Help Your Airline's Spare Parts Organization Survive a Merger


In the transition plan you submit to the FAA, you’ll have to specify any changes you intend to apply to your maintenance, planning and scheduling system, including those applicable to your spare parts and materials inventory.

I’m not going to pretend that I can cover everything you need to know about merging two spare parts inventories in a 400-word article, but I can at least cover the basics. When you’re combining materials operations with another air carrier, where should you begin?

Figure out who will handle planning

Will your own airline assume responsibility for material planning or will the other carrier? Did the carrier outsource its inventory planning to an MRO or third-party logistics provider? If so, when will the contract expire?

Determining which organization will assume responsibility for parts planning involves assessing the planning resources at each team’s disposal. Is one using a service parts management system while another is using an ERP or spreadsheet application? Overall, how much capital is invested in each team?

Agree on a part numbering system

After determining which planning organization with survive the merger, reassess your part numbering schemes. You may decide to adopt either the other carrier’s part numbering system or your own. In that case, you’ll have to manually go through your BOM data to match the other party’s part numbers with your own.

If you want to scrap both of your existing part numbering systems, I’d recommend replacing it with an intelligent part numbering scheme as opposed to an unintelligent one. The reason being that your parts directly affect maintenance. Therefore, the part numbers should denote what a part actually is (an afterburner, a seatbelt buckle), its function (avionics, engines), and the aircraft model on which it belongs.

For example, the part number CMPR-003-PW1100G-JM-A320, could tell a technician that an Airbus A320 needs a compressor that’s a part of a Pratt & Whitney 1100G-JM engine.

Consider where your parts planners will get data

Identify and agree on sources for data to factor into inventory forecasts. Some common sources may include:

  • Each aircraft’s BOM.
  • The surviving ERP system(s).
  • The MRO application in use.
  • Any aircraft with Internet connectivity capabilities.

The latter source may be difficult to tap into, the obvious reason being that not all aircraft will have sensors capable of dumping their data into MRO applications when they’re grounded. Consider this source as a “wish list” item.

One thing to keep in mind regarding all of this: The devil’s in the details. If you’d like to discuss the implications of merging spare parts inventories with me personally, feel free to leave a comment, and I’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

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