osteogenesis
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Airbuses Are Much Easier To Maintain?

Fri Jun 27, 2003 4:22 am

I once saw an interview on TV with a mechanic. He said the 747 was a nightmare to maintain. He also said the Airbus planes where clearly designed taking maintenance into consideration.

Is there somebody that has experience in this field that could answer this?
 
cedarjet
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RE: Airbuses Are Much Easier To Maintain?

Fri Jun 27, 2003 4:29 am

I'm a big fan of Airbus but to be honest I've heard the opposite. At least in the early days, the A300 wasn't popular with mx. Interesting to hear from anyone who has worked on A320s? Have Airbus got it right?
fly Saha Air 707s daily from Tehran's downtown Mehrabad to Mashhad, Kish Island and Ahwaz
 
caetravlr
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RE: Airbuses Are Much Easier To Maintain?

Fri Jun 27, 2003 4:39 am

I believe I have heard some things second hand that UA mechanics as well as ramp guys don't like the Airbus aircraft as much. I am sure someone could tell me if I am wrong, or if that was just one persons opinion, but I believe it is true. I am sure that the newer ones would be somewhat better than the A300s though.
A woman drove me to drink and I didn't have the decency to thank her. - W.C. Fields
 
osteogenesis
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RE: Airbuses Are Much Easier To Maintain?

Fri Jun 27, 2003 4:42 am

The mechanic was comparing the A340 with the 747. I should have mentioned that. Big grin
 
eg777er
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RE: Airbuses Are Much Easier To Maintain?

Fri Jun 27, 2003 4:51 am

The main advantages modern aircraft have over older aircraft (and I'm talking modern Boeing's equally as modern Airbii) is in fault reporting.

I.e. on a modern aircraft, it will tell you itself what is wrong with itself. Some, such as the 777, can even radio ahead automatically with details for ground engineers.

With an older aircraft (such as Concorde) you have to manually 'fail' systems to check whether components are working. This is much more laborious; akin to a complicated game of hide and seek around the aircraft.

Maybe the 'mechanic' (aren't they engineers?) was comparing a classic 747 to an A340. I would imagine a 744 would have much better automatic fault reporting.
 
osteogenesis
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RE: Airbuses Are Much Easier To Maintain?

Fri Jun 27, 2003 4:55 am

You made a good point.

The mechanic was doing a D Check on a 747. I don’t remember the type. But probably 744 because of the A340 comparison. I also remember he had some difficulty reaching important parts. He said some important components where better placed on the Bus.

Bur this is probably the same on newer Boeings.
 
Continental
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RE: Airbuses Are Much Easier To Maintain?

Fri Jun 27, 2003 5:52 am

At MSP I rarely see Northwest's A320s in the hangar, it usually has the DC-10s, DC-9s, or the 757s. I guess they are much easier to maintain, unless all the work is completed during the night, then I don't see them.

co
 
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STT757
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RE: Airbuses Are Much Easier To Maintain?

Fri Jun 27, 2003 6:13 am

From all the articles I've read the Airbus aircraft are more labor intensive.

Here's a article about Jetblues "reluctant" decision to go with the A-320s, they originally wanted 737NGs but Airbus gave them (away) better deal.

http://www.aviationnow.com/avnow/news/channel_om_story.jsp?id=news/om1202JBlu.xml

"When originally conceived, JetBlue was going to operate all 737 Next Generation aircraft, but eventually decided to go with the A320 because of "better pricing and warranty," according to Hitesh Patel, JetBlue director of line and base maintenance.

JetBlue maintenance managers admit, however, that the fly-by-wire A320 has given them more maintenance challenges than they would have had with a mechanically driven 737.

"The burden of an A320 maintenance program is a little higher than with a Boeing product," said Patel"


"It's an airplane that has a lot of spurious faults, and you have to reset a lot of the avionics systems," said Lopez. "If you get the training on the airplane it works out well, but you need the maximum amount of training on this airplane."

Airbus responded to comments regarding spurious faults: "The degree of scrutiny (with digital aircraft such as the A320) may be higher than with purely mechanical systems, but it is not higher than the 777," said Clyde Kizer, president and COO, Airbus North America Customer Services, who added that such faults are common with digital airplanes regardless of manufacturer, and they can be triggered by something as simple as shifting from APU power to engine power. "

"We were all Boeing guys; we didn't want Airbus," said Lopez. "Mechanics were afraid of Airbus (and all its) new-generation stuff. But once you learn it, it is a maintenance-friendly plane."


