Australia, New Zealand & the Pacific Airline and RPT Rumours & News in Australia, enZed and the Pacific

QF's Maintenance Outsourcing.

Old 30th Oct 2009, 20:51
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QF's Maintenance Outsourcing.

Maintenance Outsourcing.

Qantas Airways has endured a bruising time in relation to its maintenance operation and seen its much-vaunted safety record battered in the media and parliament as the safety and labour relations agendas have become intertwined.

The flag-carrier had been outsourcing maintenance work but after a management change and some high profile incidents, it is now bringing a substantial amount of the work in-house. It was having Airbus A330 heavy maintenance checks performed by Lufthansa Technik Philippines but more controversially was also planning to outsource Boeing 747 heavy maintenance to Malaysia Airlines in a joint-venture.

The view in the company was that it was cheaper to have maintenance work done overseas, particularly in Asia, and that the Australian workforce was inflexible. But following the departure of chief executive, Geoff Dixon, and Qantas Engineering executive general manager, David Cox, the plan has changed.

LEADERSHIP REVAMP
Under Dixon, the airline's strategy was to treat maintenance as a separate stand-alone business with its own profit and loss statement. But Alan Joyce, who succeeded Dixon a year ago has adopted a strategy of treating the maintenance business as integral to the airline - whether outsourced or in-house.

In April this year Qantas announced that, effective February 2010, the A330 heavy checks, would be done at Qantas' Brisbane, Australia facility rather than continuing to be done at Lufthansa Technik Philippines. But executive general manager of operations Lyell Strambi says that even though the A330 heavy maintenance work is coming in-house, the Boeing 767s already being worked on at Brisbane will be outsourced in future.

"We look at MRO as a total operation - some onshore and some offshore," says Strambi, adding that "we have our own facilities and it is important to keep a consistent activity." He adds that "you want a consistent fleet type coming through so the maintenance teams get efficient" otherwise "you will end up with broken lines of maintenance". Outsourcing is the technique used to counter the "broken line" issue.

Strambi, who was previously chief operating officer of Virgin Atlantic Airways, is also new to Qantas' management. He joined in December after the airline's reputational battering following a series of incidents last year.

In the space of a few months a Qantas Boeing 747-400 had to make an emergency landing in Manila due to a fuselage rupture; another 747-400 lost electrical power while on descent into Bangkok; and a 767-300 had to turn back to Sydney because of a suspected hydraulic system problem. In addition, the carrier grounded six Boeing 737-400s as a precaution while it investigated anomalies in the aircraft's maintenance records.

Some trade unionists leapt on the opportunity to blame the safety incidents on Qantas' move to outsource work overseas. It was later discovered that some of these aircraft were in fact worked on in Australia and Strambi explains that the problems had nothing to do with maintenance. But the all-important public perception was that Qantas' safety standards were suffering and that this was due in part to Qantas' cost-cutting and moves to outsource maintenance work.

Another factor that may have helped in the decision to bring A330 heavy maintenance to Australia was the Australian Defence Force's decision to award Qantas Defence Services a contract to convert A330s to military tankers and to maintain these A330s in years to come. Strambi says Qantas would have won the contract even if Qantas had continued to have its own A330s maintained in the Philippines. But he concedes there are synergies having the ADF A330s and Qantas A330s maintained at the same Brisbane facility.

Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association federal secretary Steve Purvinas says one of the benefits for airlines of doing heavy maintenance checks in-house is that the airline can generate extra money by doing third-party work. Having in-house teams means the airline also has greater control over quality standards and can "ensure an ongoing supply of experienced engineers in the local market", says Purvinas.

Day-to-day flight operations can improve too if heavy maintenance checks are done in-house. "While the aircraft is in a dismantled state during a heavy check, there are available spare parts that can be transferred to an aircraft on the tarmac that needs a spare part," says Purvinas. Other benefits are the money saved on ferrying aircraft and the predictability of costs, he says

BEYOND THE BRIEF
Purvinas adds: "If maintenance is done in-house, you can do additional work that sits outside of the contract. If outsourced, it is often a set price for a bare essential check required. You have scope in the contract for additional work but it comes at a cost and once you add up all the additional bits, it can be expensive."

Strambi at Qantas agrees the engineering staff often find things outside of the original scope of work. But he insists that if an airline "outsources to a quality shop there is no difference between the two".

There is also a benefit of outsourcing to a maintenance firm that works for many airlines, because the maintenance company may be aware of issues that your airline has not yet encountered, he notes. And he concedes that "with on-shore there is a bit of a benefit in terms of reputation - although that is more perception than reality."

But as Qantas discovered last year the hard way, public perception can be everything.

