Whatever other problems Qantas may have had as an early operator of the Airbus A380, it appears to be benefitting from a new approach to the potentially vexed task of managing spare parts supply. The Australian flag carrier has entrusted administration of its parts cache to Spairliners, the joint venture between Lufthansa Technik and Air France, in a move that has reduced its capital outlay on A380 components while giving it access to spares locally at costs directly proportional to actual fleet utilization.
Spairliners maintains a component pool of 750 part numbers and oversees a total fleet of 49 aircraft owned by Qantas (20), Air France (12) and Lufthansa (17). It also has signed reciprocal agreements with Singapore Airlines, Emirates and Korean Air for AOG loan. With the exception of Emirates, which has taken delivery of 20 of the 90 aircraft it has ordered to date, Qantas operates the largest A380 fleet, becoming Spairliners’ first customer in 2009. According to Spairliners, new technologies on the A380, such as the network server system, 5,000-psi hydraulics, variable-frequency electricity and electro-hydraulic systems, required higher investment in the build-up of repair capabilities. Compared with existing widebody fleets, parts also cost more. In its view, that circumstance has strengthened the case for A380 operators to resort to partnering or outsourcing for component support service.
“The service centers on guaranteed component availability and is based on a pool concept with main-base kit and line-station kit establishments,” a Spairliners spokesman told AIN. “Full MRO service is included, as well as warranty administration. In addition, Spairliners provides modification and retrofit management—the whole service as single-source provider.” Spairliners holds components in Australia to service the Qantas A380 fleet. The airline says it benefits from working with the parts supplier because it can access a large operating pool of components and can collaborate with other large A380 customers.
Meanwhile, the European Aviation Safety Agency is proposing an airworthiness directive that would require the replacement of rivet fasteners in the forward section of some A380s, close to where the radome meets the front fuselage. The procedure would involve replacing six aluminum rivets with titanium rivets, requiring about three-and-a-half hours’ work. The consultation on the proposed AD runs through March 14. According to Airbus, the proposed work is not urgent and there has never been an in-flight event related to the rivets.