Eastern Air lines flt # 701, EWR-MCO Boeing 757
 
Greg
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RE: Airbuses Are Much Easier To Maintain?

Fri Jun 27, 2003 6:16 am

My buddy at UAL said that the A320's as generally known as 'hanger queens.'
 
PSU.DTW.SCE
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RE: Airbuses Are Much Easier To Maintain?

Fri Jun 27, 2003 6:23 am

Continental,

All NW A319/A320 heavy maintainance is performed in Duluth, MN....not at MSP

Judging by what you see in the hanger does not imply whether is it realiable or easier to work on. All aircraft have a scheduled maintainance program, and most of those aircraft are in there for such checks.
 
airworthy
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RE: Airbuses Are Much Easier To Maintain?

Fri Jun 27, 2003 8:30 am

To be fair you have to take into account when the planes were made, and what technology was available at the time.
 
osteogenesis
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RE: Airbuses Are Much Easier To Maintain?

Fri Jun 27, 2003 8:34 am

You are completely wright Airworthy. A detailed comparison of 737NG vs. A320 and A330 vs. 777 would be very interesting.

The tendency of new orders from airlines operating mixed manufacturers may give a slide indication.

But I know there are many other variables involved in choosing an aircraft.
 
Flaps
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RE: Airbuses Are Much Easier To Maintain?

Fri Jun 27, 2003 9:56 am

STT757 hit the nail on the head.

The Airbus's in our fleet all seem to suffer from chronic nuisance faults, at least in comparison to our Boeing and MDD fleets. It isnt that they necessarily have more actual problems but they do seem to generate a large number of spurious or false alerts. They do not appear from a systems standpoint to be very rugged, particularly with the electronics. Structurally I dont have much info.

Even though we have a large fleet of used A310's it generally seems that plane for plane the A300-600's we purchased new have more of the nuisance type problems than the older and more heavily used 310's. My friends across the field at US report the same problems/issues with their 320 series aircraft. I dont know anyone working on the 330's so I cant contribute anything there.
 
palebird
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RE: Airbuses Are Much Easier To Maintain?

Fri Jun 27, 2003 11:03 am

I can tell you firsthand that Airbus does things different than Boeing and, if you have spent any amount of time on an Airbus, you will be converted. Boeing still insists on its old ways for better or worse. From the 707 to the 767-300.Airbus has actually looked at things with an open mind and the result is a much more maintenance friendly aircraft. Old Boeing diehards(there are lots of them) will tell you about the nuisance faults but that is just part of electronics and new Boeings(777,737NG) have them also. If I never had to work on another Boeing that would be fine with me. But that won't happen.
 
Qb001
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RE: Airbuses Are Much Easier To Maintain?

Fri Jun 27, 2003 11:31 am

Even Airbus admits that the 320 and early 340 had maintenance problems. I know also that mechanics at Fedex and UPS are not thrilled by the 300/310. But I know sometimes that this is just a matter of properly training the mechanics.

I recently met an AC 320 pilot. He told me that Airbus got it right with the 321, that all the 319/320 glitches were corrected.
Never let the facts get in the way of a good theory.
 
Guest

RE: Airbuses Are Much Easier To Maintain?

Fri Jun 27, 2003 11:48 am

PA loved its A300/A310, but DL hated the A310 it inherited. EA loved its A300, but CO (which acquired them) hated them.

One of the major reasons (besides financial difficulties) NW cancelled its original A320 order after only 50 (of 100) planes were delivered was because they felt the aircraft weren’t maintenance-friendly. NW seriously considered purchasing the B737, but reconfirmed its commitment to the A320-family with additional orders beginning in 1997... today, they’re happy with the performance of the A319/A320. US felt the same way about their A320-family aircraft initially (and some will say they still do feel that way). UA has loved its A319/A320 from delivery.

YMMV.
 
Flaps
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RE: Airbuses Are Much Easier To Maintain?