Flight Global 2009/10/29
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Old 1st Nov 2009, 04:44
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Australian Licensed Aircraft Engineers Association federal secretary Steve Purvinas says one of the benefits for airlines of doing heavy maintenance checks in-house is that the airline can generate extra money by doing third-party work.
In all the time QF and Forstaff have talked about doing third part work at avalon what has ever happened .
nothing !
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Old 1st Nov 2009, 06:21
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And he concedes that "with on-shore there is a bit of a benefit in terms of reputation - although that is more perception than reality."
Yet another "expert" who has never worked in a heavy maint facility (on-shore or off-shore) throwing around comments based on absolutely no experience.
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Old 1st Nov 2009, 06:41
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Just to clarify any confusion. I didn't make this comment -

And he concedes that "with on-shore there is a bit of a benefit in terms of reputation - although that is more perception than reality."
That was a Qf manager. It may seem a bit confusing due to the previous post. Sure not intended. Strambi has never worked in maintenance at all.

cheers
Steve
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Old 1st Nov 2009, 08:07
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Sorry mate, my remarks were not directed your way.
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Old 1st Nov 2009, 08:22
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anyway who ever said what ever this part below still stands.
In all the time QF and Forstaff have talked about doing third part work at avalon what has ever happened .
nothing !
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Old 1st Nov 2009, 09:38
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i thought ngineer had a valid point with regards mr stambi,
if he made those comments,

Strambi at Qantas agrees the engineering staff often find things outside of the original scope of work.
But he insists that if an airline "outsources to a quality shop there is no difference between the two".
my experience in H245 was not only finding 'things' outside the scope of
work, but fixing them at the same time. definately different to the horror
stories of the previous assclowns' outsourcing efforts.

There is also a benefit of outsourcing to a maintenance firm that works for many airlines,
because the maintenance company may be aware of issues that your airline has not yet encountered, he notes.
well, that worked both ways. i'd never heard of stapling high voltage electroluminescent emergency light wiring with office staples until
the 'quality shops' of the heavy maintenance world showed us how it could be done.

he does not come across as once working in a heavy maintenance hangar. i can get over that, since he recognises that a large airline does need to have heavy maintenance capabilities and the need for that group to be fully under the companies wing, indeed the whole engineering and catering department. If i recall the previous assclown wanted to get rid of them and in fact nearly did. mr strambi seems like a breath of fresh air for now.
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Old 1st Nov 2009, 09:59
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he supported the 280 virgin 'beauty therapists',
danish butter hardly rates a mention, lol.
Virgin admits mile-high beauty treats face axe - Times Online
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Old 1st Nov 2009, 20:46
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Try running an overseas outsourcing operation in the middle of a Global Financial Crisis that is not even half over yet ....and with most of your components priced in U.S. Dollars!
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Old 2nd Nov 2009, 05:37
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I love this bit
The view in the company was that it was cheaper to have maintenance work done overseas, particularly in Asia, and that the Australian workforce was inflexible.
YES, do it by the maintenance manual, no other option. Is this being inflexible?
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Old 3rd Nov 2009, 01:37
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Anyone not up with, why all the concern about maintenance outsourcing; could probably learn something from reading the following report compliments of Jet A Knight.

The Nimrod Review

Well! I hope then can.

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Old 12th Nov 2009, 03:04
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Thanks for the reference but eeeek, The Nimrod Review is 575 pages long - any shortcut/tips to what we could be looking at ?
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Old 12th Nov 2009, 07:17
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The ten page executive summary from pg 5 to pg 15 should be enough to wet any aviator's appetite.
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Old 12th Nov 2009, 07:47
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Isn't that what SQ and MH tried to do, and wasn't Steve Purvinas blasting QF for outsourcing work to SIA Engineering and MH Engineering, which are both inhouse airline maintenance companies who use spare capacity to service the aircraft of other airlines?

Or is it to say - if QF sends aircraft to other airlines' engineering subsidiaries for maintenance, that's completely unacceptable because outsourcing is bad and all that, but if other airlines send aircraft to QF for maintenance then that's fine?

Seeing that Jetstar Asia is now going to maintain their fleet as part of Jetstar Australia's (which means sending aircraft to Australia for heavy maintenance), should the Singaporean public be screaming that jobs are being shipped to Australia?!
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Old 12th Nov 2009, 09:01
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drpepez

Scream your heads off.That is your right to do so.I'd do it if were a local there.
Prob wont do you any good in Singapore.I think companies (and politicians ) are more susceptible to pressure here in Oz than in Singapore.

Unions will do what they wish to maintain jobs in country.That's their job.maintain employment and to seek wage increases for members who pay them to do so.
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Old 12th Nov 2009, 10:54
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Seeing that Jetstar Asia is now going to maintain their fleet as part of Jetstar Australia's (which means sending aircraft to Australia for heavy maintenance), should the Singaporean public be screaming that jobs are being shipped to Australia?!

