Group Editor Marty Kauchak examines the maintenance community’s commitment to aligning its training activities with regulatory agency and other organizations’ protocols and standards.

Maintenance, repair and overhaul organizations, air carriers and other organizations are bolstering the efficiency and effectiveness of their training. While readers of CAT and viewers of the Halldale website (www.halldale.com) are aware of the rapid evolution in learning technologies supporting the community’s maintainers, there are other more subtle, but as significant developments shaping training and education. This article focuses on the commitment of two representative organizations, Delta TechOps and Aerolíneas Argentinas S.A., to ensure their courses and curricula conform to regulatory agency, national and other standards.

Conformance to Regulatory Guidelines

Delta TechOps is the largest airline MRO in North America and the third largest worldwide. The business unit’s portfolio includes delivering third-party instruction from an expanding catalogue of courses to prospective and veteran maintainers in the public and private sectors.

The company’s public sector training customers include the US Air Force, for the Air Force Two (B757 fleet), and the US Navy for its militarized B737 aircraft.

Pete Compitello, a manager for Delta TechOps Training, told CAT this June that his business unit’s diverse civil sector customers include Lockheed Martin (for human factors training), Hawaiian Airlines (A330 training), along with other aviation and airline customers from around the world. The training organization’s aircraft courses cover a wide array of skill sets – from IPC soldering to composite material repair.

The Atlanta-based industry veteran provided several compelling reasons for a second-tier contractor, another MRO or other customers to request maintenance training services from Delta TechOps. “They come to us because the manufacturer may not provide or cannot offer hands-on training for that model aircraft,” he noted and recalled that in one instance Delta TechOps responded to a carrier’s short-notice training requirement. “An airline was purchasing B777s and had a two week, hands-on training package they had to complete for their authority. Boeing couldn’t provide it so they came to us – and we did provide it.”

Delta TechOps also offers prospective customers its operational experience gained from a diverse aircraft fleet – from McDonnell Douglas, to Airbus, to Boeing. “We only provide third party training for those aircraft types which we fly. We have a vast amount of operational experience with these aircraft and we put that real-life experience into our training,” Compitello emphasized.

As significant, Delta Tech Ops’ courses are conformant to FAA and EASA regulatory guidelines – a business model decision that resonates well elsewhere in the civil aviation sector. Indeed, this is one thread of commonality this organization will be shown to share with Aerolíneas Argentinas later in this article.

The industry subject matter expert pointed out the significance of conforming to regulatory agency standards permits the training “to follow” an aircraft through the repair life cycle. “So if British Airways/KLM puts an aircraft into an MRO, that organization’s maintainers have to be trained equivalent to or greater than that airline’s authority’s requirements level,” he added.

An Airline’s Perspective

Aerolíneas Argentinas has a rapidly expanding business portfolio. In one instance the air carrier met its internal forecast and expectations to transport more than eight million passengers in 2013. Engineer Marcelo Ariel González Kiryczun, the airline’s Technical Training and Certifications manager, further told CAT that in order to reach this objective his company concurrently is increasing the number of units and rebuilding its fleet, with a training and certification plan for all pilots and maintenance personnel.

The state-owned, flag carrier of Argentina has a diverse fleet consisting of 63 units of the following models: Airbus A340-200/-300, Airbus A330-200, Boeing 737-700/-800 and Embraer E190. “We expect to reach a total of 73 units soon, in accordance with our business plan,” Kiryczun predicted.

Not surprising, Aerolíneas Argentinas has its own repair station/maintenance organization, which has been in place since the airline’s founding. The air carrier’s cadre of technicians perform maintenance repairs and overhauling of aircraft, engines, auxiliary power units and other components of the carrier’s business fleet and, of special note, those of other neighboring companies.

Similar to his industry colleague at Delta TechOps, Kiryczun emphasized the foundation for his airline’s maintenance portfolio is conformance to agency regulations and standards.

“To such end, it has been certified under Argentine and foreign regulations, firstly as Repairs Aeronautical Shop under RAAC Part 145 (ANAC regulations), secondly as approved foreign Repair Station under FAR Part 145 (FAA regulations), and thirdly as approved Maintenance Organization under EASA Part 145 (EASA regulations),” he explained.

The industry subject matter expert further noted that most of Aerolíneas Argentinas’ routine and emergency tasks are completed by its maintenance personnel in its facilities (five hangars, engines and components shops and one more hangar in building process). “These are based on two main stations located in the province of Buenos Aires, Argentina; with a population of more than 1,600 mechanics, specialists and professionals (personnel to be constantly trained),” he said and added, “Also, since we fly to more than 58 destinations (32 domestic stations and other 26 international/regional), we have almost 190 maintenance mechanics around the world (own personnel and third party hired ones).”

