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Having overseen reductions in
required maintenance frequency
for the A320 single-aisle twinjet
family, Airbus is now working to
understand the design's
ultimate ser vice
potential. e goal is to extend the
type's operational life beyond its
nominal 48,000 ight cycles (FC)
and 60,000 ight hours (FH).
More than 20 years after
delivering the rst A320, and
with over 4,000 examples of
the model and its variants in
service, Airbus has analysed
the type's operational and
maintenance experience and
established an "extended ser vice
goal (ESG)" development
programme that includes major
full-scale fatigue tests.
If its targets are achieved, the programme will
permit operators to y their eets for longer, increasing
revenue and bene ting from enhanced residual value,
according to the manufacturer. e move follows a
general reduction in the frequency of regular in-ser vice
maintenance tasks, based on feedback from operators'
e 4,110-strong A320-family eet includes about 50
variants and sub-variants of the basic design, including
A318, A319, A320, A321 and Airbus Corporate
Jet models powered variously by CFM International
CFM56-5, International Aero Engines (IAE) V2500 or
Pratt & Whitney (P&W) PW6000 turbofan engines.
Under a common maintenance programme, principal
maintenance tasks are governed by configuration
(including ser vice-bulletin and modi cation status),
annual utilisation, and operator policy.
Airbus's overall intention is to extend the scheduled
maintenance programme up to 90,000FC and
180,000FH through two steps, dubbed "ESG1" and
"ESG2". e initial step, planned for introduction this
year, is aimed at providing operators with a service goal
e manufacturer says the programme will "achieve
a balanced development of [airframe] structural
potential and optimised maintenance activities" for
the A320 family. ESG1 development tests conducted
at the company's headquarters in Toulouse, France,
and its German base in Munich have involved some
120,000 simulated flights, each characterised by
monitored operational data that Airbus has collected
from operators. ese development tests have been
followed in the ESG programme by detailed inspection,
preparation, and decision phases.
Airbus has run four major fatigue tests as part of the
overall A320 aircraft programme. These
are focussed on the for ward fuselage,
engine pylon, rear fuselage,
centre fuselage and wings.
Subsequent testing, which
simulates up to 180,000FC
and 360,000FH and
is planned to continue
until next year, aims
to validate the higher
ESG2 service goal.
"These aircraft have
impressive reliability," says
Clemens Hermann, Airbus's
programme project leader. "Customers'
in-ser vice experience, along with [our] own fleet-
monitoring data supports extending the ser vice goal. A
huge number of A320-family aircra have experienced
no major fatigue ndings, [which] has encouraged
Airbus to do these tests."
A320s are subject to industry-standard MSG-3
provisions, under which historic 'A' and 'C' maintenance
check inter vals have become exible. Tasks now carry
FC, FH, or calendar-time maximum intervals that
permit operators to optimise MRO planning , with the
A- and C-check labels still used generically.
According to Airbus, A320 operators adjust
maintenance inter vals to suit their own schedules. For
example, one has adopted a 20-month C-check cycle,
distributing six-year tasks between 60- and 80-month
checks to ensure maximum aircra availability, while
another operator uses 24- month C checks to save one
heavy-maintenance shop visit every six years.
Good "in-ser vice experience feedback" from operators
has contributed to the introduction of extended A320
scheduled-task inter vals that Airbus says have reduced
maintenance costs by up to 70 percent since ser vice
entry in 1988. For example, FH inter vals for C-check
equivalent work have grown by a third, while the
frequency of heavy-maintenance shop visits has fallen by
half and the typical period between A-check equivalent
jobs has increased by 70 percent.
Speci cally, maintenance tasks scheduled in the
original 350-FH A-check may now be performed at
any time up to maximum inter vals of 600 FH, 750 FC,
or 100 days. Likewise, the 15-month C-check interval
has become a 20-month, 6,000-FH, or 4,500-FC
minimum frequency and permitted intervals between
heavy checks have grown from four and eight years to
six and 12 years.
A further 25 percent increase in A-check inter vals
(to 750 FH, 750 FC, or 120 days, or a combination)
has been agreed by the A320 Industry Steering
Committee (ISC), while airworthiness authorities --
led by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)
and US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) -- have
approved the Maintenance Review Board Report
(MRBR) adopting the longer inter vals, which now
appear in the A320 maintenance-planning document.
e ISC launched "an evolution exercise" in 2009
under which it might extend C-check inter vals
by a further 20 percent this year. The resulting
24-month/7,500-FH/5,000-FC inter val, if
subsequently approved, would enable maintenance
planners to synchronise such activity with the existing
six- and 12-year heavy-check inter vals.
In response to demand from operators in Asia,
especially from low-cost carriers, Lu hansa Technik
Philippines has established A320 maintenance
capacity to accommodate two aircra simultaneously.
is work has begun with the provision of A and C
checks for local customer Philippine Airlines. ●
Ian Goold / London
Airbus plans A320 life-extension
experience, along with
[our] own eet-monitoring
data supports extending
the ser vice goal," says
ESG programme head
Airbus's ESG programme is aimed at doubling the number of flight cycles and tripling the number of
flight hours A320s can complete in their lifetime.
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