Another task presented to us in our Aerospace Engineering Management module mid-February was a single aircraft maintenance scheduling task. The background situation was that an aircraft was released from maintenance early to free up space at the hangar for another airframe requiring depth maintenance earlier than anticipated. The aircraft released, and therefore expected back at the line early (Monday 19th), was required to have remedial tasks that could be safely passed up at the base to be completed in readiness for re-entering service on Friday morning.

The objective of the task was to organise and determine if the list of necessary work could be completed in time for this deadline, particularly with the available resources. If not we were to determine how late the aircraft would be, or conversely how much overtime would need to be approved to ensure readiness. The task listing and duration as provided can be seen below:

Additional challenges to consider included the need to release all members of the permanent work staff for an entire day to complete mandatory annual wiring and husbandry re-training. Fortunately, it was quickly noted that Mr Firth can only perform Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) with the absence of the permanent staff, and this provided the opportunity to release them for the necessary training. The aircraft in question could also only be worked on during the 8-hour day-shift as the night-shift staff were needed to continue normal operations for the remainder of the fleet.

Having noted the resources available it was apparent that there were essentially 3 supervisors available for tasks, namely the licensed B1 and B2 engineers. As some tasks are in similar regions of the aircraft the same supervisor can be used for more than one task at a time thereby increasing the likelihood of completing the work on time. NDT on the other hand as previously mentioned cannot be undertaken during any other work and additionally required suitable preparation and post-test action. I therefore planned to have the NDT inspection carried out at the earliest possible opportunity, which was Wednesday, and worked backwards to ensure the necessary preliminaries were conducted in good time followed by gap-filling other suitable tasks to ensure the most effective use of time.

One task requiring specific attention was the fuel booster pump replacement as it was both a key safety concern and also a key time variable. As stated in the table of work the fuel booster change could take between 1.5 and 3 hours, and therefore for time planning purposes, it was deemed most suitable to assume the worst case scenario and plan for 3 hours. The primary safety concern was the open fuel tank state, meaning that the aircraft should be suitably grounded and ideally no electrical work should be carried out to mitigate any likelihood of residual fuel ignition. As you may note in the final solution seen here, the work conducted at the same time as this changeover was deliberately chosen to avoid the use of electrical power.

As this was my first use of Microsoft Project it was a bit of a baptism by fire, however, although a somewhat ‘clunky’ and cumbersome software to the uninitiated, the ability to set predecessor tasks and the notification of task and resource clashes proved helpful. Although an entirely fictitious task, I did come to learn that it is quite probably an element of any future career I would find enjoyable, as it highlighted to me my desire to undertake work with real purpose and tangible results whilst remaining a challenge to complete effectively and to time.

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