Triple Seven
Topic Author
Posts: 518
Joined: Fri Apr 07, 2000 10:04 pm

Third Party Maintenance Vs In-house Maintenance

Mon Sep 22, 2003 1:09 am

Just curious. How did most Third party maintenance company (Pemco, MAe, etc.) land a contract with big carriers such as NW and UA to handle their maintenance work?? I'm sure NW and UA would have to battle their own internal unionized A/P Engineers before sending their aircrafts off to a third party.

Do they strike a deal by splitting the work - half to third party and the other half internally??
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RE: Third Party Maintenance Vs In-house Maintenance

Tue Sep 23, 2003 11:42 pm

Hi Triple Seven, Buzz here. I could go into some detail if i still worked overhaul, i thank God that i moved out to the Line may years ago.

UAL had been contracting 20 to 25% of it's heavy overhaul to other companies for 5 or 6 years. Some of the Vice Presidents have seats on the Heavy Overhaul companies. Do i see a conflict of interest?

As of June '03 all of our heavy overhaul has been "out-sourced". The quality of the work is fair to good, occasionally we find a really bad safety-of-flight item that was missed. I think it's due to the low level of experience in the production line workers there - even if you have been a mechanic for a few years it takes a while to know what parts of an airliner need more attention. Almost any company can fill in the squares of a check list. But to know where to look and to spend the time correcting the problems on your OWN airplanes takes a different motivation. I think it's a long-term view of a comapny instead of the present short term view. But then i'm "preaching to the choir" because i'm convinced that "quality pays off in the long run"

I think the reason that UAL doesn't do it's own overhauls is to reduce the budget needed for heavy maint. It's an accounting game, the costs of badly overhauled airplanes drop into another budget... And the people managing don't have to deal with some union mechanics who have critically needed skills. But under the spectre of totally liquidating the company the Indy and Oakland overhaul bases were closed and sold, anybody who wanted to move could travel to SFO and do C-checks and some modification work (in a part of the USA that is very expensive to live).

I think there is a real benefit to having the overhaul, engineering, and maint. training departments close together: A problem seen in one department can be quickly communicated and resolved.

Alas, i fear UAL has too much in-breeding in the upper ranks.

Buzz Fuselsausage: Line Mechanic by night, DC-3 Crew Chief by Choice, taildragger pilot for fun.
Triple Seven
Topic Author
Posts: 518
Joined: Fri Apr 07, 2000 10:04 pm

RE: Third Party Maintenance Vs In-house Maintenance

Wed Sep 24, 2003 3:07 am


Thank you so much for your response. I've travelled pass Mobile Aerospace a few times and there are always UALs aircraft over there. It makes me wonder. That's the reason why I floated this question on the forum.

-Triple Seven
Sunny Mobile, AL
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RE: Third Party Maintenance Vs In-house Maintenance

Wed Sep 24, 2003 7:21 am

Even though I'm a line AMT I obviously get to see the finished product of an overhaul facility. At AA we still do all of our own heavy checks, at least for now. However when we took over Reno the heavy checks were handled by a third party. For the most part I was not very impressed by their work. Poor seal jobs, equipment not properly secured, wrong fasteners used etc. This is not to say the entire third party industry does shoddy work. This was just my experience with this particular company.
Never take financial advice from co-workers.
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Joined: Tue Jan 01, 2002 5:38 am

RE: Third Party Maintenance Vs In-house Maintenance

Thu Sep 25, 2003 9:43 pm

The thing is that third party facilities are less expensive.
They pay their mechanics between 14 and 25 dollars an hour. At my company we start at the higher figure.
The third party facilities charge, typically, 49 to 52 dollars a labor hour and the major airlines have a real cost in excess of 65.
A substantial number of major airline mechanics got their start at repair stations or as contractors. Quite a few more in the military. That's where the fist two years required experience can be gotten. Of course that means that the average worker at a repair station is somewhat less experienced than an airline mechanic but we all had to start somewhere.
It comes down to simple finances. If you're comfortable sending your Mercedes to Joe's Garage that's a good way to save money. Consistency is another matter.
One may educate the ignorance from the unknowing but stupid is forever. Boswell; ca: 1533

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