Beating the Clock With an Aircraft On Ground
Every minute having an aircraft is on ground (AOG) with an unexpected maintenance event is a race against the clock to return it to service.
We’ll go behind the scenes to see how our Mobile Repair Team (MRT) in North America and NV Jets’ maintenance technicians worked together in Las Vegas to fix an engine and return an aircraft to service, giving the owner a memorable birthday present.
A pressing aviation maintenance situation
It was a Thursday night at McCarran International Airport in Las Vegas, John Mangum, Director of Maintenance at NV Jets, had a Leer 60 that was grounded. Its PW305A needed emergency repair to make an upcoming flight scheduled for that Monday, only four days away.
One call to P&WC’s Customer First Centre (CFirst) activated a team of professional problem-solvers whose mission was to get the Learjet 60 airborne again. The troubleshooting team members at the Montreal-based call centre are experts in remote diagnostics. They determined that the compressor surge in the engine required replacing the bleed valve and bleed valve solenoid. CFirst recommended the services of the P&WC Mobile Repair Team (MRT) to repair the aircraft on site.
Getting the aircraft on ground back in the air
At 10 p.m. that night, Mike Hodge, the MRT Manager in West Virginia, received the service ticket email and sprang into action. The speed of a repair often hinges on both the time needed for mobile repair team technicians to travel to the aircraft and the availability of necessary parts. There was no time to lose.
Thursday night, Mike called John Mangum to assess NV Jets’ upcoming flight commitments and repair timeline expectations. Next, Mike’s team secured the necessary parts and dispatched the technicians: Chris Goodall based in Los Angeles and Malcom Dinges flying in from Houston – less than 12 hours after the initial aircraft on ground call was received.
Mike Hodge explains, “It’s a challenge to make sure that our technicians are qualified on the full range of engines and applications at all times. In the case of the NV Jets aircraft, it was a popular aircraft so there is a higher level of experience across the entire team, giving me a large pool of technicians to draw from.”
Technicians get to work
En route to the aircraft, the two MRT technicians already knew what repairs needed to be done, after verifying the next steps upon arrival Friday evening. They got to work, immediately opening the engine on wing. They knew it would take about six hours just to reach the bleed valve and solenoid.
They returned the aircraft to service at 7 p.m. on Saturday night. Not only was the Learjet 60 returned to service a day earlier than promised, but the owner was able to meet a trip schedule that happened to coincide with her birthday.
The timeline for repairs is all about the operator’s expectations and trying to meet or exceed them.
About the team
Mike Hodge has spent the last 27 years with P&WC engine services and oversees a team that includes 17 MRT technicians who support the U.S., Canada, Mexico and Central America. Pratt & Whitney Engine Services has 6 U.S. Service Centers with 96 Airframe & Powerplant technicians who also provide onsite support. Technicians are deployed an average of 1,200 times per year in the U.S., supported by a team that includes repair coordinators, parts & materials coordinators and administration staff who work together to ensure you have the best service with the quickest turnaround times.
P&WC’s North American service pledge is based on our mantra of “1-8-24”
- From the time you request assistance from CFirst, you will have a plan for maintenance and a timeline for repairs within one hour.
- If the aircraft is grounded, the MRT team does everything they can to have a technician on site within eight hours, pending availability of parts and the travel time of available technicians.
- Once the technicians reach the AOG, the goal is to have the aircraft return to service within 24 hours.