SINGAPORE--Japan Airlines is a bit of a phoenix that has risen past adversity and now has an engineering division that is striving toward achieving the highest safety goals, what it terms zero, zero, 100: zero irregular operations and inflight shutdowns; zero flight squawks and 100% on-time departure.
Japan Airlines Engineering Co. (JALEC)’s goals are based on a paradigm shift—striving for “maintenance to create a failproof aircraft” instead of “maintenance to repair an aircraft when it fails,” says Yasuo Yoshida, VP maintenance, corporate planning and finance, speaking at Aviation Week’s MRO Asia-Pacific.
Since starting its zero, zero, 100 safety goals in 2017, JAL’s flight operations have improved. One big achievement is not having any inflight shutdowns in 2018 and none in 2019 to date, says Yoshida. This is a first for JAL.
He also revealed that the airline's on-time domestic and international on-time departure rate is more than 99.38%, as of August.
“We’d like to be the first MRO” to reach the zero, zero, 100 goals, he says. While he says some people think the airline’s goals are “far too high” or “may sound crazy,” he says they were largely driven by three detrimental things: the crash of a flight JA8119, a Boeing 747 that crashed in 1985 and resulted in 520 deaths; the Japan Civil Aviation Bureau issuing a “business improvement order” in 2005 after a series of three unsafe events; and the airline filing bankruptcy in 2010 after accumulating $264 trillion in debt.
“We had given so much trouble to society due the accident and bankruptcy that we felt that we needed to give back,” says Yoshida.
JAL relisted on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in 2012 and stated its rebirth.
It established a safety promotion center and started a series of innovations that included decreasing high-frequency squawks in line maintenance. In addition, it also created failure prediction programs and expanded analysis skills to frontline employees.
The airline plans to open a new energy-efficient maintenance center at Tokyo Narita International Airport in 2023 that places production control in the center surrounded by aircraft, component, airframe and warehouse areas to promote more cohesive operations.
It is also investing in new technologies such as additive manufacturing, virtual training using HoloLens and robotics.
“We will never forget the accident and it will never happen again. We will try to reach the absolute safety and highest quality by 2027,” says Yoshida.