An Introduction to Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO)
For an aircraft to remain airworthy and safe to operate, it must undergo regular procedures to ensure that all components and systems are functioning as intended or are repaired or replaced as necessary. Maintenance, repair, and overhaul (MRO) refers to the maintenance processes that aircraft undergo, those of which are typically carried out at a major maintenance facility. Aircraft of all types undergo MRO procedures on a regular basis, be they airliners, military aircraft, general aviation trainers, and other types. As maintenance, repair, and overhaul enhance the longevity of an aircraft and its health, it can be useful to understand what it is and where it is carried out.
As discussed before, an MRO will often be a facility where aircraft are taken for the means of servicing. While such facilities may vary in type across the world, most will focus on processes such as maintaining airframes or engines. Additionally, avionics, electronics, and accessories all require regular servicing as well, that of which may be conducted away from the airport as such equipment and components will often be subject to different maintenance, repair, and overhaul requirements.
To better understand MRO, it can be beneficial to familiarize yourself with the individual differences between maintenance, repair, and overhaul. When discussing maintenance, one is referring to the work that is carried out to maintain the health of the aircraft. Similar to an oil change for a car, maintenance consists of small tasks that ensure that the aircraft remains in working shape. Repairs, meanwhile, are only carried out once something breaks down. Whether an instrument fails, controls malfunction, or a dent has been made on the airframe, repairs will be conducted to restore the original health and state of the aircraft and its parts.
Overhauls are the most complex processes out of the three, typically consisting of a complete aircraft teardown where each individual piece is removed, inspected, and reattached. The overhaul process is paramount to aircraft health as it allows for mechanics to inspect the aircraft underneath the surface. At this time, mechanics will typically keep an eye out for any unusual wear and tear or hidden damage that necessitates repair and replacement.
Depending on one’s aircraft and their needs, there are a number of MRO organizations that can be relied on. Independent repair stations are considered to be one of the most common types, and they can range from small shops to large facilities. For a small, independent MRO operator, such facilities may be situated in a secondary airport where a certified mechanic will work on each plane. A larger facility, on the other hand, will often operate at a major airport where maintenance workers will conduct MRO processes for a wide range of helicopters, corporate jets, and more.
Beyond independent repair stations, one may also utilize fixed-based operators, or FBOs. FBOs will generally operate out of an airport, and they may be relied on for line support, parking, and fueling that is carried out for resident and transient aircraft. Oftentimes, planes and pilots will rely on FBOs as their gateway to the airport, and many will operate a separate MRO facility to maintain the aircraft of their customers. In some instances, the facilities of an FBO may be large enough to include storage hangers, engine servicing, structural repairs, avionics replacement, and more.
Commercial aircraft are often subject to some of the most intensive stressors, due to the fact that they are regularly carrying out operations back-to-back with little downtime. With their tight scheduling, major airlines will often operate their own MRO divisions or companies. With a commercial airline hub, airlines can save money and ensure that their aircraft always maintain scheduling to remain airworthy while minimizing downtime.
Beyond such examples, other MRO facility types exist to accommodate the needs of regional airlines, corporate operators, and the military. When searching for an MRO facility, it is important that you only rely on those who are certified by the FAA. Additionally, repair stations may have different certifications based on their abilities, those of which may be centered around work on powerplants, airframes, propeller assemblies, instruments, or accessories. If you are a licensed repair technician or operator who requires top-quality parts for conducting MRO procedures, let the experts at Aerospace Buying help you secure everything you need with competitive pricing and rapid lead-times.
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