Air Canada follows a similar approach. The airline's fleet is tracked from a centralized maintenance center where the AOG team is headquartered. “We have maintenance coordinators, an engineering support group and a maintenance planning group,” says Mark Bentley, manager of commercial project integration. “If a hangar or manpower is required, or if we need to procure parts and materials, there are teams to support those as well.”
Traditionally, AOG work has been a relationship-based business where one airline scratches another's back. “There is a real camaraderie between the AOG desks because we are all vulnerable,” says Bentley. “We are all competitors, but we support one another.”
While relationships still count, airlines are increasingly bringing a prepare-and-execute structure to enable those relationships. “The most effective AOG desks are the ones that plan up-front so that when an event occurs, they have a script they can execute,” Prentice says. “It's all about pre-planning the recovery options.”
AOG professionals say that you cannot plan for an AOG event. But you can prepare a response. “An AOG is inherently an unplanned event,” says John Avery, director of supply-chain solutions for AJ Walter. “But you do know some things that you can prepare for. You know what aircraft you are going to fly and you know to what locations you are going to fly.”
Based on those two factors, airlines determine what parts they need to have where, whether they should own or borrow them and how they are going to move them in an emergency.
Air Canada starts the process with a list of the parts identified on the aircraft manufacturers' essentiality required parts. That list is augmented by reviewing the airline's past history, including the frequency at which specific parts were required for an AOG priority. In addition, Air Canada considers the impact on operations of seasonal changes, such as cold weather. Finally, it considers whether the aircraft flies a route on a regular or seasonal basis.
“Many of our routes and equipment change by season,” Bentley says. “We will either reposition our essentiality required parts, or we will tell our pool partners that we're now flying a different fleet type and renegotiate the pool.” If necessary, he adds, they may also have to match mechanics, ground-handling equipment and facilities to the equipment flying to a route.
Once the list of required parts and locations has been determined, there are at least four approaches to sourcing materials:
•Stock a range of critical parts at the locations where the airline flies the most, especially at hub locations.