and details regarding the component within micro seconds.
Moving forward Envecon is adapting IFS Applications to next gen technology by involving itself in the Block Chain Approach. Envecon is the IFS Implementation and Solution Partner.
Block Chain helps in identification and tracking of the digital transactions for the components, so it becomes simple and easy. Transparency on the transaction happening between various companies with chronological information across a distributed chain. This helps to avoid counterfeit documents & parts being procured, manual processing of paper-based documents, reduction in time spent for review and an encrypted audit trail.
Be a supplier or manufacturer or operator or MRO block chain is going to be the way forward!
About the author: Karthikeyan A M – Aviation Consultant, having 13 Plus years of exposure supporting maintenance personnel for Scheduled & Non-Scheduled, Passenger & Cargo Operators and MROs. With strong business understanding helping organizations to transform digitally.