Fri Jun 27, 2003 12:45 pm

IndustrialPate,

We currently fly some of the former PA/DL 310's and they are the dogs of the 310 fleet. PA did no maintenance that wasnt absolutely necessary and DL apparently didnt do much either. The GE powered 310's from other sources seem to be much more reliable than the P&W versions from PA/DL. The powerplant difference isnt really the issue though other than problems with the thrust reversers. The former PA/DL birds were ridden hard and put away wet (so to speak) so I suppose its only natural that they would tend to be hanger queens.

The A300-600's though seem to be the biggest maintenance headache and they were all purchased new. We have second and third hand MD11's and fourth and fifth hand 727's with better dispatch reliability than the factory new A300-600's.
 
tu154m
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RE: Airbuses Are Much Easier To Maintain?

Fri Jun 27, 2003 12:54 pm

I've only got my hands on the A310s(Air Jamaica) and have worked on B727, B737, B757, B767, B777, MD-88, MD-11 and L1011s. From what little Airbus experience I do have I will have to say that they are a pain. BUT.......I think I would take them over McDD!!!!!!! Seriously, it's probably what you are more familiar with. Nowdays, most of the European engineers really like and know Airbus. Most US mechs like and know Boeing. Both are probably at the point of being so advanced that they are much smarter than tose of us who maintain them!!!!!! The 727 is still my fav!!!!
S
CEOs should swim with cement flippers!
 
MxCtrlr
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RE: Airbuses Are Much Easier To Maintain?

Fri Jun 27, 2003 1:54 pm

Having worked extensively on the A300-B4, A310-200 & -300 and almost every Boeing type (and the DC-8, -9 & -10 and even an odd-ball IL62 and some design work on the IL96-300), I can say with some authority that the Airbus product is a far more labor intensive beast than the Boeing products. The problem with the 747 is that there is NOTHING you can work on that doesn't require a ladder to get to. Outside of that (and the body gear steering and rudder ratio problems with the 747) I would take a Boeing aircraft any day over any Airbus aircraft for ease of maintenance.

The other problem with Airbii (for those of you who don't know, one = Airbus, two or more = Airbii) is their maintenance manual is written in standardized English (or what I like to call "Airbusese"). Since the different parts of the Airbii are built in different countries, the manual sections are originally written in whatever that country's native language is (German, Italian, Spanish, British English, etc), then translated into French and then translated into Airbusese. For example, Airbus determined that there were approximately 27 ways to say that fuel was moved through the aircraft so, in an attempt to standardize things, they settled on the word "delivered", as in, the fuel pump delivers fuel to the engines or the fuel truck delivers fuel to the fueling manifold and, in turn, the fueling manifold delivers that fuel to the fuel tank, etc. It can make for some confusion on the part of maintenance.

Anyway, that's just my two cents worth and what I heard almost every other mechanic who worked on both aircraft manufacturer's types say - Airbii are harder to work on than Boeings.

MxCtrlr  Smile/happy/getting dizzy
Freight Dogs Anonymous - O.O.T.S.K.  Smokin cool
DAMN! This SUCKS! I just had to go to the next higher age bracket in my profile! :-(
 
justplanesmart
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RE: Airbuses Are Much Easier To Maintain?

Fri Jun 27, 2003 5:37 pm

MxCtrlr:

Shouldn't the plural for Airbus be Airbi (only one i)?

[Edited 2003-06-27 10:38:23]
"So many planes; so little time..."
 
MxCtrlr
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RE: Airbuses Are Much Easier To Maintain?

Fri Jun 27, 2003 6:28 pm

Shouldn't the plural for Airbus be Airbi (only one i)?

After looking it up, I stand (or, actually, "sit") corrected! Thank you for pointing that error out.  Big thumbs up

MxCtrlr  Smile/happy/getting dizzy
Freight Dogs Anonymous - O.O.T.S.K.  Smokin cool
DAMN! This SUCKS! I just had to go to the next higher age bracket in my profile! :-(
 
Mr.BA
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RE: Airbuses Are Much Easier To Maintain?

Fri Jun 27, 2003 9:28 pm

Well just some side information here, I heard Cargo handlers complain about loading Airbus planes. One handler told me cargo rollers on pallets on Airbus planes are very small, making it very hard to shift the cargo around in the plane while Boeing are much generous with the size of the rollers.

