15 Sep Aircraft Phase-in
Who chooses the cheap option, pays twice
Buying an aircraft is not like buying a bar of chocolate because it includes a variety of complex factors. This phase-in process of an aircraft into the fleet of a new operator combines airworthiness requirements, outstanding maintenance, and contractual considerations and is guided by the technical expertise of a CAMO.
Preparation for outstanding MX
The process starts with the customer’s desire for a specific aircraft type and SN. This is followed by the first hands-on inspection of the aircraft-related documents to verify the general inspection status, installed equipment and overall appearance of the documentation. A physical inspection of the aircraft itself will follow upon satisfactory initial document inspection. Based on this, a diligent CAMO will advise on which maintenance events will arise soon and their respective costs (which could include fees for the re-registration or costs for loaner/exchange engines due to upcoming engine overhaul). Therefore, the CAMO is that party in the process that gives a clear picture of the asset for now and in the future.
Different authorities have different requirements. Consequently, most Phase-Ins are challenging when it comes to a transition from one regulation to another (for example from EASA to FAA). The SBs and ADs which are applicable under FAA might not meet the EASA standards and vice versa. To deal with these issues deep knowledge of the regulations is required. The same applies to STCs and modifications.
Planning the transition process
To manage the transition process CAMOs need a deep understanding of technical aircraft management and everything that connects to it like spare parts sourcing, legal requirements, and the operator’s requirements that arise from day-to-day operations.
A good plan needs to consider the different forms which must be submitted to the various players who are involved at the right time and in the right order because all players (buyer, seller, MRO, lawyers, etc.) depend on the information from the others. In this complex net of players, the CAMO acts as the monitoring and planning party whose aim is to avoid friction and inefficiencies. Friction and inefficiencies would lead to a loss of time and therefore, a loss of money for the buyer. Moreover, the same challenges have to be dealt with regarding the documents that need to be established and authorized by the competent authority like the Minimum Equipment List and Aircraft Maintenance Program under EASA regulation.
To manage this complex environment, a CAMO needs a sound network of business partners, MROs, OEMs as well a good relationship with the authorities. The bigger and more experienced the monitoring party becomes and the more experience they have with dealing with every single party, the better the network becomes. During the entire process, it is a substantial advantage to know your go-to-contacts well.
CAMO: a helpful interface between seller and buyer
The contacts who finalize the transaction are the lawyers who are responsible for the final purchase contract. However, what is in the contract is determined by the consultancy of the CAMO. Every finding will find its way into the final purchase agreement and therefore will be a point of discussion between the two parties, both money- and handling-wise. A trustworthy partner in that process should have diplomatic skills to mediate between the parties while keeping the client’s best interests at heart.
To summarize it can be said that a lot of unnecessary costs can be saved by choosing the consulting party wisely. A good choice can save you time, money, and nerves. In this context, an old Austrian saying is the perfect ending to this article: “Who chooses the cheap option, pays twice.”
Wolfgang Büttner, Customer Care Manager
This article was originally published in Aviation Heaven Magazine in July 2021.