According to a Fact Sheet on Airworthiness Directive Compliance, “The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is strengthening the procedures used by air carriers, manufacturers, and the FAA to ensure that air carriers comply with Airworthiness Directives (ADs).” If the FAA is worried about airlines’ compliance with ADs, perhaps you should be too. Whether you’re an OEM, airline or passenger, this issue has an impact on you. The FAA issues ADs to ensure aircraft remain flight worthy. (That’s a fancy way to say that the government insists any airplane that takes-off must be safe to do so.) With so many different makes and models of airplanes, different airlines, routes and airports, and so many mechanics, that’s a tall order. Nevertheless, the safety of the public (both in the air and on the ground) requires it. (Thanks to Lee Ann Tegtmeier of Aviation Week for highlighting this in her MRO blog.)
ADs come in a variety of flavors. Some address potential problems that must be inspected/resolved during the next scheduled maintenance, while others address urgent issues that must be inspected/resolved before the next flight. Regardless of the circumstances, the FAA wants to make sure that ADs are implemented efficiently, consistently and, in certain cases, very, very quickly.
The problem is that aircraft are complex machines and each airline configures and operates each airplane just a little bit differently. As a result, each aircraft is unique, and ADs can be issued that apply only to specific airplanes within a fleet. (For example, some twin-engine aircraft must adhere to ETOPS rules (Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards) and some don’t. It all depends upon the mission/route of that airplane.) This makes it difficult for airlines to know which of the 250 different ADs that get issued each year require their compliance. In fact, after investigating a situation in 2008 that resulted in thousands of cancelled flights the FAA wrote, “The team found that problems in service instructions, workmanship, communications within industry and with the FAA, and FAA inconsistencies in determining AD compliance all contributed to the cancellations and service disruptions.”
Of course, I probably wouldn’t be writing about this if I didn’t think there was a solution. The solution, quite simply, is Enigma. On this blog I try hard not to brag but, as they say, “It ain’t bragging if it’s true.” Furthermore, this is a serious situation (at least the FAA seems to think so). Enigma has already deployed the technology allowing airlines to retrieve ADs from the FAA and automatically connect them to the Aircraft Maintenance Manuals (AMM), Engine Manuals (EM), Illustrated Parts Catalogs (IPC) and any other relevant documents. Furthermore, once this information is in Enigma, the Maintenance Planning Documents (MPD), Master Parts Lists (MPL) and Job Cards will automatically reflect the new requirements within the AD, thereby assuring safety and compliance. (Last week’s blog, about a roundtable with JAL and United, described how they can now immediately deploy critical maintenance information.)
This is a blog post, so it’s meant to be short and sweet. Let me just say, we understand the problem, we have a solution, and we’d love to speak with you about how to quickly fix this situation.