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Case Study

Engineering solutions, improving satisfaction.

High flying results in aircraft maintenance.

Slow delivery, high compensation

A UK airline undertaking its own aircraft maintenance suffered from a low rate of on-time delivery of aircraft from its maintenance department, as well as low staff engagement. This impacted customer satisfaction as well as carrying costs through compensation payments and chartering of replacement aircrafts, totalling some £500k annually.

In addition, the maintenance facility faced challenges that had built up over a period of time:  poorly implemented processes, new IT system integration difficulties, lack of investment in support equipment and people and heavy workload throughout the year.

Lean tools & techniques

To support an improvement programme a team of Lean practitioners was formed and given 10 days of training spread over the engagement period. Each training session was aligned to the phase of work being undertaken and supported with intensive coaching.

The Lean practitioners undertook projects to identify the root causes of delays in the output of aircraft and then designed and implemented improvements. From facilitating workshops to analysing data, the Lean practitioners were responsible for leading their work streams, also involving subject matter experts from a wide range of sections and departments. This approach to problem solving was a key factor in understanding the problems and identifying solutions.

Using appropriate Lean tools and techniques, the practitioners identified a number of opportunities. One key issue was that the engineering personnel spent much of their day not working directly on the aircraft. The layout of the facility and processes in place for the management of spares and tools was causing disruption to the engineers’ day.

The Lean practitioners worked with local teams on potential solutions to problems, piloting activities that would improve the effectiveness of engineers working on aircraft:

  • Visual Management
  • Point-of-use tools and consumables
  • Spares issued directly at the pull of the engineer
  • 5S practices

Compensation payments down £500k, On-time delivery up 40%

Working with practitioners, local management and their teams successfully delivered many benefits for the airline:

£500k reduction in compensation payments
40% improvement in on-time delivery of aircraft from maintenance
• Capacity creation to improve planning and spares management

Throughout the project there was a strong focus on skills transfer to the Lean team, resulting in sustainable benefits and self-sufficiency on site for future improvements.


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