Moving from Part Fulfillment to Fleet Uptime: Changing the Conversation in Aircraft Maintenance

The aviation industry has traditionally been a pacesetter for service efficiency due to the high cost of unavailable aircraft. One approach to servicing aircraft came out of a United States Air Force (USAF) initiative called high-velocity maintenance (HVM) - a program designed to accelerate maintenance depot operations for the purpose of increasing aircraft availability.

HVM strives to streamline logistics processes while maximizing depot productivity and minimizing turn-around times. Achieving this capability entails understanding the relationships of all of the resources and processes required to execute a single maintenance event. While this is often associated with the USAF initiative at Warner Robins, HVM can be applied to any complex aviation system.

Building an HVM initiative

The global and dynamic nature of the aviation industry commands a holistic view of all the functions associated with maintaining an aircraft:

  • Field and depot
  • Maintenance schedules and information
  • Material life-cycles
  • Technicians
  • Part inventories
  • Tools
  • Symptoms and solutions

In order to move from part fulfillment metrics, which do not directly translate to fleet availability, the aviation industry should continue to focus on optimizing its service supply chains in a way that maximizes operating hours and fleet availability. There are four steps organizations managing aviation supply chains must take to reach this end:

  1. Establish a target fleet availability rate.
  2. Forecast parts demand based on scheduled maintenance events, part criticality, part life-cycle data, aircraft activity, historical performance, and other variables.
  3. Consider the relationships between supply chain echelons when stocking inventory (this practice is associated with multi-echelon inventory optimization).
  4. Ensure your parts stock can support fleet availability targets without exacerbating inventory costs. 

Collectively, these steps turn the focus away from part fill rate and toward aircraft availability. A fill rate of 90% doesn't guarantee an airline will be able to use the aircraft it needs to fly customers. The other 10% of missing parts could result in a delayed or cancelled flight. This is an example of why aviation logistics should align with flight operations.

If you want to learn more about high-velocity maintenance, check out our SlideShare outlining seven factors you should take into account when implementing such a strategy.