6 Quick Tips to Help You Choose the Right Repair Station

You have an aircraft part. You need it repaired. Despite your urgency, you dread having to send it to the MRO. 

They’re notorious for having high cost work orders, their lead times are never right, and getting a reply from them is faster with a horse and carriage. 

Skylink, MRO

Skylink, MRO

You have hundreds of MRO options.

With a little bit of knowledge and a loan, your FAA repair station is off to the races. There's very little barriers to entry. 

When choosing a part 145 repair station it’s not just about the quality of their repairs, even though that’s important, it’s also about their business practices.

“Never give a mechanic a customer service job, and vice versa.” -Share on LinkedIn

Here are some non-technical tips you should look for when working with a repair station...

Your aircraft material repair station should be open and honest

Honesty is the best policy. 

Honesty is the best policy. 

Transparency is everything. What’s the labor rate? What are the piece parts being used? Why did your unit fail? How are they going to help you? 

These seem like basic questions. Often this information is left out in order to hide the truth. 

A great example of what to do is a recent jackscrew repair we had. The jackscrew was in terrible shape. 

We spent countless hours piece parting and trying to drive down the repair cost. The repair started at $19,500 and we were finally able to lower the cost through our own piece parts to $13,500 (no additional labor added).
 
From the very beginning we mentioned that this unit was in very poor condition and it’s taking more time than usual. To make matters worse, the ball screw that was installed was completely wrong. They’re lucky this jackscrew didn’t cause the operator more issues while installed. 

The OEM was the only one who had the ball screw…for $35,000. That just won’t work. So we got them to do an exchange for $12,500. Still a significant cost advantage. 

So, the moral of the transparency story is, your MRO must be transparent. They should always look for ways to help you and be open about what’s going on. 

Being flexible isn’t just for yoga

Flexibility is a hidden treasure. You’ll rarely find it but when you do…it’s golden. 

Most repair stations are inflexible. They move slow. Following company procedures is great but not being able to make decisions or being able to solve problems is a curse.

Here’s a great example, Skyborne MRO, will go over and beyond to drive down repair cost through proper piece part acquisitions. In order to do this, additional time may be needed to source and cannibalize other units to draw out the piece parts, but we give multiple options. 

Sometimes it’s a balance between a lower lead time and a higher repair price and vice versa, but options are always good. So is flexibility. 

The more flexible the MRO, the better decisions they’ll make for you. 

Lead times are a pain

Lead times are a tough subject. It’s highly variable. 

If an MRO has a standard lead time of 14 days for an actuator but the actuator that’s sent in looks like it fell from the sky, it’ll create lead time issues. 

Lead time and cycle time commitments all boil down to communication. 

The better the communication on both sides the more likely lead times will be reduced. If a bad unit is being sent in, be honest. If lead times for a particular part are taking longer than normal, the MRO should be transparent enough to let you know. 

Your part 145 repair station should update you often. If an issue has occurred or the unit is taking more work, they should let you know sooner rather than later. Simple!

Be transparent like glass

No MRO is going to give you all the details. Why? I’m not sure. 

But a real partner will be as transparent as they possibly can. They’ll let you know labor costs, material costs with breakdown and lead time constraints. They’ll be open about issues and what they’re doing to resolve it. Just telling you your unit went BER creates no value for you. 

They’re transparent on everything that is necessary to get you a repaired unit at a fair repair price and with a fair lead time. 

If they can’t meet either of those, they’ll be open on why it can’t be done and the options available to overcome these issues. 

Great customer service

Everyone thinks they have “great” customer service. Yet, most MROs live on planet Mars. Seriously. The customer service is terrible. 

When working with an MRO, especially if it’s more than one, chose partners that give you great customer service. How do they communicate with you? Are they fast to reply? Do you get updates without asking? Are they available on the weekend? 

The last one I threw in there. 99% won’t do this but there’s one. 

They help you reduce costs and find contingencies 

Another key factor is how they are helping you reduce the cost of your repair. 

Are they charging you list price for the piece parts? They should find ways to reduce your repair while still maintaining the integrity of quality. 

They also should be well versed in helping you find contingencies. If your unit goes BER, do they give you an option to replace it, or just charge you an annoying evaluation fee? 

All of these points are very important. You want to work with an MRO partner who possesses all of them. Most MROs know how to repair an aircraft part, 99% know nothing about customer service

Choose wisely and make your aviation life that much easier! 

Have you have problems with FAA repair stations? Share your story below...