SQ feedbacked to Airbus and I think the A345/6 and the coming A380 will have better rollers. And he said too, engineers told him: " I don't really look forward to meet Airbuses." I'm never sure why but I'm not trying to aim at Airbus before anyone thinks I am  Smile
Boeing747 万岁!
 
Buzz
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The "Blunderbus" Isn't So Bad An Aircraft

Fri Jun 27, 2003 10:15 pm

Hi Osteogenesis, Buzz here. Well, i'll put in a contrary opinion, the A319's and A320's ("Fi-Fi the wonder-jet") isn't so bad to work on. But it does speak a different language and parts are in a different place, and the systems are different. So it takes 4 or 5 years for a Boeing educated mechanic to feel comfortable with the airplane. Meanwhile, we make jokes about "Tolouse Trash Haulers" and "Renton Rejects" - the places where A320's and 727's are assembled.
I'd compare it to working on L-1011's when you're used to a DC-10: it's frustrating for a while trying to figure out what the airplane is telling you went wrong. So for the first few years people were treating it like a 737, throwing a lot of parts at a problem to correct faults that are caused by bad data bus / logic faults. It was perhaps 3 times more expensive than planned to educate mechanics-Nobody figured that into the budget (only a couple weeks of training) so we had to flail around a while. And we had a few years of bleed air faults (cured by doing regular pneumatic system health checks, as on the 737 and 757) and A/C pack problems that cost Liebherr a lot to re-design.
And the manuals are written in the kind of english that doesn't translate well "do not let engine oil get on your skin for a long time" - ok, so i should wait another 10 years to change the oil screen? (grin). But at least the Maint. manual, IPC (illustrated parts catlog) and WDM (wire diagram manual) all use the same number for the same systems. It's not a bad airplane of the '90's. Compared to a 1970's 727-200 the changes are vast, it's still a step above a 1980's airplane like the 757 and 737-300.
One guy commented that he saw a lot of NWA's fleet sitting at the hanger. It could have been waiting for parts, we do most of our airplane fixing at night at UAL when nobody's in a hurry to take the airpalne away from us. Daytime and afternoon is a different story.
So, i've worked DC-8's, DC-10's, 727, 737 (3 types) , 747 (3 types), 757+767, L-1011, Airbus, and the occasional MD-80. The Airbus isn't a bad airplane from the mechanic point of view. But it DOES take 4 or 5 years to make a good A320 mechanic, something that is often ignored (after all it only takes 6 weeks for a pilot to transition to the 'Bus) I often get asked to solve last minute problems, or tackle the difficult +weird sounding gripes that come in. Oh yes, you should learn to be a good R+E (spark chaser) when working the Airbus, many mechanical faults are caused by intermittant loss of data, so you need to do some wire work / cannon plugs / terminal blocks.
And maybe it's an attitude thing: since we have 150 of "Fi-Fi the Wonder Jet" i figured i'd better learn the airplane. I'd even typed up a couple dozen pages of Differences between the A320 and 737, since people see them both as a smaller , twin engine airliner. Underneath they are quite different animals.
g'day from the sunny Pacific Northwest
Buzz Fuselsausage: Line Mechanic by night, DC-3 Crew Chief by choice, taildragger pilot for fun.
 
zionstrat
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RE: Airbuses Are Much Easier To Maintain?

Sat Jun 28, 2003 12:40 am

Buzz-
Can you share your report on 737 and 320 differences or is the company confidential?
 
Buzz
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A320 Vs 737 Differences

Sun Jun 29, 2003 7:51 am

Hi Zionstrat, Buzz here. No problem. But... you'll have to send me an e-mail address. Ping me at meyer5pdx@juno.com It might be a day or two, i'm working on oldest daughter's car and working this weekend.
I walk a lot of mechanics at work through the differences between Fi-Fi the wonder jet and the Boeings they are familiar with.
g'day
Buzz Fuselsausage: Line Mechanic by night, DC-3 Crew Chief by choice, taildragger pilot for fun.
 
osteogenesis
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RE: Airbuses Are Much Easier To Maintain?

Sun Jun 29, 2003 3:10 pm

Thank you Buzz. Very interesting.
 
