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Planning for a New Aircraft Delivery

Part 1 of 4: The Technical Acceptance

By Peter Zeeb | VanAllen

Each transaction and delivery is unique.  In some instances, you have the luxury of time to coordinate your efforts. But there are some instances where the delivery is thrust upon you and time is not on your side.  Regardless of your time limitations, there is one thing that will make the process less confusing, more enjoyable, and create better results; having a good plan.  Managing this plan proactively will avoid common pitfalls and eliminate stress on the entire team. 

The focus of your plan should be these four elements: technical acceptance, closing preparations, operational preparations, and entry to service. This article will focus on the TECHNICAL PORTION of an effective and efficient plan.

One month before delivery:

  • Typically, during this timeframe, the aircraft is built, interior is installed, and final testing is underway.  Contractually, the OEM may have even identified the date of final acceptance ahead of closing. 

  • Carefully review the purchase agreement for various provisions, concessions, and commitments by the OEM.  If you were not involved with the negotiations directly, have someone knowledgeable to the purchase agreement provide a briefing.

  • If you do not already have a relationship with your OEM Delivery Coordinator, schedule an on-site meeting to review the specification, optional equipment, and an overview of the delivery process, if you are not already familiar.

  • Review the physical status of the aircraft and any documented discrepancies to date.  Get a briefing from the production test flight crew on their observations.

  • Review the schedule and milestones leading up to the week of acceptance.

  • Obtain copies of the various service contracts and maintenance programs so you can become acquainted with their structure and optional service levels.

  • Ensure all registration number, SELCAL, and other applications are submitted.

  • Begin to order all your spare parts, equipment and tooling required for your level of maintenance at home.

One week before delivery:

This will likely be the beginning of the acceptance process.  The week will be a flurry of activity, conference calls, and navigating issues as they arise.  This is your last chance to make sure the aircraft meets your expectations before taking title; losing some leverage with the OEM.

  • The acceptance test flight should be orchestrated before you take off.  The test pilots will verify the flight profile and any special requests you may have during the flight.  If you have other team members with you, coordinate your responsibilities and areas to focus on.  Thoroughly examine all systems; interior, entertainment, lighting, and the ever-important Wi-Fi system. 

  • Document all acceptance flight discrepancies and have your Delivery Coordinator review their resolution or buy back steps.

  • Review and squawk the exterior paint in detail.

  • Inventory and audit all manuals, logbooks, and records.

  • Meet with key vendors like engine, apu, avionics, and communications.

  • Visit the customer support center where AOG, parts, and troubleshooting occur.  Learn their system and meet the key people responsible for your account.

 

Delivery:

At this stage, the pressure is often mounting from all directions to close on the aircraft.  There can be timing sensitivities from the OEM (quarterly sales goals), sensitivities from your employer (a pending trip) or mutual sensitivities like a holiday weekend or general deal fatigue.  Staying sharp and on-point during this window of time can make a big difference in the outcome.

  • Review all earlier identified discrepancies and ensure they have all been resolved to your satisfaction.  If a second flight is required to confirm resolution, don’t be shy to request it.

  • In some unique circumstances, there can be a discrepancy that will need to be resolved after delivery and closing.  The OEM is motivated to “do the right thing” but it will be very important to memorialize their obligation to include timing, location, and special circumstances or concessions.

  • Conduct a final review of all records and logbook entries with the Quality Assurance Inspector to confirm completeness and accuracy.

  • Ensure contractual obligations have been met by completing a final review of all delivery conditions outlined in the purchase agreement.

As the technical expert, you are the final word to proceed to delivery and closing.  If the delivery is to take place at another location than the manufacturing location, use that as another opportunity to review the aircraft one last time.

 

One month after delivery:

With a month of operations under your belt, it is a good time to button up any loose ends.

  • Have your local OEM Technical Representative visit for a day to review any discrepancies or anomalies that you may have experienced.  Leverage his/her knowledge to get better acquainted with the systems and unique quirks with any aircraft.

  • Finalize any engine, APU, and airframe maintenance programs you are considering.  You have a small grace period to enroll after delivery.

  • Benchmark and establish relationships with other operators; especially if this aircraft model is new to you.

  • For any post-delivery obligations by the OEM, continue to track them aggressively through resolution.

 

Creating a plan and sticking to it can help to ensure a smooth delivery process; the more you can customize the process to your specific make and model, the better.  Stay tuned for part 2 of 4 of the Aircraft Delivery Series: Closing Preparations.

 

Contact VanAllen to learn more.

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