Delta Air Lines is one of the largest commercial airlines in the world with over 700 aircraft in their fleet. They also operate the oldest fleet of the big four airlines in the United States. An old aircraft fleet will have lots of reliability problems if not managed well. However, Delta has consistently increased its operational performance over the last 5 years. It’s most recent milestone is achieving over 220 cancellation free days in 2016, the best in the company’s entire history. In January’s Delta Sky Magazine Delta’s CEO credits the company’s reliability initiatives for achieving that high level of aircraft operational availability.
A reliability program plan can have a significant impact on aircraft operations helping reduce unplanned maintenance and keep aircraft operational availability high. Delta knows this and decided to focus their resources on squeezing value from their existing fleet.
How Delta did it
A effective reliability program systematically tracks failures across an aircraft fleet, ranks them for impact on cost, maintenance man-hours and operational availability (“up-time”). With that information, reliability engineers can prioritize their efforts on the highest impact issues across the fleet.
It’s not uncommon for the same issues to occur over and over, because when an aircraft is on the ground (AOG) unable to fly because of a maintenance issue, the maintenance personnel are focused on restoring the aircraft to operational status, and rightly so. However, until the root cause is addressed, reliability may not improve.
The reliability program should open an engineering investigation on each reliability issue that meets an economic qualifier or threshold to determine the root cause. It is important to focus limited reliability engineering resources on your most critical issues, which are usually safety and economic impact.
Once the root cause analysis has been completed a permanent corrective action is designed, approved and implemented, solving the problem for good.
It’s very impressive what Delta has been able to accomplish, especially considering its old fleet.
If you would like to lower costs and increase your aircraft operational availability, consider hiring an expert to bring your reliability program to the next level. We would be honored if you considered Aging Aircraft Consulting!
All the best in 2017!