LONDON--Minimizing aircraft downtime is a mantra of MRO, but EasyJet is finding that as some of its Airbus aircraft get older, the ground-breaking maintenance program that it started using in 2004 to break up big maintenance checks into smaller overnight packages isn’t working. “The program has worked well up to a six-year point, but as we keep aircraft longer, the program becomes burdensome,” says Brendan McConnellogue, director of engineering & maintenance, EasyJet.
This is leading the low-cost carrier to complete bridge checks on certain older aircraft and return them to more traditional heavy maintenance checks.
SR Technics, working with Airbus, developed the equalized checks in 2004 after EasyJet took its first Airbus A319 in 2003. Instead of grounding aircraft for a C check that usually happens every 24 months and takes 3-6 days, that equalized work is divided in smaller packages, A checks that can be done while the aircraft is parked overnight—not earning revenue—every 750 hours.
At six years, the equalized program spread over 12 years requires one 14-day check. When SR Technics developed the program, it said equalized checks could save EasyJet 27.5 days of downtime over a 12-period, compared to traditional block checks.
McConnellogue says two-thirds of EasyJet’s 332 fleet are on equalized checks and one-third are on more traditional block checks today. The fleet’s average age is seven years. The A320ceo comprises 52% of the fleet, A319ceos 39%, A320neos 7% and A321neos 2%.
Its maintenance and engineering annual expenditures were £313 million in FY18, or £3.28 per seat flown, he says.
He encouraged MROs to adapt to market challenges and innovate. “We need the MRO market to move up with us” and be as focused on turnaround times as it is.