What Kind of Director of Maintenance Are You?

Yeah – there is a shortage of parts. Recent posts that I’ve seen in some of the aircraft managers forums online are that there are no tires available for a particular aircraft model — or that windows and/or other consumables are in short supply and threaten to ground some aircraft.

As I was going to start to put out a warning to our readers to be vigilant and to get out ahead of any parts shortages — I decided to give a friend a call. He happens to run a major MRO and is active in the corporate jet business every day. I asked his opinion on supply chain issues and difficulty finding parts. What I got was a bit harsh — but as I considered it more, I can’t help but think that we sometimes need a reality check.

He asked that I protect his identity, but this is basically what he said:

“If you are a good director of maintenance — you should have seen this coming and could have been able to mitigate the damage and risks associated with operating these high-end aircraft.

“Let’s face it,” he said, “It’s all about PLANNING! You’re supposed to be an elite group of aircraft maintenance managers operating aircraft for companies where money is not the main consideration. And you’re going to allow that aircraft to blow a tire in a remote location and risk having to wait for a replacement tire? How are you going to explain that to the owner of an aircraft? You should ALWAYS be out in front of these situations!”

He goes on to explain that he understands there are some items that are impossible to predict their failure, but as a good maintenance manager you should never find your aircraft grounded for lack of consumable parts! 

He explains that something like a tire can go at any time — a hard landing or hard braking during a landing can destroy a tire in a heartbeat.

Many good managers, he explains, plan for this in advance and carry at least one main tire assembly and one nose assembly onboard the aircraft to mitigate the supply issue. Plus — they have a couple of additional tires in inventory for backup. Of course, the standard argument is that this is a huge expense that can’t be cleared through many “bean counters” at some companies. To that, my source says that’s a weak excuse. “You’re talking about $40 - $60 million dollar assets. If you’re away from home, you can easily be faced with a charter expense of hundreds of thousands to fly your CEO/owner home. I’m not sure how you can justify NOT spending whatever it takes to have a suitable wheel replacement on board! Even if that wheel assembly is $40 to $60 thousand, the expense in the grand scheme of things is minimal.”

Sure, there are some DOMs that “inherit” an operation that hasn’t planned properly — but that’s when you need to take the proverbial bull by the horns and insist that “your” flight department will be mitigating risks.

"PLANNING is what separate the good DOMs from the bad," he says. Don’t be that manager who needs to tell the CEO that he or she can’t use his/her aircraft because you don’t have a spare tire or don’t have the proper tooling. Don’t outsource your operational reliability!

I’m sure I’ll be hearing from a few DOMs who beg to differ on these opinions — I look forward to your perspective on mitigating the shortage of parts and consumables in today’s market.  

Thanks for reading.
Greg Napert, Proud to be an A&P


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D.O.M. magazine is the premier magazine for aviation maintenance management professionals. Its management-focused editorial provides information maintenance managers need and want including business best practices, professional development, regulatory, quality management, legal issues and more. The digital version of D.O.M. magazine is available for free on all devices (iOS, Android, and Amazon Kindle).

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Joe Escobar (jescobar@dommagazine.com)
Editorial Director

Greg Napert (gnapert@dommagazine.com)
Publisher, Sales & Marketing

Bob Graf (bgraf@dommagazine.com)
Director of Business, Sales & Marketing