•Participate in an industry pool organized at meetings of the International Airline Technical Pool. “An airline like British Airways might offer to be the pool provider for a range of part numbers at Heathrow [Airport], and a number of airlines will join that pool,” explains Avery. “A formula determines the cost for sharing that part among the people in the pool.”
•Develop a bilateral loan and borrowing agreement between two airlines stating that they will coordinate the provisioning of parts at a discounted rate. Air Canada or United may negotiate commercial terms with British Airways for access to parts at Heathrow or with Lufthansa in Germany. In return, they will provide access to parts under similar terms at locations in the U.S. or Canada.
•When all else fails, fall back on the kindness of other airlines, original equipment manufacturers and distributors. “If an aircraft is stuck and the only part is from a non-approved supplier, rules for strategic procurement are irrelevant if the part is airworthy,” says Avery.
While an AOG is still a relationship-based event, technology is streamlining the process. “Ten or 15 years ago, I went through a Rolodex to try to find an airline that could help me when I was on the ground in a specific location,” says Bentley. “Today, we share our parts catalog electronically with our partners and we're able to see each others' available inventory.”
Air Canada relies on AeroAOG, the parts search engine and trading platform from Aeroxchange. The tool allows a participating airline to enter the AOG location, the part number needed as well as a proximity search to determine where the nearest parts are. “Once you've identified a source, you can begin working the phone lines, call a partner and propose a transaction,” says Koszarek.
AeroAOG is also designed to manage the terms of a loan-and-borrowing relationship electronically. “The transaction may begin as a loan and close as a purchase or begin as a loan and close as an exchange,” Koszarek says. “The system allows you to manage the transaction as it occurs.”
Technology is also playing a role in the transportation of the part. Logistics providers such as B&H Worldwide push updates on the progress of critical parts out to their airline and MRO customers (AW&ST MRO Edition, Feb. 11, p. MRO14). DB Schenkeraeroparts, for instance, staffs AOG desks on a 24/7 basis at 36 locations around the world. Once the source location for a part is identified, DB Schenker's system provides full visibility into the progress of every shipment, including transit time calculations and traffic lights that illustrate real-time milestone status.
United is taking that concept one step further and creating an internal system to scan and track its AOG shipments. “The idea is to scan the AOG part onto an aircraft and then track it in our system, similar to how we track passenger bags,” says Rosa. The airline is exploring ways to track the part within the warehouse as well.
Although many AOG practices have been in place for years, new strategies to source materials are emerging.