At one point or another, we’ve all experienced a delay on an aircraft. In fact, according to the Bureau of Transportation, 23% of flights in 2022 were delayed. Whether it’s due to adverse weather conditions, an airplane arriving late, or complying with flight crew rest requirements, being delayed is undoubtedly frustrating. For aviation operators, when it’s a defect that caused the delay, it’s not only frustrating, but it also costs your company time and money.
Tracking and managing repeat defects is paramount because they chip away at your bottom line, especially when it comes to maintenance costs, customer satisfaction, and overall reliability.
In order to decrease the number of technical problems on an aircraft, defect management software is a great tool for any aviation team to utilize, and having an advanced web-based system that is mobile-friendly can help you detect recurring problems.
Let’s take a look at what the defect management process in aviation entails and how utilizing software can make tracking repeat defects easier, ensure more uptime, and provide a better work environment for your team.
What are the most common types of defects?
Multiple types of defects exist, and most are classified as either a pilot defect, a maintenance defect, a maintenance control defect, or a work order that's been raised by fleet scheduling. These defects can be generated from multiple teams within an organization for different needs and purposes.
Having a software system in place for your organization will not only help your team keep track of the different defects the aircraft is experiencing but also inform operators about the ones occurring most often so they can identify trends and run reports for quick inspections.
How are defects tracked?
In the aviation industry today, it is common practice to log defects in a paper logbook. This involves entering a description of the fault, followed by a record of the corrective action taken if any troubleshooting or fix has been carried out. Subsequently, the defect or corrective action is manually entered into the operator's tracking system, which is typically done by maintenance technicians or tech records personnel at a later time or date after the rectification has been carried out.
Some larger carriers use electronic logbooks, which can work with defect management software for real-time reporting. It’s beneficial to use an electronic logbook, especially when technicians and flight crews can easily get an ATA number wrong or erroneously transpose a number when tracking defects by hand. With spelling mistakes, abbreviations, and miscoded ATAs throughout a paper logbook, reports on the history of the aircraft become hard to read and understand, and likely not as detailed as they should be.
All of this leads to an increased difficulty for engineers to get to the root cause of the problem. The best way to track is not with pen and paper, but with software that can analyze maintenance data by using a proprietary text-mining engine and machine learning to reveal many recurring aircraft defects that are often missed by traditional analysis, improving the accuracy of the overall data by up to 80 percent.
What happens once a defect is reported?
Once a defect is reported, a technician will review the defect, perform troubleshooting on the spot, or take it back for additional diagnosis with the primary focus being to establish whether the defect can be rectified or deferred. After that’s determined, the technician enters the defect into the maintenance tracking system.
Using software ensures that this is a more efficient process, allowing a team to view the history of the tracked defects, which ultimately saves time researching and maintaining an aircraft.
Can additional defects be reported from a previous issue?
From time to time, additional work action or troubleshooting steps may come up as a result of previous work actions against any given issue, resulting in an additional defect.
When technicians are working from a defect to solve an issue, they initially perform a corrective action. Based on initial troubleshooting, someone in technical services may create an additional work action under another name, so there will be an add-on to the original defect. These work actions will be created, and then a work order or non-routine will be sent back to the line maintenance crew to inform them about the additional work actions that are required.
Additional defects can come up in many ways, including:
- A technician working on the problem directly and raising new troubleshooting actions to verify or confirm a problem.
- An engineering team or reliability team creating additional defects to confirm or troubleshoot a given issue or symptom that was observed.
- A defect that is raised by a planning department as part of an ongoing defect investigation.
- A defect that is raised due to the scheduling of a part replacement at the next available ground stop.
How can repeat defects be managed or tracked?
If a company is not currently using repeat defect management software, operators are most likely printing out their repeat issues by day, week, or month. Then they have to create a spreadsheet to organize it. In this case, the room for error increases drastically when writing down defects in a logbook by hand because a number could be written down incorrectly, which leads to the defects not being captured accurately or quickly.
With repeat defect management software, operators can identify those repeat issues more efficiently because it can track how many delays happened on the first defect, second defect, or third defect, which allows clients to reduce or even eliminate delays and cancelations before they ever happen by knowing when they are most likely to occur.
What are some of the challenges with managing defects?
Many of the defects that are seen in the aviation industry are repeat defects. The challenge isn’t so much that they aren’t getting reported, it’s that maintenance and engineering teams don’t have the proper tools in place — making it appear as if it has been resolved when it hasn’t and symptoms return after a period of normal operation. In the situation where a defect becomes a repeat or recurring defect, many organizations are relying on outdated or inefficient processes or technologies for properly managing defects.
What's next for repeat defect management software?
ATP is constantly incorporating new features based on customer feedback. Currently, work is being done on a diagnostic tool to integrate into the system, as well as a dashboard to allow clients to use a comparative tool with the rest of the worldwide fleet including an option to share info across the industry. These new features will help identify if a repeating defect is prone to a particular aircraft, the crew maintaining the fleet, or the location. This will then help to automate some of the work that is currently being done by hand that is not trackable in an easy way.
A defect management software program can change processes, save time, and help teams act quickly saving money and improving reliability. Having a complete solution in place for automatic repeating defect identification of chronic aircraft problems, reoccurring detection resolution management, and defect analysis to improve aircraft safety and reliability is second to none.
If you’re ready to enhance the performance of your team by improving the accuracy of repetitive aircraft issues detection, contact us today for a customized demo.