Aircraft operators receive service bulletins when a product improvement becomes available. These SBs are often best handled with modification kits. But how does this work in practice and is there a better way to go about it? Two of our experts break it down.
When a modification or product improvement is available for an aircraft, manufacturers will inform operators of the change via a Service Bulletin (SB). These SBs are often necessary to maintain the aircraft’s safety or improve its operation and may even be the result of an updated Airworthiness Directive. In short, they’re not to be ignored.
But knowing how to best respond to the SB can be challenging. At Satair and Airbus, our teams work closely with our customers to help them comply with SBs in the most efficient way possible. This is often best accomplished through modification kits, predefined selections of two or more parts that are created to accomplish the modification that is outlined in the service bulletin.
Delivering mod kits on time
At the 20,000 m2 Airbus kit factory in Hamburg, Germany, more than 35,000 kit line items are produced every week. The head of modification and repair kits works closely with customers to deliver the needed mod kits and respond to the problems that can arise when new SBs are issued.
“Long lead time items and a very complex supply chain are the biggest challenges we all face,” Andreas Zeuner, the former head of modification and repair kits and current head of supply management, said. “These challenges require close follow-up with our suppliers, and of course we have to give qualified feedback to our customers. In addition, we have to make sure to have the right inventory available in order to fulfil our customers’ demand – especially for critical and urgently needed modifications.”
The main goal is to make sure that customers receive the modification kits on time, but beyond the ordering of individual maintenance kits, the Airbus team also helps customers improve the efficiency of their maintenance processes.
“We want to learn about [our customers’] concerns and find solutions together,” Zeuner said.
Using data to predict maintenance
Zeuner’s former colleague Paul Boisseau-Villafuerte said it can be challenging for airlines to analyse, prioritise and evaluate the SB recommendations.
“It’s not easy to understand and it can be difficult to decide on purchasing the right mod kits at the right time to avoid bottlenecks in the supply chain and to reduce overall operational costs,” Boisseau-Villafuerte, Airbus’s former product manager for proprietary parts and kits, said. “To predict and forecast maintenance services is a challenging task.”
Boisseau-Villafuerte, now the lead FAL customer manager for Latin America, said a big part of what the kits team does is help customers make sense of service bulletins and respond accordingly.
“We want to help them make quicker decisions, order on time and prepare the optimal SB solutions,” he said. “In the end, we all want the same: excellent aircraft operational reliability, eliminating maintenance cancellations and, above all, avoiding AOG situations.”
The key to achieving those shared goals, he said, is efficient forecasting built on the right data. That’s where Skywise comes in. The open data platform helps customers gather and analyse information that allows them to make better decisions.
“The Skywise aviation data platform integrates all relevant fleetwide data, such as part replacements, flight plans, delays, and historical maintenance actions,” Boisseau-Villafuerte said. “The bottom line is it enables us to track trends on individual aircraft and address them before they become distributions.”
This helps customers prevent cancellations and minimise disruptions by leveraging in-service aircraft data to identify the root causes of operational issues.
Hear more about Skywise, modification kits and responding to service bulletins in the video above and be sure to visit our digital training hub for other free training and information videos in our “Meet the Experts” and "Expertise to Go" series.