Aviation Today :: Commercial

Mar 12, 2016

"Trust", a Great Motivator - Airbus A300B2 Green Hydraulic System Contamination.

By: RD Thakur, Director (Senior Consultant), Anisoft Aviation

An Airbus A-300 was reported to have #2 engine  Green Hydraulic pump failure due to which the aircraft was grounded at Delhi for Pump replacement. I was called upon by our then Chief Engineer Mr.L.S. Mathur, CEM, Mumbai, to go and attend to this problem at Delhi and make the aircraft ready for next morning flight from Delhi.
It was about 15:00 hrs. While discussing this issue with him I mentioned that the pump mechanical if confirmed ,it may require complete flushing of the system for which Hydraulic Rig is a must as per the procedure given in the AMM. I was informed by him that it is confirmed internal mechanical failure and the system is also confirmed contaminated by pump metal debris requiring flushing of the Hydraulic Green System, and there is no Rig suitable for this at Delhi. What we have in Mumbai  was also under major repair and not available. Even it is available the shipment by road will take a few days which airline can not afford. It was then a peculiar challenge to be accepted for the reasons that we were not aware of any procedure to flush the system without the Rig. There was no time to take it up with Airbus Industrie for their advice or alternate means of compliance. The Airbus representative  had joined us in the discussion for a solution to be worked out. The procedure to get an alternate procedure from Toulouse was time taking. I was to organise my team and material etc, and take the flight at 17:00 hrs.so no enough time at hand.
I was finally told by my CEM that he chose me for the reason that I will do my best inspite of all the set-backs and deficiencies as discussed to ensure, the aircraft is back into service next morning. That was theTRUST by him which motivated me to accept the challenge. Quickly I selected a team of four Technicians and necessary spares and materials and AMM since I had approx. 02 hours of flight time during which I can work out my procedure before we land at Delhi.
We boarded the flight in which we all sat close-by so that we can discuss and  plan our  action and prepare a procedure without delay. Here I may emphasise that a simple and flawless action plan, good understanding within the team, clear individual action and responsibility for what each one has to do, an unmatched coordination with Delhi maintenance team and stores and above all dedicated team building and teamwork was the need of the hour.
During the flight I chose the trust factor as was chosen by Mr. Mathur to motivate my team by giving a short briefing about our mission and then concentrated to work out a procedure without the Rig which took us about an hour to prepare a hand written procedure. This was explained to my team members about who will do what on the aircraft. I took up the responsibility to coordinate with Delhi Team and stores. Each one confirmed clear understanding of the procedure and individual actions and action as a team by the time we landed at Delhi, where the Delhi Engineer and his team was waiting for us.
After we all gathered at the aircraft on the parking bay I explained our plan and action to return the aircraft into service and requested their cooperation. All clearly understood and ready to tackle the problem. We started work at about 20:30 hrs. and completed by 05:30 hrs. The aircraft was scheduled to operated a flight to Mumbai at 07:30 hrs approx.
I had requested for the Commander of the flight to Mumbai to come a little earlier for briefing about what we did and in case there is problem in flight what we expect him to do as per the Flight Manual to reach Mumbai where we have better facility to tackle the issue being Main Base. The Captain came as requested and he was explained about what has been done showing him our hand written procedure to flush the Green Hydraulic system. He was satisfied with the action and he assured us of his action as per AFM if we encounter any problem in flight. Mumbai was also briefed about follow-up action to take Hydraulic fluid sample for testing to confirm that the system is free of any contaminant which will cause any more Pump failure.
At about 06:30 hrs. The CEM Delhi also came who was briefed about the serviceability of the concerned aircraft and further follow-ups by main base Mumbai. 
Since we were smelling of Skydrol I decided to let the other team members take another flight after changing and freshening up and I chose to return by the same aircraft seating in the cockpit to avoid inconveniencing the passengers due to the Hydraulic fluid smell. The flight was completed without of any problem. The appreciation from the Captain was our greatest reward which was due to trust from Mr. L.S. Mathur, CEM, Western Region and the team of Mumbai and Delhi that made it happen without listed equipment, the Hydraulic Rig and procedure.

#anisoftaviation: Mr Thakur has been in aviation industry for past 50+ years, having Senior Management Expertise with almost every airline in India and has also been contributing his experience to the industry by article writing. Read more articles by RD Thakur...

Mar 11, 2016

A Discussion on Applicability of - 5/20 Rule in Indian Aviation.

By: RD Thakur, Director (Senior Consultant), Anisoft Aviation

What are the pros and cons of 5/20 rule? Why India needed a 5/20 rule at all – does not it limits the development of aviation in the country?

When this Rule was brought in, the airline industry was dominated by Indian Airlines and Air India. New entrants were East West, Damania, ModiLuft etc. Compared to the national carriers (IAL & AI), which were having unmatched infrastructure to maintain and operate their fleet the Private airlines had very little in-house support/infrastructure which was limited to minor Line Maintenance handling. IA & AI were not willing to support their competitors. These private airlines, most of the time, were operating their aircraft with scanty maintenance  due to lack of infrastructure /maintenance support. In AOG situations they were taking help from the national carriers by paying heavily or they used to get it from abroad by going through rigorous Regulatory approval process and heavy cost by paying through foreign exchange (because in those days Indian Regulator was not in conformity with FAA/EASA Regulations).Our rules were a little different from these. Hence there were risks. After following due procedure for Rule change in which all stake holders were involved this, 5/20 Rule was introduced. 