Sinlock
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RE: Airbuses Are Much Easier To Maintain?

Mon Jun 30, 2003 1:22 am

This is for all the REAL MX guys here.

Don't you hate it when someone makes a post in the Tech Ops forum that starts with.

1. I heard.......

2a. A Guy once told me.......

2b. A Buddy/Friend once told me.......

2c. A Pilot once told me.......

3. From all the articles I'v read......


........................................................................................................
Then there are the people who post something that is FACT (or sounds like it), but when your read Occupation part of their Profile the ever so omininous "No Info/Withheld" is there, or it says something like Printing Press Operator or Snowmobile Racer.
 
avioniker
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RE: Airbuses Are Much Easier To Maintain?

Tue Jul 01, 2003 1:58 am

I once was a confirmed Douglas guy. Loved the 8's, liked the 9's, really liked the 10's (found the 11's tolerable). Went to the 747 and 727 and grew to like them but missed the DAC's. Spent a lifetime in five years on A320/319's and came to really dislike them. I've been on the 737 NG's for the last couple of years and have come to love them. Seems the Boeing engineers finally listened to us on a few of the bigger issues.

The problem as I see it (remember the saying about opinions...)? 1. Airbus likes composites in vulnerable places; 2. Airbus believes everything Honeywell and Smiths tells them about flight controls and FMC's; and 3. What a few of you have mentioned as the language problem. (In all fairness I have to admit that the TAT probe on the NG makes a great Jetway target and the Static Port on the right side just forward of the cargo door does the same for the belt loader operator.)

I'm afraid we did it to ourselves. It's called "Simplified English" and is specified in ATA 104. I've been known to rant and even rave about it but never been caught or accused of saying anything positive about "simplified english".

How can you expect a technically minded individual (that would be a mechanic) to be able to glean any useful information out of a language limited to a 1000 word vocabulary, seven word sentences, and three sentence paragraphs?

Thirty years ago I took a course called "Technical Writing" where I was taught to write to the level of a technician qualified to disassemble, repair, and reassemble highly complicated devices (those would be airplanes). The purpose of the course was to ensure that the writer wouldn't be misunderstood while passing on the needed data to the technician expected to do the work. (The writer was also taught not to insult the intellegence of the reader.)

Now we have "Human Factors" training which is supposed to compensate for the lack of training of those same technically minded individuals.

(Okay enough ranting about language...)

Boeing aircraft are easier to maintain because they leave out the unneeded "bells and whistles" and have enough of the older design engineers around to remember what it's like to have a mechanic beating on their desks because they designed something to be thrown up in the air while the plane is assembled around it.

Airbus doesn't have too many of those engineers around. Have any of you tried to work on the terminal block installations on the end of the forward avionics racks? You need to be skinny, long, ambidexterous, and double-jointed.

The avionics component suites in the MD-11, B-717, B-737NG, B-777, and the Airbusiiii (subtract i's until you're happy) are essentially the same. It's the software that makes the differences. If an avionics tech can troubleshoot one the others are no great challenge. Until he has to replace components. Airbus threw quite a few up in the air and built their planes around them.

I'm on the NG's now and loving it. They remind me of the promises my recruiter made to me in the 60's with one big difference; They're coming true...
One may educate the ignorance from the unknowing but stupid is forever. Boswell; ca: 1533
 
MD-90
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RE: Airbuses Are Much Easier To Maintain?

Tue Jul 01, 2003 6:34 am

Ignoring the 737 for a moment, I wonder which aircraft is better thought of among mechanics, the MD-90 or A320?
 
AussiePete
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RE: Airbuses Are Much Easier To Maintain?

Tue Jul 01, 2003 9:40 am

Why don't we just use facts. I mean, surely thye airlines that fly BOTH brands should know from their own experience which is easier to maintain? Having said that, airlines relate ease of maintenance to a few key issues: dispatch technical delays, and of course cost.

Looking at costs for airlines operating both the B737 and A320:

Airframe Costs
A320 costs; low=-8% high=+105% average=+55%

Airframe and Engine costs
A320 costs; low=+40% high=+335% average=+190%

(Source of data is PPM, Product Performance Measurement, IATA)

That's for the B737 Classic. Do the Airbus guys want to go and do the same comparison for the B737NG? If you do you'll find improvements for the B737NG of around 15% over the Classic.