No I think the people from Singapore should be pleased that their aircraft may be a little safer. In Australia household staplers are limited to paper products and prisoners are not allowed onto airports to wash aircraft prior to maintenance.
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Old 12th Nov 2009, 11:25
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WOW masked goatrider, you may be heartened to learn that the allegation that Singaporean prisoners were used to wash aircraft was completely baseless. Also, since I work at the airport I am fully aware of the security regulations - anyone with a criminal record is basically banned from getting an airport pass. Prisoners in Singapore remain where they should remain - in Changi Prison, not Changi Airport.

Regarding companies in Singapore being less susceptible to political pressure, it's indeed amazing that there is very little offshoring of jobs here, despite the fact that Singaporean wages are far higher than neighbouring nations. SQ shut down all its call centres in the English speaking world and routed the calls to a third party centre in India instead, while calls made from Singapore are still routed to Singaporean agents. All English speaking too. I did hear from people within SQ that they were petrified of handling the unions and govt should they shut down the SIN call centre.
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Old 12th Nov 2009, 12:02
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I hear the use of prison labour had stopped within a day so they could legitimately say that they do not use prison labour. This however was written at the time -

But Singapore Prisons Co-operative Enterprises (SPICE) might know something about prisoners being deployed in the airline industry. Aside from selling convict-made bookmarks and key chains, on its website SPICE notes Singapore Airlines subsidiary SilkAir as one of its "close business contacts".
How about the staples. SIAEC have denied that one too. They were found in many locations in EEL lighting power cables. SIAEC claim that they have no record of work on the EEL system. If that is the case, how did they lift the mid section floor boards to carry out the usual C check inspections?

It is good that SIA are petrified of the Sin unions and are keeping your work onshore. Best of luck and send me a pm if you need a new stapler sent over.
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Old 12th Nov 2009, 14:14
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As Dr Pepz notes, entry into the protected areas of the airport, let alone the aircraft, is prohibited to anyone with a criminal record as they will be screened prior to the issue of the airport pass. It's preposterous to think otherwise. So, that's one BS down.

But Singapore Prisons Co-operative Enterprises (SPICE) might know something about prisoners being deployed in the airline industry.
I've never heard of such an organization in Singapore before. The only official organization involved in the employment of prisoners is SCORE. SCORE - Home
Care to share where you got that info ?

It's been said time and again that the staples were not in the maintenance records and it was not done by the SIAEC guys. These things got discovered 10 months after the a/c left the SIN hangars.
Singapore rejects Qantas claims | The Australian
Couldn't someone from some line station stapled it there during that period? What's the proof that this came from SIN ?
And staying on the subject of staples, I still can't understand how the hell on Earth can you staple on a aluminium back ?

I was there during the period the QF a/c was in the SQ hangar and I clearly remembered a number of QF engineers were there to oversee the work. If that's the case, doesn't it mean that the QF engineers failed in their duty if the allegations are true ?

And do you see SQ a/cs and all the other airlines that send their a/c to SIAEC for that matter falling out of the sky or landing with an explosive decomp etc,etc ? If the work was so substandard, no aviation authority in the world would allow a SQ a/c to fly to their country to pick up pax. All of SIAEC,s certification permits would have been revoked if the allegations were true.

I can understand the Australian engineers and techs frustration and bitterness to see their parent company send their a/c to another MRO instead of them. But to spread baseless lies and questioning another person's professionalism to protect one's own is simply unprofessional and uncivilized to say the least. Simply childish.
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Old 12th Nov 2009, 22:31
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In Sydney Heavy there were plenty of LAME's to supervise the work so such quality issues would never eventuate. At most overseas MRO's, you are sometimes lucky to have more than 1 Lame overseeing work on up to 3 aircraft. This is how their operations become so cheap. A handful of QF LAME's maybe sent but not to "supervise and certify" for local's work in the role of a LAME. That is the responsibilty of the MRO. Besides, not enough QF LAME's are sent over to achieve this.

And staying on the subject of staples, I still can't understand how the hell on Earth can you staple on a aluminium back ?
Not quite sure what you are on about, but rest assured staples were on the EEL lighting power strips.

Most QF LAME's are used to the futile rhetoric of Managers banging the same old drum to the tune of
I can understand the Australian engineers and techs frustration and bitterness to see their parent company send their a/c to another MRO instead of them. But to spread baseless lies and questioning another person's professionalism to protect one's own is simply unprofessional and uncivilized to say the least. Simply childish.
in order to not scare away the travelling public. However as we have worked our system and seen the quality of our own work, then seen the quality of some others in the way they operate, experience speaks alot louder than perception.

Personally, I find it very distasteful and disgusting that such individuals do make these comments based on inexperience. It is a slap in the face to all individuals that worked hard to provide QF and Australians with the Invaluable, but often for-granted safety record they enjoyed up to today. It is almost a suggestion that this record is purely by chance, as every Miantenance organisation operates on the same playing field.... Well we don't.

Last edited by Ngineer; 12th Nov 2009 at 23:17.
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