The Value of Aviation Preventive Maintenance
Correction. Inspection. Detection.
That’s preventative maintenance in its simplest form. By employing the concepts listed above, you can minimize or avoids the disaster of equipment failure. In other words, preventing damaging outcomes.
Preventative maintenance often brings reliability and predictability to a fleet, and Delta Airlines is a prime example of how its diligence has helped it position itself above the average.
According to an 2014 article in Aviation Week, the airline devised a strategy of investing in older aircraft instead of buying only new ones and aggressively managed and controlled maintenance, material and repair costs via preventative maintenance.
Delta’s 740-aircraft mainline fleet logged about 120 days, two to three times a week, without a single maintenance-related cancellation. In fact, it went the entire month of October 2013 without a single domestic cancellation. All of this came while flying a fleet that averages 17 years of age, at least three years older than any notable carrier.
No major carrier profits more from investing in older aircraft than Delta Airlines.
But the airline’s performance is about more than just reliable aircraft. Delta was aggressive about swapping spare planes for faltering ones to keep from canceling flights. This strategy paid off and the airline’s 2013 net profit of $2.7 billion topped all U.S. carriers.
That same year, United Airlines, deferred maintenance on its fleet in favor of easing cash flow. However, the airline quickly learned that doing so created bigger hurdles down the road. Some of the airline’s legacy widebodies, including its 23 graying Boeing 747-400s, were having reliability issues that traced back to maintenance deferrals during the carrier’s mid-2000s bankruptcy.
Determined to catch up, United altered its 2013 aircraft routings and based the 747s in San Francisco, where it has a full-service maintenance, repair and overhaul shop. While that positioned the aircraft for much-needed preventative work, it also pulled them from higher-revenue routes, such as Chicago to Tokyo, costing the airline money.