Often when attempting to win a military campaign, one of the first objectives is to cut the means of supply to the opponent’s troops. The breakdown in the supply route is a major detriment to forces who are on the move. The need for food, ammunition, and parts to repair damaged equipment is vital for a successful operation. Often, the officer leading the charge receives credit for the victory, while the quartermaster, who maintains the assets unrecognized. In aviation, a reliable asset manager and supply system is the backbone of a well-functioning operation.
Fuel, maintenance technicians, and a dependable supply chain are just three crucial parts of keeping an aircraft operationally ready. Of course, money will always be the first and last asset; yet, if an aircraft is broken, money cannot just make a part appear out of thin air. Although, a well-trained aviation asset manager will have the foresight to recognize common parts that routinely break on an aircraft and maintain those things within the facility’s inventory.
Being financially educated in areas like Capital Expenditures (CAPEX) and common depreciation will help a flight department’s operational expenditures and keep the necessary parts available for use. Yet, even if a company is well funded, supply chains can still break down. Defective parts, changes in a manufacturer's priorities, suppliers with a depleted stock, and the inability to deliver due to unforeseen issues is only a short list of difficulties for an asset manager must face to keep a flight department operationally ready and safe.
When resources are difficult to obtain, personal ingenuity presents itself, and problems concerning safety can develop. Being resourceful is an admirable trait, but it has its limits when it comes to secondary repair costs, safety, and lives. Secondary repair costs can be the most expensive, because while trying to fix the initial problem, an additional issue may occur due to misjudgment or failure of the first issue. Now, there are two or more problems. Also, some items may not be re-stocked if unpackaged or slightly damaged. Then, there could be a re-stocking fee for those used items which is money down the drain.
In the case of rarely needed, as well as large and expensive, tools―know who your friends are. Become familiar where resources might be with other flight departments in your area, which may have valuable resources to share. Also, be ready to reciprocate by being a good neighbor.
Well-trained technicians also top of the list of resources required to get the job done on time, within budget, and safely. Receiving maintenance training from experienced maintenance instructors who are qualified in theoretical, practical repair, and troubleshooting is a necessary component in reducing the lack of resources. The knowledge that is gained is another tool in a technician’s toolbox.
To help minimize lack of resources, the FAA provides the following suggestions:
- Check suspect areas at the beginning of the inspection and AOG the required parts.
- Order and stock anticipated parts before they are required.
- Know all available sources for parts and arrange for pooling or loaning.
- Maintain a standard and, if in doubt, ground the aircraft.
Having a reliable supply chain, talented technicians, and an adequate budget for unexpected problems will provide the strongest offense to defend against a lack of resources.