Now as for 'ease' of maintenance, I like to think that the guys who step up to a plane at the gate, walk up to a plane in the hangar, and live with the pressures of maintaining these planes day by day have the best idea on this. And in my experience it comes down to the individual's training, experience, and personal comfort level. I see dumb stuff on Airbus, and dumb stuff on Boeing, but if it was a vote system I reckon you'd get a landslide for the Boeing product.

Anyone got the MEL book handy???  Smile/happy/getting dizzy
 
VC-10
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RE: Airbuses Are Much Easier To Maintain?

Wed Jul 02, 2003 6:34 am

Having personally worked on the B707, 742, 744, 757, A310, 320/1 and the A340 I can say that in my opinion there is no difference in the two manufacturers.

Having recently worked with a US operator I would put down any dislike of the Airbus to prejudice and the level of training. I found that the depth of training that this particular operator of Airbus a/c gave to their mech's before they were let loose, was pretty shallow.

Yes, due to the level of computerisation on Airbus's there have been glitches, particularly at power transfer, but these have been resolved or are in the process of resolution and are getting less as each new type comes along. The A340-600 has had nowhere the number of problems the A340-300 had at this stage in its life.

Airbus are very good at informing operators of any problems by means of a Technical Follow-up report which gives you the symptoms, reasons for the problem, what they are doing about it, when the fix will be ready and what to do about the problem in the meantime, be it carry out a BITE chk or to say no maintenance action is necessary. These TFU's are updated every 6 months with the latest info.

As for the English used in the manuals, as another member has said the manuals are written to an ATA spec and Boeing use the same spec.

To improve maintainability when RR was desiging the Trent for the 346 they had workshops with line engineers to hear what they had to say about the design. About two years ago we had some Airbus people visit us to find out about the maintainability problems we have experienced with our Airbus's in order to eliminate them from the A380.

So all in all I have no preference about working on Boeings or Airbus's
 
FDXmech
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RE: Airbuses Are Much Easier To Maintain?

Mon Jul 07, 2003 10:39 am

>>>I know also that mechanics at Fedex and UPS are not thrilled by the 300/310. But I know sometimes that this is just a matter of properly training the mechanics.<<<

I'm a mechanic at Fedex and love the A300-600 and to a lesser extent the A310-200. I'd go as far as to call the A300-600 my favorite at FDX. The system architecture is different than Boeing or MDD and many systems have little in common except the final desired outcome.

How mechanics feel about different types is a very complex, fickle and subjective case study. Determining the reliability and maintainability of a certain manufacturer or type aircraft would in my opinion be nearly meaningless by simply asking random mechanics their opinion.
Many mechs are prejudiced for against an airplane because of unfamiliararity, lack of confidence or even having a problematic plane on a rainy day.

Proper training is important no doubt. But being a successful aircraft mechanic with the answers in the clutch goes far beyond formal training and into the realm of constant self improvement by studying the systems coupled with years of actually working an airplane. In my early mechanic days about 20yrs ago mech, my new wife would always ask why I study the books and fill the cramped apartment with schematic diagrams much to her wits end. I'd always respond by saying when the crew calls you to the cockpit, as a line mechanic, it's very uncomfortable to not technically understand what he talking about. There is a lot of pressure on the line mech to perform when called upon during a departure to avoid an unnecessary maint. delay. The more you know, which often goes beyond formal training, the better your comfort level and confidence and your ability to perform.

I heard UPS was having teething problems with their MD11's. I would suspect a tougher learning curve was in store because UPS never operated the DC10. Though very different in many ways it allowed FDX to have a more seemless transition to the MD11. Actually I'm being quite generous, we had many teething problems ourselves with the MD also, including numerous delaying glitches occuring because of improper power transfer practices (going from external power to APU power) which while OK on the DC10 or A300 was a no-no on the mud duck. Ironically, an improper power transfer (momentary power interruption) would sometimes manifest itself a couple legs later.

