Thomas Stöcklin (Head of Maintenance Control Center)
This is where all the action comes together: at the Maintenance Control Center (MCC). The MCC is the main contact point for our SWISS pilots, flight operations and the technical department in regard to any technical matter that may occur. The cockpit crews contact us either during a flight or on ground (upon arrival / before departure). If an outstation engineer, somewhere at a destination worldwide seeks additional technical advice, we are also ready to support him.
The MCC is open 24 hours a day and 365 days a year, with two MCC controllers on duty on every early and late shift. In addition to that, there are two to three troubleshooters working between 05:30 and 24:00 every day.
In 1993, I started my career as an aircraft engineer and continued working for Crossair in the Base and Line Maintenance Department. During that period I was able to participate as a flight engineer on a VIP charter flight operated with an MD-83, during which I was responsible for a smooth operation from the technical point of view. We visited countries like Jordan, the Seychelles, Zanzibar, Mauritius, La Reunion and Madagascar, which turned my work into a very special event. As an example, after arrival at La Reunion, there was no tow-bar available to push the aircraft away from the airport dock. Two pilots, one flight attendant and I had to manually push-back the aircraft from its position! Once having parked the airplane, we were told to move it again; luckily we had the French army assisting the exhausted crew for the second time. Overall it was a great experience, flying to foreign airports with no maintenance support and having no idea of what to expect and improvising on the spot.
When it comes to the large and extensive checks on our aircraft, we trust in the knowledge of MRO (Maintenance Repair Organisation). Those providers perform D-Checks (12 years), IV-Checks (6 years), C-Checks (Short range: after 24 months or 7500FH / Long range: after 21 months or 10`000FH) and A-Checks (800 Fhrs or 140 days) (on Airbus fleet).
My main responsibility lies in the ground-time support during these checks in regards to the entire work package. Most important is to assure the aircraft will be released on-time to get it back into operation as scheduled. I have to make sure all the planned work has been performed by the end of the ground-time and no MEL (minimum equipment list) items are outstanding.
By the completion of a check, a status report has to be issued and the log-book has to be completed. The performance of the contract being fulfilled will be checked. The offer will be compared with the final invoice and I also check any additional man-hours. If a delay occurs during a check so that the flight operation is affected, decisions have to be taken in accordance with our Maintenance Control Center (MCC) and/or Engineering Department.
An « Acceptance Flight » has to be performed after each IV and D check. Two engineers (mechanical and electrical), two pilots and a flight ops engineer are on board to monitor the performance of the overhauled aircraft. After landing, any possible action items will be defined during a debriefing.
The planning of the maintenance work for an aircraft is done by the short and long-term planning department within SWISS maintenance. The team is responsible for scheduling the work with regard to the required manpower, such as specialists, as well as to equipment, hangar space and material needed.
I started my career in the aviation industry in 1985 with Swissair Technics as an aircraft mechanic and became a ground engineer afterwards. In 1998 I changed to the planning department of SR Technics and in 2010 started working within the SWISS planning department.
For the past two years I have been leading a team of 10 short-term planners. There are five staff members on duty per day, working in early and late shifts and subdivided into the aircraft type groups: AVRO, A320fam, A330/340. Our office is located at Zurich Airport, right under the observation terrace and next to the tarmac because proximity to the line maintenance operation is quite essential. The team plays a very important role as a link between the engineering department, purchasing, troubleshooting and the aircraft engineers. All work performed on an aircraft is planned based on the due dates of the tasks. “Priority 1” tasks have to be done before the airplane departs again. Therefore, prioritizing is the key word for the planning work, since aircraft ground time is sometimes very limited for the performance of all maintenance tasks. Planning is influenced by various factors such as shorter ground times due to weather conditions or operational issues, unavailable material, equipment, hangar space - and manpower availability. A practical example that is very important for our passenger’s comfort is the coffee machine. There is a saying: “No coffee, no take-off“. Therefore, any coffee machine that is out of order has to be fixed as soon as possible.
Jürg Schmid (Resource Manager Line Maintenance International and Relief Engineer Group)
If you ever face the situation that your flight is delayed because of some technical issues, then it’s our maintenance department which swings into action to sort out the problem. Our airplanes at SWISS destinations all around the world are handled by licensed engineers who are always ready to do whatever it takes to get them up in the air again.
SWISS engineers are present at 16 outstations worldwide and are responsible for the maintenance of the entire LX fleet. In addition, some customer aircraft are also maintained by SWISS. Depending on the schedule for SWISS and our customers, the engineer count varies between 1–10 per station. For other destinations where SWISS Maintenance is not present, we buy the service from other providers. SWISS Line Maintenance International also consists of an administration team and relief engineer team in Zürich.
After working for SR Technics Switzerland for the past 13 years, I was one of the engineers who were transferred to SWISS maintenance as part of the Manumea project, which took place last April. I enjoy working for an airline, knowing that the airplanes I am working on are actually the company’s that I am actually employed at and not just the belongings of a customer. We are responsible for keeping the aircraft airworthy and fit to fly - all the time. Another advantage of my employment at SWISS is that I benefit from reduced travel fares, which allows me to pursue my hobby – kitesurfing - with great passion.
The SWISS Line Maintenance in ZRH performs Daily & Weekly checks for the entire SWISS fleet (there are about 160 daily departures outbound from ZRH). Sometimes it is very challenging to finish a job in time because the aircraft are on ground for only a very short time. When the aircraft arrives or shortly before it departs again, it can happen that the crew reports a defect which needs immediate repair. If a technical problem occurs during the flight, the cockpit crew can to contact the maintenance control center via radio to ask for advice about what would be best to do. Finally, the defect will be taken care of by our qualified team of SWISS engineers as soon as the aircraft is back in the parking position. What really keeps me going is the fact that after some hectic moments I can release the aircraft back into service, knowing that all is well with the airplane.
Have you ever wondered what keeps our fleet flying? The highest priority of the SWISS Maintenance Division (part of the SWISS Technical Division) is to keep all our aircraft in top condition so they can carry you to every destination around the globe safely.
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.
Proprio come a bordo di un volo SWISS accogliamo le persone, raggiungiamo le nostre destinazioni, atterriamo e siamo sempre pronti per raggiungere un’altra meta.
E’ proprio quello che da poco è accaduto in Italia dove abbiamo un nuovo capitano che porterà il team italiano di SWISS verso un altro memorabile “viaggio”.
Il team italiano ha recentemente salutato il precedente Regional Manager Luca Graf, il quale è stato in carica per quasi cinque anni presso i nostri uffici milanesi. Nello stesso tempo abbiamo dato il benvenuto a Stefan Zwicky che ricoprirà la medesima carica per il futuro.