As the newest widebody in service, it seems that the Airbus A350 has only been flying for a blink of an eye, so it’s somewhat disconcerting to hear about upcoming base maintenance for the aircraft.
That is what will happen, however, later this year when HAECO Hong Kong receives its first Finnair A350-900 for a C check.
As the European launch customer for the A350, Finnair started commercial operations in October 2015.
When Airbus designed the maintenance program for the A350, it did so around its "usage parameter" concept, under which the operator has the flexibility to choose the timing of the tasks to be performed depending on aircraft utilization.
And while Airbus largely sought to eliminate traditional letter checks, for the A350 it did plan for a base check interval of up to 36 months, which Finnair appears to have under-shot by at least 10 months.
No doubt the airline has timed the maintenance down-time to fit most conveniently into its schedules, and, indeed, Airbus’ less rigid approach to maintenance intervals was to give operators greater flexibility.
Also, under the usage parameter approach, A350 maintenance planning does not include a lot of time-driven tasks. This means that, depending on the individual airline’s operation, an accumulation of tasks can occur sooner or later in time.
Writing for MRO Network in 2013, the manufacturer said it wanted to avoid “the development of a too conservative approved maintenance program.”
Airbus had wanted to reduce the number of A350 base checks from an average of eight for previous-generation aircraft to four, culminating in a 12-year heavy check that would comprise 1C, 2C and 4C checks.
“Within a base check, our target is not only to reduce the number of tasks, but also to shorten the elapsed time to perform similar tasks,” the company wrote during the A350’s development.
Finnair plans to have 11 A350s by the end of the year.