ARTICLE: The Four-Legged Stool
Wisdom is a rare commodity and when it is voiced, the words make immense sense. Ray Valeika has been a highly respected member of the Delta Maintenance team and now speaks from the unbiased perspective of an independent consultant.
His piece on The Four-Legged Stool carefully analyzes the state of the industry. It used to be that the maintenance world involved three key players, each with distinct and separate functions. That triangle worked well.
Today, as Valieka astutely observes, the emerging model is a four-legged stool. Now the airplane is an independent vehicle which moves freely among operators; carriers have limited internal engineering competence and tend to rely on 3rd party Maintenance and Repair Organizations (MROs) to maintain their aircraft; the OEMs hold a similar position as before; and the FAA’s role is the same. He recognizes that this new 4th player provides important services in beginning to absorb some of the regulatory functions (but maybe not all of the risks) of its P121 clients, but that this new reality may not be fully recognized by the parties or the regulatory structures.
The new reality relies on integration; the aircraft information needs to move easily between and among the parties. The regulatory requirements are being refined frequently over the life of the vehicle. While those are changes, the biggest Δ between then and now is the increasing reliance on the MRO. Valieka recognizes that the traditional MRO status was unclear and that today this 3rd party’s access to the records and the OEM data is not abundantly clear (see jdasolutions.aero/blog.)
The concluding paragraphs of Mr. Valieka’s wise column actually pose good questions—
- what is the future for MROs?
- will the maintenance records and OEM data become available to all four of the current players?
- (not explicitly asked, but a question inherent in this article), will the OEM become comfortable with MRO’s access to the manufacturer’s data and drawings?
- (equally implicit), when/how will the FAA recognize the new 4th stool leg?
- And with adequate integration and understanding, will this new regime add to safety OR will the adherence to the old relations and ignoring of the new MX structure result in suboptimal relations or even degradation?
Mr. Valieka’s wisdom is evident, but will all the players answer his questions with the same keen sense of judgment?