Aviation Maintenance Technicians (AMTs), or those who often serve a dual role as flight attendant and maintenance technician, bring significant benefits to international operations. Experts recently shared with Business Aviation Insider their organization’s strategies for best utilizing AMTs and the benefits they’ve experienced.
While some organizations send an AMT on all international flights, others consider qualities of the destination. How far will the aircraft be from a parts depot? Is there an OEM or other reputable repair station on-site or nearby? How long is the trip? Would a one- or two-day delay to wait for a technician to address a discrepancy derail the entire trip or will the aircraft be waiting for passengers for a week or two anyway?
With the advent of the pandemic, sending an AMT on every international trip became increasingly common. But even as COVID impacts lessen, persistent workforce issues continue to tighten maintenance availability worldwide.
“We have a unique position. Our role is to provide safety for passengers and crew so we’re trained in a dual rule as technician and as a crewmember. Essentially, we’re in charge of another level of care that other crewmembers don’t have to worry about.”
Creighton Anderson AMT, Midwest-based flight department
“There is simply no manpower to help on a drop-in basis,” said Ian Young, an AMT at Executive Jet Management. “The challenge compounds exponentially when you’re overseas and need FAA-approved service center or A&Ps.”
Young said an AMT is particularly helpful with minor departure delays. If a discrepancy can be deferred and an AMT is on board, the discrepancy might result in a 30-minute delay to process paperwork. If you have to find a maintenance technician from off-site, the flight could see a several-hour or even days-long delay.
Further, AMTs can spot problems before departure and save pilots crucial time when they’re looking at a long duty day. AMTs can tend to aircraft the day before departure, supervising fueling operations and conducting a pre-flight check, allowing for time to recover the flight on-time in the event of minor discrepancies. Then on departure day, the pilots have a shorter duty day by having a fueled and prepped aircraft, continuing with their own preflight inspection before departure and not focusing on aircraft servicing. This has become especially important as aircraft are capable of flying longer and longer legs.
Not only can an AMT recover an international flight following a discrepancy more efficiently than flying in a technician or waiting for a local repair shop, but AMTs can serve as a relatively inexpensive form of asset protection. An AMT conducts post-flight checks and can identify and correct minor issues – even cosmetic ones – before they become serious problems.
“We have a unique position. Our role is to provide safety for passengers and crew so we’re trained in a dual rule as technician and as a crewmember,” said Creighton Anderson, an AMT at a Midwest-based flight department with extensive international operations. “Essentially, we’re in charge of another level of care that other crewmembers don’t have to worry about.”
One AMT suggested considering the same scenario – an international trip to a destination with minimal service available – with two different crew strategies. In one case, the crew includes an AMT. In the other, there is no AMT. Compare the cost of the AMT versus the cost of flying a technician in from another location, utilizing unknown service providers, downtime on the aircraft, chartering a recovery aircraft or even jeopardizing the flight schedule. The difference, the AMT said, will result in a clearer overview of the two options and which path to choose.