Before discussing what considerations should factor into choosing an MRO provider
, it is critical to review its definition. An MRO provider is any licensed facility whose purpose is to perform preventative maintenance and repairs on aircraft. MRO facilities may be owned and operated by an airline, an independent company, general aviation facility, or military unit, each of which is equipped with differing capabilities.
Independent repair stations are one of the most common types of MRO facilities, with service centers at airports of various sizes throughout the world. They are typically capable of performing maintenance operations on a diverse range of aircraft, from regional jets to helicopters and others. Fixed base operators (FBOs) are generally larger facilities stationed in busy hubs to provide maintenance, aircraft rental, fuel, and short-term storage.
Airline-owned MRO facilities
represent a large portion of the maintenance and repair options across the globe since it is generally cheaper to perform such operations in-house instead of contracting through various entities. Military bases, particularly those belonging to the various air forces and navies across the globe, also make up a substantial amount of the MRO facilities worldwide. While not generally accessible to civil aviation providers, these facilities are often robust and equipped to support the needs of a diverse range of aircraft, including cargo planes, helicopters, and fighter jets.
Regardless of the facility type a customer is considering, it is imperative that they ensure the MRO provider is a good fit for their application. The first factor to take into consideration is the MRO provider's qualifications. Although many share similar components and configurations, planes still differ significantly, and these differences usually bring with them much nuance. At the very least, the customer should ensure the facility has worked on their model of aircraft before. An even better scenario will be if the facility regularly maintains several of the same models, although this may be unlikely with smaller facilities or rare aircraft types.
Another strategy to assess the quality of an MRO facility while also potentially saving money is to ask them to provide an upfront quotation for all maintenance and inspection services over the preceding two years. The facility's reaction to this request is incredibly telling. It helps the customer quickly determine if the MRO provider is upfront about all potential costs or if they are purposefully offering a low price that is not inclusive of likely inspections or maintenance. If time permits, it may be wise to shop around to look for an MRO facility that will provide a thorough service without charging an excessive amount.
Like anything in aviation, short turnaround times are always important, particularly if the customer faces an aircraft on ground (AOG) situation. Each aircraft model has a different reasonable time frame for a given inspection. Usually, this will be listed in the aircraft's manual
, although other owners may also be a sufficient reference. Typically, if the MRO facility provides an estimate that is above and beyond the reasonable time frame, it means they lack the training or equipment to perform the needed operation. However, quotes for turnaround times that are too quick for the particular inspection are also concerning, as they may indicate that the facility cuts corners or does not work within regulatory bounds.
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