Not so fast gambling man. You’re comparing apples and oranges. The two systems are designed around very different principles. The USAF
requirements are much more stringent, in particularly with documentation and accountability, but that may be attributed to a higher turnover rate in the workforce. The FAA A&P certification requirements cover the entire gamut of aviation mx, from fabric and piston to composite and jet, and are very liberal with who can correct a given defect; whereas the military personnel are very task specialized and have a stringent accountability chain. As a Crew Chief my duties and capabilities were very explicitly defined, and if performing a listed critical task, required two person certification. The same job that required a specialist and two person certification in the USAF
may only need a Certificated A&P, who has done the task at least once, to complete the task. Example, a MLG tire change on the C-141, required a minimum of 3 mx log (AFTO Form 781A) entries, 1) Antiskid detector removed IAW 1C-141B-2JG-xxx 2) Tire removed IAW xxxxx 3) Strut serviced FOM tire change IAW xxxxxx. Each person changing the tires must be a 5 skill level (roughly an A&P); certified in there training records for EACH step of the tire change, and signed off by a task certifier, and must have completed the required recurring mx training. There are 2 IP inspections required by a 7 level (roughly an IA
) who is not performing the mx, only inspecting, one for the bearing serial numbers and one for the torque settings. When the task is completed the mx log entries must be "signed off" by both the person performing the work and inspector, and an electrician must perform an ops ck on the anti-skid system and the brakes checked for operation. The same procedure, by the letter of the law from the CFR
's, (the specifics will change based on particular airlines FAA approved mx program, this is the minimum) may be accomplished and signed off by a single A&P, who has performed this task once before in the presence of another certificated A&P, and a single entry in the logs stating that the tire was changed. Both systems are safe, but the difference is turnover. The USAF
system is designed around the fact that the 5 levels doing the tire changes probably have an average of 3-5 years AF
experience, and may not have that long on a given aircraft, whereas the Airlines workforce is much higher in average experience and long term specific employment. The USAF
has a vested interest in ensuring that a 19 year old 5 level Crew Chief and a 24 year old 7 level inspector, with only 10 years of experience between them operate at a safety level commiserate to a 15 year experienced Delta (or whomever) maintainer. The FAA doesn’t have as large of an issue with turnover, and thus more accountability and “core of common knowledge” may be placed on an individual. The USAF
also has much more stringent ground servicing requirements, which is a constant point of friction with civilian fuel truck drivers. USAF
regs go as far as specifically prohibiting certain kinds of fabric in clothing and are extremely conservative with grounding/bonding., for the same reason.
Both systems are tailored to specific needs; the FAA keeps passengers safe on aircraft that operate on established scheduled routes and intervals. The operational routines for theses acft are fairly rigid, and the companies can predict with a high degree of certainty at what points in the schedule certain lifespan milestones will be met and the operational environment and climate they will occur in. The USAF
on the other hand, operates on an extremely fluid schedule, maintaining a primarily reactionary outlook to long range predictions. Example, Boeing 767 reg #xxx working for xxxair is flown on routes a, b, c, and d. It is easy to predict the leg times on these routes and thus the total airframe accumulation rate and cycles over an extended period of time. Also, the climate (summer, winter) and geo. region is set (desert, temperate) and thus special mx considerations can be made for the jets. The USAF
on the other hand may have the same jet flying tactical airlift for a few weeks in a desert, then re-assign it to strategic support in the arctic for a while, then immediately turn it over to staff duties in a completely different region. This requires a different approach to long term mx scheduling. The other side is preventive mx, for the same reasons. This creates an atmosphere of extreme documentation and accountability, so when you have a younger mx force to deal with, you want to ensure beyond a shadow of a doubt that certain information reaches the right place at the right time, so that the mx needs of a particular airframe can be recognized and reacted to before your stuck in Kabul with an engine change that could have been done in Frankfurt.
Military aircraft are every bit as reliable as there commercial counterparts. The reason you will see more mx returns and RTO's in military jets boils down to money and ORM (operational risk management). The airlines must fly in order to generate a profit, and thus will take an MEL
list to its limits before taking a jet down for non-revenue ground time; the USAF
does not have thus constraint. Mil jets operating out of a MOB
(main operating base) such as EDDF will RTO or break in heartbeat, but you give the same crew the same malfunction on a short runway in Afghanistan, and they will go like a homesick angel. That is part of ORM, or deciding what is acceptable or unacceptable risk, both instantly and 5 minutes or 5 days down the road. Most airlines operate out of places which have support for them on a regular basis, and very rarely go to places where they have to be self sustaining.
Hope it helps,