By Kristin Majcher

By Kristin Majcher
MROs Cite Concerns About Skills Shortages
Aviation maintenance service providers express concern about workforce challenges.
Distinguished Drill 

When Stephen Morse invented the twist drill bit in the 1860s, the aviation world was characterized at best by gliders, parachutes and birdlike machines that achieved flying for only a few minutes. Things have certainly changed immensely in the field of aeronautics since then, but the drill bit has more or less stayed the same. That is, until Perfect Point created a forceless drilling process that uses an electrode to remove a fastener in seconds.

Stimulating Seating 

1. Light As A Feather

Manufacturer: Timco Aerosystems

Applications: Timco's new 3200 FeatherWeight seat is designed for economy class with high density configurations.

Specifications: Special design features, such as a curved seat back shell and injected molded armrests, maximize comfort for high density configurations. Timco worked with its customers to build the seat based on features they preferred.

Automating Ablation
A new composite surface preparation can lessen the labor-intensive process.
Case Study: Faster Fastening 

Problem: MROs and airline technical departments can never plan for the exact number of fasteners needed until they inspect a part.

Solution: Interfast's customized inventory management services and just-in-time inventory delivery.

Trendy Tools 1. Intelligent Drill 

Manufacturer: Perfect Point EDM

Applications: The E-Drill de-flanges fasteners in sizes ranging from 5/32 to 5/16 in. within seconds through a forceless process.

Specifications: Utility cabinet is 19-by-38-by-16 in. and weighs 148 lbs. Hand tool is 7.5-by-5 in. and weighs 1.5 lbs. Removes aluminum flanges in three seconds, titanium flanges in six seconds and Iconel flanges in 12 seconds.

Smart Storage 

1. Keen Kitting

Manufacturer: CribMaster

Applications: The KitMaster tool storage container prevents foreign object debris with containers that includes custom foam shadowboxes with cutouts that fit each tool perfectly.

Specifications: Custom options include laser etching, multiple color combinations and varying depth of foam cuts.

2. More Mobility

Conserving Composites 

Suppliers that make aircraft composite components likely have a substantial amount of leftover composite fiber material, such as pre-impregnated scraps and laminates. Until recently, the only thing to do with this excess waste was to dispose it. Now, a handful of companies have developed highly specialized processes to transform this trash into recycled treasure, and aerospace companies are doing their part to give back to the environment by utilizing this capability.

Brightening Buildings 

For maintenance, repair and overhaul tasks, low lighting levels are more than just an annoyance—they could lead to a host of safety concerns. Workers straining to see intricate aircraft parts could hurt themselves if the lighting is inadequate, or a worker could mistakenly miss foreign object debris left in an engine. Despite this fact, industrial-grade lighting can be difficult to replace and some facilities may wait until bulbs are nearly dead or burned out to replace them, leading to long intervals of very low light.

Getting in Gear 

Landing gear overhaul opportunities in 2012 will again be led by short-haul narrowbody aircraft, especially the Airbus A320 family. Data from Aviation Week's MRO Prospector shows that 1,378 landing gear overhauls were scheduled for 2011. In 2012, that total number is expected to drop slightly to 1,224. That number could dip even lower depending on the retirements of MD-80s and other legacy aircraft models.

Lean Enhancements

Lean manufacturing is a concept that derived from Toyota's production system for cars, and it has since been adopted by maintenance facilities for their repair work. But using Lean for MRO can be difficult, as there are many things that can happen on the maintenance shop floor that manufacturing organizations would not have to worry about. While an introduction to Lean is still valuable to any an aftermarket organization, a few consultants have found ways to tailor efficiency initiatives for the maintenance industry to address some unique problems.

Winglet Wisdom 

The term “winglet” caused a stir in the aviation aftermarket industry a decade ago with promises of more efficient aircraft via wing attachments that could be retrofitted. Major airlines undergoing extensive retrofit projects include United, which ordered 14 767-300ER units from APB in June.

Operators are still buying these devices, but manufacturers such as Aviation Partners Boeing and Quiet Wing have realized that once most fleets are outfitted with winglets, they will need a strategy for capturing new market opportunities.

Maintaining Montréal 
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Swifter Services 

As airlines look to increase passenger comfort and connectivity on their aircraft, many are looking to retrofit the Inmarsat SwiftBroadband satellite communications system, or satcom system on older aircraft. A satcom system with SwiftBroadband allows the operator to offer e-mail, text and telephone services to passengers.

Inflight Ingenuity 

It is hard to imagine that airlines are still using bulky tape systems to show movies to passengers in an age where smartphones are the norm, but in many cases the old technology can be challenging to replace.

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