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Speed merchants

Posted 8 April 2020 · Add Comment

Few scenarios are more time-sensitive than aircraft on the ground (AOG) situations, and it has given rise to ultra-fast delivery of spares. Chuck Grieve looks at how leading players meet the demand.

If ever a modern example of the old ‘time equals money’ admonition were needed, AOG situations would head the list.
It’s sobering to learn, from Airbus China no less, that ‘going technical’ could cost an Airbus A380 operator as much as $1.25 million a day in charges and lost revenue.
Little wonder, then, that logistics providers around the world reserve some of their fastest delivery options for AOG customers.
In response to demand, Emirates (EK) SkyCargo launched its AOG service in April 2018 after a year of research and product development. It has reported a strong take-up of the service in its first 18 months of operation.
Dennis Lister, vice-president cargo commercial development, said the service had more than 10,000 AOG shipments last year for a total of more than 800 tonnes and was expected to grow by 20% in 2019.
Speed of delivery, not surprisingly, was “the one key requirement” that came out of EK’s research. Lister said: “Our research also indicated that the most frequent shipment (mode) weight for AOG shipments was about 4kg. Taking these into consideration, we developed a bright red Emirates AOG ‘must-go’ bag, which is now used for last-minute bulk loadings and immediate retrievals.
“This has proved very popular with our customers: they know their shipment is not mix-loaded in a consolidated unit or pallet and can be easily accessed and retrieved.”
Adding to the time savings are more attractive cut-off times for acceptance and delivery of AOG cargo. For example, he said, for a shipment below 100kg, EK guarantees ready-for-collection (RFC) status within 2.5 hours of the aircraft’s arrival at destination.
Lister said Emirates AOG offers the highest priority within the group’s portfolio – “higher than even our AXA or priority product category” – ensuring that the shipment is not offloaded and reaches its destination according to the agreed parameters.
The AOG service plays to EK’s key strengths: its extensive global network, good belly-hold capacity in its Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 aircraft, and experience of transporting aircraft parts for its own fleet.
“Where a shipment is outsized or the destination is not on our scheduled network, we have an agile and responsive team, who can work with the customer for an optimal solution,” he said.
Emirates SkyCargo has a strong record for delivery as promised (DAP), he said, and cited the example of an AOG request received from a Dubai-based private jet operator, whose aircraft had ‘gone technical’ in Singapore and needed parts from its Dubai stores.
“The aircraft in question was due to leave Singapore the next day at 13.00 local time. We received the request from their agent at 17.00 and had the shipment planned and booked on to EK 432 departing DXB at 21.15 and arriving in Singapore at 08.50 local time. We managed to have the AOG bag offloaded, cleared and in the custody of the operator by 10.50.
“This was far quicker than our guaranteed service level agreement (SLA) of 2.5 hours for notification of delivery, and the aircraft could then operate as per the original plan.”
EK operates a 24/7 cargo operations control centre (COCC) in Dubai, which monitors the progress of high-priority shipments such as AOG. The COCC will rebook or reroute a shipment if there is a risk of it getting delayed.
“Our operators are used to dealing with AOG requests around the clock from across the world,” said Lister. “We’re geared up to respond to these enquiries over the phone, e-mail or even online through our portal There is a never a dull moment when working to facilitate AOG shipments.”
Operating its own fleet of more than 600 aircraft has helped FedEx build its ‘aerospace solutions’ portfolio of customisable services, including AOG support. It offers the complete organisation of urgent air transportation, combining best available flight, collection and delivery services.
Its service brings together experts with knowledge in logistics and customs with FedEx’s own network of aircraft, trucks, and facilities, along with strategic relationships with other carriers. The service extends to on-board couriers, charters and airside deliveries, as necessary.
“FedEx is committed to developing innovative products that make full use of our connected world to deliver the best service,” said Taarek Hinedi, vice-president of FedEx Express Middle East Operations.
International logistics company, DHL, is well-versed in AOG support. It uses a system of dedicated contacts throughout its global network to expedite delivery.
DHL works to achieve close monitoring, top-priority handling and on-time delivery, whatever the size of the critical component, by keeping everyone involved informed of the status of the items being transported.
Features of DHL’s AOG service include 24/7 customer service centre support, mission-critical express services, and individually agreed lead times from origin to the point of need.
Where Emirates AOG is a logistics-only service provided for the rapid transport of aircraft components by Emirates SkyCargo, EK’s freight division, others approach AOG logistics from the spares supply point of view.
One such is AJW Group, whose approach focuses as much, or more, on prevention of AOG incidents as on remediation when they happen.
Christopher Whiteside, chief executive and president of AJW Group, said its integrated AOG solution is an end-to-end service designed to reduce operational disruptions.
AJW uses predictive maintenance technology to forecast and manage aircraft component failures and to plan inventory locations around the world. “These strategically located inventory hubs enable us to quickly and seamlessly serve our customers through a network of local logistical partners and a round-the-clock dedicated AOG team,” he said.
“We’re constantly innovating to ensure we’re leading the way when it comes to our AOG service.
“Earlier this year, we consulted our airline customers to see how we could improve. As a result of those discussions, we now have an even larger team running our round-the-clock, 24/7 AOG operation.”

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