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.