As much as I like the Airbus now, I disliked the very same model at American Airlines. I couldn't stand the the A300-B4 (Continental) yet talking with ex-Eastern Airlines mechs at FDX they had nothing but praise for the bird. Looking at some of their training manuals (rewritten by veteren EAL instructors for EAL mechs) I could see why. Many obscure systems made more incomprehensable by French technical writers were demystified and easily digested. I feel Airbus made a very bad error in their earlier years and to a much less extent today by not employing American technical writer to completely rewrite the maintenance manuals (for the U.S. anyway) and reformat the wiring diagrams (though the system schematic drawing are very good though not quite up to MDD Lamm schematic standards. Much is gained or lost on first impressions, the old maint. manuals lost many prospective converts.

The airplane, especially a new type is a continual work in progress between the airline and manufacturer for the rest of its life. If the airline decides to stake its business on a particular airplane (for FDX the A300-600 and MD11) continual improvements are made and the learning curve always trends upward. FDX's A300-600 are basically the most reliable plane in our fleet because of the continual determination to improve it. This is the same for many carriers. The A300-6600 is a great turnbird, it comes in and leaves without fuss, normally.
You're only as good as your last departure.
 
FDXmech
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RE: Airbuses Are Much Easier To Maintain?

Mon Jul 07, 2003 11:03 am

>>>I know also that mechanics at Fedex and UPS are not thrilled by the 300/310. But I know sometimes that this is just a matter of properly training the mechanics.<<<

I'm a mechanic at Fedex and love the A300-600 and to a lesser extent the A310-200. I'd go as far as to call the A300-600 my favorite at FDX. The system architecture is different than Boeing or MDD and many systems have little in common except the final desired outcome.

How mechanics feel about different types is a very complex, fickle and subjective case study. Determining the reliability and maintainability of a certain manufacturer or type aircraft would in my opinion be nearly meaningless by simply asking random mechanics their opinion.
Many mechs are prejudiced for against an airplane because of unfamiliararity, lack of confidence or even having a problematic plane on a rainy day.

Proper training is important no doubt. But being a successful aircraft mechanic with the answers in the clutch goes far beyond formal training and into the realm of constant self improvement by studying the systems coupled with years of actually working an airplane. In my early mechanic days about 20yrs ago mech, my new wife would always ask why I study the books and fill the cramped apartment with schematic diagrams much to her wits end. I'd always respond by saying when the crew calls you to the cockpit, as a line mechanic, it's very uncomfortable to not technically understand what he talking about. There is a lot of pressure on the line mech to perform when called upon during a departure to avoid an unnecessary maint. delay. The more you know, which often goes beyond formal training, the better your comfort level and confidence and your ability to perform.

I heard UPS was having teething problems with their MD11's. I would suspect a tougher learning curve was in store because UPS never operated the DC10. Though very different in many ways it allowed FDX to have a more seemless transition to the MD11. Actually I'm being quite generous, we had many teething problems ourselves with the MD also, including numerous delaying glitches occuring because of improper power transfer practices (going from external power to APU power) which while OK on the DC10 or A300 was a no-no on the mud duck. Ironically, an improper power transfer (momentary power interruption) would sometimes manifest itself a couple legs later.

As much as I like the Airbus now, I disliked the very same model at American Airlines. I couldn't stand the the A300-B4 (Continental) yet talking with ex-Eastern Airlines mechs at FDX they had nothing but praise for the bird. Looking at some of their training manuals (rewritten by veteren EAL instructors for EAL mechs) I could see why. Many obscure systems made more incomprehensable by French technical writers were demystified and easily digested. I feel Airbus made a very bad error in their earlier years and to a much less extent today by not employing American technical writer to completely rewrite the maintenance manuals (for the U.S. anyway) and reformat the wiring diagrams (though the system schematic drawing are very good though not quite up to MDD Lamm schematic standards. Much is gained or lost on first impressions, the old maint. manuals lost many prospective converts.

The airplane, especially a new type is a continual work in progress between the airline and manufacturer for the rest of its life. If the airline decides to stake its business on a particular airplane (for FDX the A300-600 and MD11) continual improvements are made and the learning curve always trends upward. FDX's A300-600 are basically the most reliable plane in our fleet because of the continual determination to improve it. This is the same for many carriers. The A300-6600 is a great turnbird, it comes in and leaves without fuss, normally.
You're only as good as your last departure.

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