In my opinion, it was required at that point of time and scenario for developing maintenance facility and support system. Now  the Rules have changed since 2005 by recasting and enforcing Indian Regulations in par with the global ones which are FAA & EASA which allows flexibility and globalization without compromising safety and airworthiness and streamlining the practices and procedures. Now under the present situation it does restrict growth and development as I see in the country.

How was the criterion of the rule chosen? Why does it require to have 5 years (not 4 or 6 years) of regional experience and a fleet of 20 aircraft (not 35 or 19) - is it the optimal numbers to ensure the airline is ready to start international operations?

As I have stated above in short, those were the criterion at that time. 05 years were felt reasonable necessity by the Regulators,  to establish the maintenance facility with respect to proper equipments, qualified manpower, their appropriate training and experience, build up confidence and procedures meeting the regulations etc.

May be fleet size of 20 was based on reliability and operational flexibility to ensure passengers are not stranded and inconvenienced due to a small fleet / non-availability of equipment in case of AOG and unforeseen circumstances for a long period. May be fleet not >20  due to cost implications in Foreign exchange and stake holders pressure. Now I feel fleet size does not matter in the current aviation scenario (Pull agreement,code sharing etc.).

Should the 5/20 rule be abolished, changed or left as it is? 

Now in my opinion 5/20 rule should be abolished since we are in par with global standards and technological advancements. Our expertise is no way inferior to any country what so ever. 

Also, there is a proposition to replace 5/20 with a domestic flying credits formula (DFC - acquiring miles by flying domestic which can be redeemed for overseas flying rights). Why or why not this formula should be implemented and how will it impact aviation industry in India?

In my opinion this is to encourage better connectivity within the country which will boost trade, tourism and administration. This is good for the nation and should be implemented. However, there is possibility of loss making due to prohibitive cost of operation to certain destinations. If that is taken care of ,the operator will not be impacted. Any way it has to be win-win for both the operator and consumer then it will be good for the country.

If the 5/20 rule is abolished, what impact will it have on maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) sector in India? Will it expand, attracting new OEM’s or SME’s, or on the contrary, will the MRO market face a pitfall?

In fact, it will help the MROs progress within the country. As I understand no body would like to go to an MRO abroad which incurred various costs such as empty Ferry flights, Landing and navigational charges, flight handling, complicated contracts and agreements, monitoring of the tasks, controlling unscheduled tasks arising during the checks and related cost, approval process, formulating work-scopes with the agency etc. However MROs will also have to gear up and develop the facilities as such to match the facilities abroad and their surrounding outsourcing facilities which are normally done by local infrastructure approved by their Regulators.

Some of the major carriers (members of Federation of India Airlines) are afraid that changes of 5/20 might violate the principle of a level playing field. Members of the Federation say it would not be fair for new airlines with a smaller fleet to fly overseas, while the others had to pass 5/20 rule. Would you support or oppose this position?

This is a matter of limiting the competition and protecting their profit/loss margin driven by Commercial considerationsTechnically speaking I will not support it personally.

What impact will the 5/20 change or abolishment have on aviation industry outside the country? Might the rule abolishment stimulate competition on a regional level as well?

It will certainly impact the industry abroad as the industry abroad will also face greater number of competitors who will operate to Indian destinations to the metros and remote airports and provide better connectivities. It will also impact the route allocations, Bi-lateral agreements and related issues. Hence there may be opposition from these sectors as well. Quite possible they may bring political influences and pressures against it as it may affect their business (profit & loss).

What are the monetary implications and future perspectives of the 5/20 rule changes? Should the infrastructure be adjusted to the rule changes? What will be the long-term effect?

Being a technical person I suppose monetarily it will be better for the operators and the country as a whole because reduced maintenance cost, greater and cheaper manpower available within the country and job opportunity for our younger generation, better expertise developed in the industry, enhancement of turnover by MRO's by attracting Major Checks from abroad due to globalisation on our rules and enhancement of our skilled manpower etc. 

Ofcourse, Our infrastructure will need adjustment to the changed rules. It must address flexibility, our Customs clearing rules and handling procedures need to be adjusted to make it faster and more customer friendly, our in land roads/highways need to really improved for better transportation and  logistic supports. Change is always welcome leading to betterment provided it is efficiently and honestly managed and motivated.

In the long run I am sure you must have realised it will have better effects and efficiency compared to any country and it will improve attitude and services of our man power to be more professional and better human beings.

Note: With my limited experience ,knowledge and understanding of the Aviation Industry an an Aircraft Maintenance Engineer and a learner these are my views on the subject, if it improves the Industry and country as a whole. I would appreciate the efforts in this direction. 

#anisoftaviation: Mr Thakur has been in aviation industry for past 50+ years, having Senior Management Expertise with almost every airline in India and has also been contributing his experience to the industry by article writing. Read more articles by RD Thakur...

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