Monday, January 14, 2013
Astrid Nef, Assistant to Head of Maintenance
The maintenance of our aircraft plays a critical role in ensuring safe, punctual and cost-effective flight operations for SWISS. Time lost due to an aircraft being unserviceable is expensive, both in monetary terms and in customer confidence in our airline. Nothing annoys passengers more than delays and cancellations.
An aircraft consists of several million individual parts. To keep this highly complex system and all its mechanical and electronic components in the best technical condition at all times, there is an elaborate system of maintenance work in place. The SWISS Maintenance Division is able to take over all of this important maintenance work for the entire fleet and our customers worldwide. SWISS distinguishes between different categories of maintenance work: pre-flight check, daily check, weekly check and A-check.
The lowest-level maintenance event is the pre-flight check that precedes every flight and involves an inspection of the aircraft by the cockpit crew and mechanics. This check for visible external damage or leaks lasts between 15 and 60 minutes, depending on the aircraft type.
The next maintenance event in the hierarchy is the daily check, in which mechanics test individual functions of the aircraft, inspect the tires and brakes and replenish the oil and hydraulic fluids. A visual inspection of the aircraft is also carried out, both externally and in the cabin. Such a check is carried out on a daily basis.
Next in scope is the weekly service check, a combination of the work performed in the daily check with tasks such as topping up the water, air and oil and thorough cleaning of the cabin, which takes between 10 and 55 man-hours.
The A-check is carried out every 600 to 800 flying hours and depending on requirements. As well as general inspections of the interior and the aircraft hull, it also covers service checks as well as engine and function checks. At the same time the technicians replenish consumables such as oil, water and air and eliminate defects whose rectification has been postponed on the grounds that they did not impair flight safety. If any extensive seat repairs are required, these are also carried out during this interval inspection.
In addition to those regular checks, we also perform trouble rectification for unplanned tasks, which may occur anytime, such as bird strikes after take-off.
The SWISS Maintenance Division is based in Zurich and also has facilities and staff in Geneva and Basel. Some 450 technicians maintain our fleet 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. SWISS also operates maintenance stations capable of performing checks on SWISS and customer aircraft at 16 airports around the world.