Aircraft IT MRO – February/March 2013

Aircraft IT MRO – February/March 2013 Cover


Name Author
Technical Records – Making them Work Julien Albrecht, General Manager, Aircraft Data Systems View article
What should a CIO think about? Ravinder Pal Singh, Global Chief Information and Technology Officer, Air Works View article
Column How I See IT – ASG v Olympic Airlines Michael Wm. Denis View article
RFID: Leading the way with Inventory Management Rick Lewis, Business Analyst, Delta Air Lines, Atlanta TechOps View article
Case Study: Organising data for more useful outcomes Amol Salaskar, Manager Engineering IT, Jet Airways View article

Column How I See IT – ASG v Olympic Airlines

Author: Michael Wm. Denis


What is the definition of airworthy? It seems like a silly question to be discussing in an aviation trade magazine since it should be universal and fundamental, but it’s amazing the number of answers you get depending upon who you ask. My favorite is, ‘Airworthiness is like what the Supreme Court once said about pornography – we can’t define it but we know it when we see it.’

The recent ACG v Olympic Airlines civil lawsuit in the UK reviewed the definition which was in debate and established some important precedence.
“Whether a particular defect renders an aircraft unfit or unsafe for flight will depend upon the function of the part in question and the severity of the defect. It will not depend upon whether the operator of the aircraft knows of the defect or not. An aircraft with a defective part which renders the aircraft unfit or unsafe for flight is not rendered fit or safe for flight on account of the operator of the aircraft being unaware of the defect. Airworthiness depends upon the condition of the aircraft at the material time. It does not depend upon whether or not a defect is known to the operator. I do not consider that any prudent lessor or lessee of commercial aircraft intended for the carriage of passengers would regard an aircraft as airworthy if the aircraft carried a hidden defect which, if the lessor and lessee had known about it, would have to be corrected before the next flight.”

I conducted a survey on several industry blog sites and the common definition given was, ‘airworthy meant an aircraft was compliant to its type certificate, supplemental type certificates and airworthiness directives AND [was] safe to operate.’

While the first is easily proved or disproved by accurate and precise documentation and physical inspections, the second requirement, ‘safe to operate’, is a bit more difficult. The ‘safe to operate’ element of the determination of airworthy is enabled via a Continuous Airworthiness Maintenance Program (CAMP) and pre-flight inspection by a pilot. The judge found “a poor standard of inspection by AirAsia…”

The civil lawsuit also found deficient maintenance governance practices by Air Asia and on their behalf by ST Aerospace. Air Asia was in the process of redelivering a large number of aircraft and “ST Aerospace were under pressure to complete the 1C check with as little delay as possible”. “Reference was made, i) to the practice of ‘pencil-whipping’, that is, signing off on a job even though it was not carried out…”

In the end, ACG prevailed on the technicality of estoppels – that regardless of the airworthiness of the aircraft, when Olympic signed the certificate of acceptance; it gave up its rights to sue.

So what does this have to do with an eJournal on MRO technology?

Standardized electronic records and the paperless aviation ecosystem is here and is going to accelerate, not because it makes labor more productive, not because it decreases excess inventory,  and not because it improves regulatory compliance – we are going to change because lawyers, insurers and CFOs are seeing the cost of paper and non-standardization.

At least that’s how I see IT.

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