F1rst Support Center Goes Live For AOG Aircraft

 - November 10, 2010, 9:04 AM

BBA Aviation Engine Repair and Overhaul (ERO) has unveiled its F1rst Support global technical operations center located at Dallas Airmotive’s facility in Grapevine, Texas, adjacent to Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

The center uses integrated satellite-based tracking to coordinate and integrate all of the company’s AOG assets. It is staffed by field service technical managers who are knowledgeable in all engine product lines serviced by Dallas Airmotive. On-duty staff includes engineering, quality assurance and logistics personnel.

“The first person who responds to an AOG event is going to get the work. We don’t believe there’s anyone else that has this capability at this point,” Hugh McElroy, president of BBA ERO, told AIN. “We literally know where all of our equipment and personnel are all the time. Our field service technicians worldwide have GPS transponders in their cellphones. There is also GPS tracking of all our service vehicles, tooling, engine containers and rental engines. We can even track our engines in the air. All the data feeds back into our F1rst Support Center in Grapevine,” he said. 

McElroy said that when a call comes in, the center’s staff try to take care of it by telephone. The center has a video wall that can present live streaming video of the AOG aircraft with sufficient resolution and magnification to allow subject-matter experts to troubleshoot a problem thousands of miles away. The video wall also displays maps as required, the location of personnel and equipment, scheduling information, weather, continuous CNN news coverage of world events that might affect the situation, and overlays of airport delays. 

“In the past we had to make phone calls all over the world to find out where everyone was located, then more telephone calls to try to pull together the necessary assets,” McElroy said. “We believe this is a game changer for the engine-support industry.”

According to McElroy, the company has more than 115 field service personnel stationed around the world who are authorized to work on more than 80 percent of the engines in active service on turbine-powered business aircraft. In the U.S. they are A&P mechanics and often IAs. In other parts of the world the technicians are certified to perform maintenance under the local regulations.

In addition, the company operates 12 regional turbine centers around the world supporting four major overhaul centers and 10 mobile service vehicles. Preparations are currently under way to deploy more service assets and personnel next year and in 2012.

AOG teams based in Florida, the northeast U.S. and the Los Angeles basin have the equipment to perform on-location APU hot sections. Elsewhere, teams can do simple troubleshooting for removal and replacement of engines.

“We try to do as much as possible on-wing but we can pull the engine, put it in one of our containers and have it shipped to one of our facilities. However, we’ve found that most problems tend to be rigging or instrumentation that we can take care of on location,” McElroy said.

“One of the most important features of the system is its ability to forecast events and position the necessary engines, tooling and people in the right location. We keep track of historical information, and that reveals trends. It’s all about asset management.”