Business aviation community leaders continue to come out in support of the flight technician. As we all know, maintenance plays a big role in flight support in so far as keeping our aircraft; military, commercial and private executive, not only safe, but fit for purpose and mission-ready.
The NBAA, long-standing champion of the industry, run many initiatives to oversee and enhance the profession, including the all-important maintenance sector. Established service networks for operators, maintenance repair organisations (MROs) and in-house aircraft support departments encompass a wide range of services from the routine tasks to major overhaul, upgrades and repairs.
Aside from, yet a critical part of the maintenance sector, involves the reliable delivery of communications if ground-delays and issues are to be avoided, settled and dealt with as quickly as possible. One of the latest initiatives from the NBAA is the formation of a Connectivity Group, who are tackling global airborne communications.
Many types of issues are handled by the MRO, including IT discrepancies and in-flight data connectivity. It is not only repair issues that could require an ‘approval for return to service’ order.
NBAA committee members are looking to provide guidance to flight crews and cabin staff in order for them to be capable of addressing passenger problems with connectivity in the air, and also training to allow these personnel to handle on-board data systems, such as business aircraft connection installations.
Maintenance professionals do not always receive exposure to data network connectivity and this can pose a challenge within the industry in terms of the support structure. Most new issue aircraft, particularly in the business aviation sector include varying degrees of digital data transfer capabilities. Technicians and MROs need specialist knowledge of installation, inspection and diagnosis in order to effectively and efficiently dispatch aircraft.
The committee is currently most keenly focussed upon the aircraft technician as the industry as a whole begins the definite shift to NextGen systems. It has teamed up with industry organisations to address the issue of enhanced training within the connectivity arena.
With professional shortages predicted over the coming years it is an area that has raised the most concerns and will be addressed as a matter of urgency. The NBAA Maintenance Committee Regulatory Group is handing the issue of technicians dealing with analogue regulations as the industry shifts to a digital world and has suggested that the formation of partnerships with the FAA to provide industry guidance and to accomplish directives for electronic documentation.
Maintenance can be a grey area within the industry, although playing a critical role. Messaging capabilities need to be seamlessly reliable if a smooth, efficient process from the routine tasks on the ground to the IT issues in the air. Providers, such as Rockwell Collins’ ARINC deliver millions of Type B messages every day for thousands of customers over the robust system architecture that the AviNet network has held strong for more than 50 years.