Keeping MetroAir in the Air: The Maintenance Program
One of the great features about MetroAir Virtual Airlines is the realism. In fact, the word realistic is the first part of our slogan.
There are a great deal of things happening behind the scenes every day here at MetroAir, and one of those is the maintenance program. In any airline, maintaining aircraft is absolutely essential to getting passengers and cargo to their destinations safely and on time – and MetroAir is no different.
The Federal Aviation Administration categorizes maintenance checks into four types:
A Check – performed every 500-800 flight hours, usually overnight at an airport gate. This type of maintenance does not impact MetroAir operations.
B Check – performed every four to six months, usually at an airport hangar. This type of maintenance can be incorporated into A Checks and does not impact MetroAir operations.
C Check – performed every 15-21 months or at a manufacturer-specified number of flight hours. This check pulls the aircraft out of service and includes a thorough inspection of the entire aircraft. This check is both time and space intensive – requiring about a week and an entire hangar to complete one C Check.
D Check – performed every five years, this check basically takes the entire aircraft apart and rebuilds it. It can take up to two months to complete a single aircraft’s D Check.
At MetroAir, the A and B Checks are completed transparently by our ground crews, and do not affect the aircraft schedules.
C Checks are our primary concern, as they happen fairly frequently and actually require pulling the aircraft out of service to be sent to a maintenance hub. Since we cannot just cancel flights while a specific aircraft is in maintenance for its C Check, we must constantly swap aircraft around to ensure we are keeping the entire scheduled filled as well as making sure the C Checks are completed.
You may already know that each bid on our schedule is assigned to a specific aircraft, assigned by tail number, but you may not notice the tail number occasionally changing. Let’s take a look at the aircraft information for MET551 :
You can see the current aircraft assigned to this flight is 415MV, an A320-231 based at Ontario, Calif. Let’s go behind the scenes and look a little deeper at this aircraft:
From the image, one can see the aircraft information, utilization, hours (shown in minutes) and cycles. One takeoff and landing counts as one cycle. This aircraft is in use for 70.8% of the week and has operated for about 738 hours over the course of 169 flights since the last time it completed a C Check, which was in August.
Nearly all of our small aircraft have completed their most recent C Checks, but there is still work to be done on the A330-243s and the 777-300ERs.
We have two locations where C Checks are completed, Victorville, Calif. (KVCV) and Kansas City (KMCI), and every aircraft in our system completes their C Checks at one of these two locations – Kansas City for all east coast-based aircraft and Victorville for all west coast-based aircraft. Getting the aircraft from its base airport to the maintenance hub requires a short ferry flight, which is available to any pilot rated to fly the assigned aircraft.
In the coming weeks, we will be able to resume the C Checks on the A330, so be on the lookout for ferry flights from Baltimore, Fort Lauderdale and Ontario – especially if you’d like to get a little experience in the wide-body aircraft but don’t have a lot of time to devote to one of their normal long-haul flights.