Slowdowns in Aviation Maintenance, Part 2: How an Aging Fleet Affects Turnaround Time

In this three-part series, we take an in-depth look at an industry-wide labor shortage, how it affects our clients, and what we’re doing to keep everything moving. Here, we address how an aging fleet also affects maintenance turnaround times. (In case you missed it, you can read more about the technician shortage in Part 1 here.)

Among Today’s Top Challenges? An Aging Fleet

Look around any general aviation airport, and you’ll see it: the majority of private aircraft in use today were built in the 1960s, ’70s, and ’80s. The resilience of these aircraft stands as a testament to great engineering and the care their owners put into them.

Despite good design and meticulous attention from their owners, however, these aging aircraft increasingly present unique maintenance challenges. Parts and systems that were reliable for decades are beginning to show wear, and it’s not always easy to repair or replace them.

Add these maintenance challenges to the industry-wide technician shortage, and the result is longer wait times. Some shops are even canceling maintenance appointments. (Which, by the way, Double M Aviation just won’t do.)

Why the Slowdown?

When we have an older aircraft in for its annual inspection, we often run into issues that haven’t been a problem before. We need time for the additional documentation and research these problems require, and we need time to track down hard-to-find parts. When we’ve planned for two to three weeks of work, but an airplane needs an additional three weeks of work on top of that, the slowdown is compounded.

That’s the reality of aircraft maintenance in 2023. But, as always, we have good news: Double M Aviation is all in, ready to support you with experienced technicians, constant communication, and our deep relationships and connections within the industry.

Obsolete Parts

Older aircraft were designed using components that were prevalent across industries at the time of their construction. But with rapid tech evolution, many of these once-common components are now hard to find or are outright unavailable. For example, the Cheyenne’s essential flap system has components that can only be found in existing planes. If certain parts fail and can’t be obtained, the aircraft can no longer fly. Similarly, the Beechcraft Bonanza’s ruddervators, made with magnesium (a metal known to corrode), pose another unique challenge due to corroded skins.

Repairing older aircraft can be likened to restoring a vintage car; the components of older models are often hard to find. Unlike in car restoration, however, the parts used in an aircraft must be approved by the FAA. Finding replacements requires scouring the market or accepting the hefty price tags associated with rare components.

At Double M Aviation, we have strong, long-running industry connections, and we have experience tracking down hard-to-find aircraft parts. We know where to look and who to ask to get the parts you need as soon as possible.

Judgment Calls

If we determine that a part can’t be obtained, we have to make a judgment call, determining whether the aircraft can fly without the repair. Thanks to the large number and wide variety of aircraft that we service, Double M Aviation’s technicians have the necessary experience to make this determination. We’ve done it many times, getting an aircraft back in the air safely, even when a component is unavailable.

Double M Aviation Stands Prepared

With a large staff of experienced, certified A&P technicians, Double M Aviation has people who understand today’s maintenance challenges and know how to find the best solutions. We have the complex knowledge and experience required to make the right decisions and get you back in the air as soon as possible.

While we can’t turn back time and redesign the fleet, we are committed to handling the challenges and providing an outstanding experience for our clients.

We Are Proud to Stand with You

Thank you for your patience and perseverance as we work together to ensure your aircraft maintenance needs are met. Despite the challenges present throughout the entire industry, we are thankful for the people that we work with and the strong client relationships that inspire us to always aim higher. To schedule your annual inspection or make a maintenance appointment, fill out our reservation form or call us at 863-940-3450.

Learn more about what Double M Aviation is doing to provide exceptional service amidst industry-wide challenges in Part 1 of our blog series. Next up: How Double M Aviation is investing in the future of the industry.


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