Today we introduce Jaime Bestard, Technical Director & Chief Operating Officer di Albastar

15 April 2020

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Aircraft Maintenance

Every day, thousands of people take a plane for personal or business reasons and, although it is statistically one of the safest ways to travel, many people are afraid to fly.

The fear of flying is strongly linked to several factors, many of them associated with other fears, such as the fear of enclosed spaces, the fear of height, the fear of crowded spaces and lack of control. About the latter, we interviewed JAIME BESTARD Technical Director & Chief Operating Officer of Albastar and asked him to tell us how and how often an aircraft is being maintained.

How and when is an aircraft being maintained?

It is done continuously. For the aircraft, its systems and components, as well as for the engines and the APU (auxiliary powerplant that provides both electrical and pneumatic supply). In general, there are two types of maintenance: line maintenance that is carried out on the airport ramp during the operations of the aircraft, carried out by the technical maintenance personnel and by the Pilots, and the base maintenance, with greater scope during a planned stop of the aircraft in a hangar, carried out by technical maintenance personnel with the support of the Continuous Airworthiness Management Organization (C.A.M.O.) engineering.

It must be said that preventive maintenance tasks are defined in a maintenance program that is fed by a reliability program. The reliability program that is developed by the C.A.M.O., which is the hallmark of the airline and is the key to providing the greatest operational availability of the fleet and avoiding operational interruptions. Its development considers the age of the fleet and its annual use. AlbaStar’s current annual average dispatch technical reliability is such that 99.2% of flights are made less than 15 minutes delayed.

How often is an airplane checked?

An airplane is always controlled. The Pilots are trained to do it during the flight, and after each landing they report, if they have observed any anomaly, in the technical book (TLB) for their correction. In addition, Pilots carry out a line maintenance inspection during transit between flights to validate the condition of the aircraft for the next flight. The Pilots are trained annually in these maintenance inspections and are fully integrated into the C.A.M.O., in constant communication with the Maintenance Control Center (MCC) department.Daily inspections are also carried out by technical maintenance personnel.

From the C.A.M.O. as an engineering organization that ensures the continued airworthiness of the fleet, the performance of aircraft systems is continuously monitored. Led by Reliability Engineering. Depending on the results of preventive maintenance inspections and through the reliability program, the maintenance program is updated both in the content of the inspections and in the periodicity of these. To establish a predictive maintenance, anticipating system and component failures and to minimize operational impact and delays. This predictive maintenance is one of the pillars of the SMS (Safety Management System).

It is in this area of ​​predictive maintenance where a great change is going to take place in the industry. Safety levels are really very high as a result of methodologies developed in the last 30 years, but, still, predictive maintenance gives rise to a new approach for greater efficiency of operations, also providing an additional plus to safety. My vision is that within a maximum period of five years, air operators will have incorporated the Big Data concept into operations, in such a way that it will be common to receive, in real time, after each flight, all the information on the performance of the systems and of its components so that the C.A.M.O. engineers establish the actions to be taken on the aircraft and study the trends on which to carry out predictive maintenance to improve operational reliability and safety of operations. Clearly, a competitive advantage. That is, that from the sensors installed in the aircraft we will be able to obtain the performance of the components of the systems, and therefore plan their replacement at the most efficient moment for the continuity of the operation, and increase the operational availability of the aircraft. In this sense, we have already begun to take our first steps for the installation of hardware in the aircraft that allows us to increase this predictive maintenance. For the analysis of the Big Data that represent all the performance inputs of the aircraft systems, the intended predictive maintenance results. As a reference, I will mention that one of the leaders in the implementation of this concept among the American operators of the B737-800 is Delta Airlines, which currently, together with KLM, are working on increasing parameters, Big Data, installing more sensors in the systems and components of their aircraft.

– Who guarantees/certifies the effective maintenance of the aircraft?

It is the combination of two organizations, the C.A.M.O. of the airline and each of the maintenance organizations with European EASA Part 145 certification that performs the maintenance. And recently, to reinforce the efficiency and quality level for flight safety, both organizations must have an integrated SMS system. That means, each organization will have additional processes and procedures in place to maintain and, if possible, increase the level of safety in operations. In this sense, AlbaStar is certified with the IOSA certificate issued by the IATA Organization, which ratifies the level of compliance with the implementation of the safety management system (SMS).

The C.A.M.O. ensures that the airworthiness requirements are met at all times and that the maintenance actions of Part 145 are in accordance with the established regulations. According to the maintenance program and following the instructions of the aircraft manufacturer’s approved documentation.

In summary, the C.A.M.O. ensures that all necessary maintenance tasks are carried out, and the EASA Part 145 maintenance center ensures that the tasks are carried out in compliance with current regulations and in accordance with their approvals.

In addition, the C.A.M.O. manages the availability of all types of components at all times, ensuring their availability at any airport and within the required time