In the life-cycle of an aircraft, certain preventive and corrective maintenance activities are often completed outside the lifelines of the parent airline’s maintenance department. Such is the case of Aerolíneas Argentinas where engine heavy maintenance and other specific components repairs, are delivered to other third party organizations (as Air France Industries, Lufthansa Technik, and other approved MROs) with an important caveat: when maintenance is furnished by third party organizations, the entities must provide Aerolíneas Argentinas with Argentina’s authority acceptance/approval under RAAC Part 145, and foreign ones as FAA under Part 145 and/or EASA under Part 145 certifications (based on aeronautic product type and component rating).

And there is also a training perspective, with Aerolíneas Argentinas mandating the third party organization’s personnel must be trained and certified under every agency approved training program, including EASA Part 147/66 initial theoretical training (if an EASA organization) and EASA/FAR Part 145 for shop practical and recurrent training (under MRO-approved training program). The airline executive pointed out, “This is part of our quality assurance and auditing department acceptance process,” and added, “But in most of the cases, our effort is focused on trying to certify our organization and personnel, based on new investments cost-benefit analysis.”

While Aerolíneas Argentinas makes every effort to deliver “in house” the instruction throughout its maintainers’ continuum of learning (indoctrination, initial, specialized, recurrent and remedial or compensation) based on aerospace industry standards and agencies’ regulations, there are instances when training must be delivered by another organization.

Kiryczun explained in detail that to choose the most appropriate external supplier or source for Aerolíneas Argentinas’ requirements, the airline established a sub-classification method for suppliers to differentiate and qualify possible offers. For this reason, the sources providing training which is authorized based on its own formal approval, condition or certification, are called “primary training sources”. The sources which do not comply with such conditions are audited and assessed by Aerolíneas Argentinas to assure that their training will include appropriate objectives, content information, resources, quality standards, approvals and certifications.

“The mentioned auditing process includes a revision of the training provided, scheme and materials used, a possible consultation with other clients, a revision of the instructor’s qualifications and experience, and finally, the approvals and/or certifications which support the supplier,” he added.

Aerolineas Argentinas’ Technical Training Center is a certified aeronautical training center recognized by the national civil aviation national administration of the Argentine Republic. It is also a National Committee of Communications-approved institute; and this technical training center becomes the technical training and certifications department of the Repairs Aeronautical Shop under RAAC Part 145 (ANAC), approved foreign Repair Station under FAR Part 145 (FAA), and approved Maintenance Organization under EASA Part 145 (EASA).

The airline official modestly pointed out, “Our company has more than 30 years of experience offering training to several market companies and to our own personnel, who nowadays work repairing aircrafts, engines, APUs and aeronautical components of our business fleet. Additionally, the center’s instructor staff has significant experience, knowledge, qualifications and certifications on several airplanes, engines, APUs, specialized training and components; which not only allow us to provide a high quality service to our customers but also satisfy their expectations.”

Aerolineas Argentinas’ customers are, in most of the cases, regional air operators, including Tame, Bahamas Air, Boliviana de Aviación, Argentine Presidency, Conviasa (for training and line maintenance services) and all other air operators that fly to Argentina; and other customers such as New Business Aero (for engine shop training); and its international stations’ maintenance providers such as Avianca (Bogota, Colombia), Miami Tech (Miami), Aeroservice 3000 (Caracas, Venezuela) and AISG (Cancun, Mexico).

On the Horizon

One aerospace official who declined to go on the record to support this article did acknowledge in early July that nations with lower labor costs and other economic advantages provide a compelling business case for attracting an MRO. At the same time, the maintainers at these facilities will need training to allow the organization to meet industry, national and agency, standards and regulations, he acknowledged.

And for other reasons, Compitello foresees a constant, but evolving demand for third-party maintenance training through the next several years. “With the new aircraft types, the airlines are tending to send their maintainers to the OEMs for training. But there will still be a need for third party new aircraft training, and the OEMs are not supporting some of the older fleets as much as they are the newer aircraft. There is still a market for that type of training,” he pointed out.

New Delta TechOps course offerings for third party line maintenance students include aircraft trouble shooting, wiring termination, wiring principles, and others. Compitello concluded, “And while there will always be aircraft-specific repair courses, there will continue to be a demand for niche-type instruction – for troubleshooting, welding and other skillsets.”