The state of Line Maintenance industry

Direct Maintenance, a certified line maintenance service provider and member of Magnetic Group, has been successfully navigating the industry’s demand by opening new stations and adding new services to its portfolio. Undoubtedly, this success requires great industry knowledge and agility while tackling the upcoming challenges. Thus, to learn valuable tips and insights about the Line Maintenance industry, we sought expert help and interviewed Kaspars Podins, Head of the Production at Direct Maintenance. 

What are the recent challenges the Line Maintenance team is tackling? What takeaways do we have so far?

Like any MRO today, the most significant challenges are labour shortages and the procurement of highly skilled workers. Especially after the Covid-19 year, engineers had limited working options to keep their skills up to date due to the reduced flights by airlines, closing stations, etc. 

Also, the Aviation MRO industry has already started this year to be ‘chained’ by a lack of maintenance engineers and mechanics, leading to an increase in maintenance costs by MRO, which is inevitably reflected in the final costs incurred by airlines.

In tackling the issue, the answer lies with enhanced optimization practices and processes within MRO and the implementation of advanced software solutions.

All the world is going towards digitalization and automation – but aviation still seems to be old-school, and line maintenance seems relatively unchanged. How is it from the inside? Are there any innovations being deployed?

In Direct Maintenance, we have developed an internal process that allows daily monitoring of our stations and business data, reacting in real-time without holding extensive meetings and discussions.

Moreover, for Direct Maintenance adopting new practices and revising processes are top priorities. Besides, implementing newer technologies is on the list of our priorities. Changes are always constant, as continuous improvements are Magnetic Group’s proactive approach. New developments will happen within the organization in the upcoming few years.

What services are in demand currently? What influences the demand (maybe, for example, parking currently, or other?)

Direct Maintenance is continuously participating in airline tenders. Today’s highest demand is for maintenance services. Consequently, we focus on quality services in our current stations and opening line maintenance stations in new countries. Also, continued demand is for aircraft parking/storage services with re-delivery or transition packages. 

On top of this, Direct Maintenance is performing Ferry Flight support to customers in challenging regions under strict restrictions. 

As European countries have different regulations and never-ending changes to restrictions, airlines are now using the opportunities to establish routes, and MRO must be ready to provide line maintenance services.

What are the key things to consider when setting up a new station? What are the further expansion plans for Direct, including new stations?

For a professional MRO, it is necessary to adapt to customer requests and allocate available maintenance personnel and tooling based on demand. Thus, high importance lies in adapting to the new standard on short notice. Overall, the key takeaways are the exact processes in place, the ability to adapt to any changes, a proactive approach, and high discipline. With all listed, everything is feasible.

Regarding the expansion plans, we are currently expanding in Nordic countries. These plans are solely based on customer demand. Other projects will come along from 2023 onwards.

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