Optimizing the EASA 145 Production Planning Process in Aircraft Maintenance

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What is Production Planning?

So lets start by saying that production planning has nothing to do with the operator (so not to confuse with the maintenance planning activities which sit within the operators remit).

Production Planning belongs to the Part 145 Production Organisation – To be effective it needs to interface with the PART M Continuing Airworthiness Management Organisation (CAMO) and ideally to be able to influence the CAMO in a positive way.

Production Planning could be considered an art in that we need to effectively bring together a number of disparate elements to obtain the best possible result in the minimum time whilst recognising the importance of Safety, Human Performance and Fatigue Risk Management Systems (FRMS).

What are the challenges?

In the Production Planning environment there are challenges with many of the elements which directly affect the efficiency of the Production Planning Process being outside of the control of the Production Planning Personnel.

Consider the following core elements of Production Planning. As a prerequisite Production Planning should be proportionate to the amount and complexity of the maintenance work being scheduled.

Manpower – The Manpower required to support the maintenance process is one of the most expensive commodities, with the aim to have sufficient manpower when required throughout the check is a major challenge.

A percentage of the work and parts replacement required during heavy maintenance cannot be directly planned as it is triggered by inspection findings. This results in additional manpower requirements which need to be accommodated and if possible allowed for in advance.

Competence – Having Sufficient persons is only part of the story, the people we have must be effective and cable of delivering the work we require in an acceptable time frame. Therefore, the Management and control of Competence becomes a key feature in the delivery of an effective organisation.

Facilities – The available facilities need to meet all objectives in the best way and part of the production planning role is to match the available facilities / workload requirement and manpower.

Tooling – Tooling needs to be available at the point of delivery of the maintenance, short falls and shortages should be minimised, the tooling requirement is typically known or at the very least the information related to the tooling requirement requirements are known. Waiting for tooling results in lost time!

Equipment – As with tooling above all equipment needs to be available to both support the correct access requirements as well as to again minimise lost time.

Technical Documentation – Must cover all the elements of the work being performed or which require support documents to perform research or evaluation – for example standards manual.

Check Pack & Certification – The system of Certification should ensure that all tasks are clearly managed, stage signed and certified where appropriate by suitable authorised persons.

Time Constraints – We only have a limited period to perform the maintenance and therefore need to ensure that we provide the best possible service delivery.

The use of Critical Path Techniques can help us to manage the available resources in the best way.

Spare Parts & Material – The availability of all spares and materials is essential for the effectiveness of the maintenance delivery.

Spare and Materials represents a significant investment for many airlines so there is commercial pressure to minimise holdings where possible. Inventory levels and planned purchases are often not being based on the forward projected requirements as a result shortage will occur – which can impact the production planning process in multiple ways.

Whilst too much material impacts the budget in a negative way, insufficient material will lead to shortages and expensive disconnects and should be avoided at all cost.

In Progress Communication / Hand Over (H/O) – For each of the above elements, the less oversight or direct control which is available within the Production Planning function the harder it is to effect positive change.

Sofema Aviation Service (SAS) www.sassofia.com and SofemaOnline (SOL) www.sofemaonline.com provide both classroom and online training providing EASA Compliant Production Planning training. For details please see the websites or email office@sassofia.com or online@sassofia.com

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