Finding the right MRO

Effective aircraft ownership and operation are critically dependent on the quality of chosen maintenance, repair and overhaul activities. Matching needs and capabilities, including developed alternatives, is key to successful outcomes.

Needs profile

The corporate needs profile describes the primary goals and requirements of the flight department. In short, these are to reliably provide safe, secure and efficient transportation by air. It is clear that these goals must be understood and shared by organizations providing inspection and MRO services.

Table 3 is an example of a basic needs profile for business aircraft inspection and maintenance with the engines enrolled in a power-by-the-hour program. The purpose of the profile is to identify and quantify—to the extent possible—high-level requirements as well as a checklist of matching tactical needs and enabling capabilities.

MRO selection

The effectiveness of a maintenance program may be measured using a combination of 3 core metrics: Turnaround time, quality and cost.

A maintenance event with a turnaround goal seeks to ensure that the timing agreed for the aircraft return to service is met by the MRO. However, maintenance which solely seeks to return the aircraft to service as quickly as possible should be rare and only used to meet a critical or unusual transportation need.

In this case, convenience should be an excluded justification. The more usual basis seeks to optimize quality and cost goals, the former to resolve reliability concerns and the latter to minimize expenditure.

Table 4 sets airworthiness as the primary goal of each metric path associated with the overall maintenance event. The table suggests evaluation factors to be considered in developing a preliminary list of suitable MRO providers.

Once several inspection and MRO providers are identified, the selection criteria may be useful in ranking the candidates for consideration. Table 4 provides a framework for dialogue between the flight department, candidate MROs and those responsible for finance and administration.

Topics for discussion should include both the evaluation criteria as well as a thorough examination of associated aspects of oversight, risk management, exclusions and administration. The selection process concludes with analysis and choice of MRO Provider.
The framework provided in the table may also be used later to quantify MRO performance evaluation both in real-time and after the maintenance is completed.


For most business aviation users, private jet travel is an essential tool designed to extend corporate reach, broaden commercial influence and enhance situational awareness over long distances. The business jet is recognized as an enabler, supporter and accelerator of commercial enterprise.

The prospect value of time is what permits early movers to dominate in business and to secure significant earnings. It is in making these opportunities available that the reliability of the business airplane may be most critically considered.

Remember that maintenance isn't an option so it shouldn't be an afterthought. The better you integrate maintenance needs into your operational practices, the more convenient, seamless and cost-effective those down cycles will be.

Don Van Dyke is professor of advanced aerospace topics at Chicoutimi College of Aviation – CQFA Montreal. He is an 18,000 hour TT pilot and instructor with extensive airline, business and charter experience on both airplanes and helicopters. A former IATA ops director, he has served on several ICAO panels. He is a Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and is a flight operations expert on technical projects under UN administration.


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