What does a lessor have to do with SMS, ASIAS, etc.?

aircraft lessor sms
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Aircraft Lessors

Providing Unique Data Insight Into Aviation Safety

largest aircraft lessors1. AerCap

2. GE Capital Aviation Services (GECAS)

3. BBAM Aircraft Leasing and Management

4. SMBC Aviation Capital

5. BOC Aviation

6. Awas

7. Aircraft Leasing & Financing | CIT Commercial Air

8. ICBC Leasing | icbc

9. Aviation Capital Group

According to AirlineTopRankings 2015 the above nine companies are the world’s nine largest aircraft lessors as measured by fleet values. FL Technics estimates that 40% of the world airlines’ fleet are leased from these and other companies. The above-cited article, these institutions…

“…rely on signed contracts but still must trust the lessees or the company they hire to keep aircraft and its documentation maintained meeting appropriate aviation standards. When the time comes to lease aircraft to another company, it has to be inspected to ensure safety and airworthiness. This can be relatively quick and cheap if all the documentation is in order and aircraft has been well kept. In other cases, many findings can be raised which will lead to long inspection term and cost serious money.”

This quote may be an underestimate of the internal technical competence of these dry lessors; more than a few include staffs which are involved in following the airworthiness of their assets. The value of these airplanes is dramatically impacted by at what the specific point along the C and D check cycles, the plane may be. A Boeing or Airbus plane requiring a major overhaul as it comes out of lease poses an expensive period of downtime before it returns to leasable inventory. It is fair to assume that these very smart financial wizards are very aware of each N-numbered exact airworthiness status.

It is correct, however, that the lessee is, in regulatory terms, EXCLUSIVELY RESPONSIBLE for each plane’s compliance with the rules of the airline’s flag country CAA rules. Most countries now insist that their carriers commit to the SMS process. As opposed to the old regime in which universal rules and checklist regulations defined “compliance”, the new SMS approach supports solutions designed for that carrier’s specific problem. The new safety philosophy might result in MX cycles, procedures and even work cards which reflect the strengths and weaknesses of the specific airline.

When a plane leaves XYZ carrier’s certificate and is returned to the leasing company, the old records review may not tell the full airworthiness story for an aircraft under SMS regulation. The lessor’s technical staff may want to examine the SRA meeting notes and may need to follow the practices/policies/paperwork which flowed from that committee to the actual implementation of the MX regimen applied to the leased vehicle. After the fact “audits” may be very cumbersome. The leasing company might want to ask to listen to the aircraft portions of the lessee airline’s SMS meetings?

Equally relevantly, ASIAS and FOQA (among other regulatory data bases) will contain masses of information relevant to the leasing company’s global fleet of specific aircraft types. The ASIAS organization is a industry/government partnership and includes members beyond the carriers and the FAAThe leasing companies might consider joining it.

asias members

In fact, the lessors might provide unique insights to ASIAS in that their airplanes are on the certificates in many countries, reflecting different operational/weather/competence profiles.

The old technical records were the staple of the leasing companies’ review of their aircraft values. SMS and ASIAS should cause these sophisticated financial institutions to understand the META data, preventative approach; the definition of unique solutions to respond to the carrier’s unique problems; and to consider participating in these safety fora.


What does a lessor have to do with aircraft technical management? 
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1 Comment on "What does a lessor have to do with SMS, ASIAS, etc.?"

  1. Philip Daspit | March 16, 2017 at 4:27 pm | Reply

    This would be a great move. It would provide the airlines with another source of data and help to reinforce SMS systems in the airlines.

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