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Shopping for Service?

Aircraft Maintenance Changing with the Times

Aircraft Maintenance Changing with the Times

Just as the retail, travel, and taxi industries have evolved in response to consumers’ realization that there might be a better way to shop, stay, and travel, so too is business aviation changing. New technology now enables you to fly further and faster than ever before, so you can create more revenue and value for your business. You and your flight operations team today are more knowledgeable and better equipped to shop and compare maintenance costs than ever before, with data and information available with the click of a button.

Your aircraft requires regular maintenance, performed at intervals dictated either by the manufacturer or the FAA, to ensure it’s safe and reliable. Some of these scheduled maintenance events are calendar-driven, required monthly or annually; others are dictated by the number of hours flown since the previous event.

While some are just inspections, others require parts replacement or refurbishing, or a system overhaul performed at a shop authorized by the FAA to work on your particular make/model aircraft.

Because there are a variety of both manufacturer-operated and independent maintenance shops so authorized from which to choose, finding the right shop offering the right price can be a time-consuming, even excruciating, task. Shopping for and overseeing scheduled maintenance can be a frustrating and unnecessarily expensive part of aircraft ownership, even for veteran Directors of Maintenance.

Unfortunately, there is no standard pricing template; each organization or shop creates its own model.

A maintenance facility with high overhead may try to cover it with small-print fees, to bring its “Page 1” quote in line with its competitors’ – possibly creating “sticker shock” when you get the bill. That leaves it to your technician to determine in advance:

  • Is the downtime quoted in working days or calendar days?
  • Does pricing include interior removal and installation?
  • Does the facility add charges for defueling and refueling the aircraft?
  • Does the labor rate change for inspection vs. repairing “squawks” (minor malfunctions)?

These questions, and any others you may have, should be answered in a straightforward manner, with all potential variables and options priced clearly. Full transparency and consistency during the bidding process is the goal.

So how can your technician or management company be sure to receive a fair, competitive quote for the required scope of work? Quite simply, there now are online tools available that require the detailed information needed to ensure bid transparency, giving you and your technician peace of mind as you compare and weigh different options.

As the customer, you have the right to request such pricing transparency – with all parts, labor, consumables, and test run costs detailed in the bid. Although some operators may choose a more expensive facility based on perceived value, it’s imperative that your technician or management company be able to examine the hard data, and quickly tally the premium that will be paid for using that facility versus its competitors.

Parts brokers and maintenance brokers are likely to begin to disappear as the industry moves to a more direct-to-consumer business model. Experts and online tools now are readily available to assist you with shopping your inspection and repair requirements, for a fixed, established-in-advance charge, while leaving the final provider selection to you and your technician. 

New aircraft are being designed for improved performance and lower operating economics. Business aviation maintenance will become more transparent and competitive, as routine and unscheduled events are simplified. That will drive down labor revenue for facilities that choose to adapt. While nobody can direct you where to go for maintenance, do simplify the process by making use of the available resources and tools that enable you to select from the wide variety of facilities able to perform your required maintenance safely and efficiently – and at the right price. BAA

Andy Nixon is Co-founder and VP of Sales of MRO Insider, which allows operators to source multiple quotes for maintenance and AOG. With a degree in Aviation Management, he is a fourth generation aviation professional.


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