With COVID-19 impacting air travel in 2020, flight numbers undoubtably dropped but according to statista.com, there were approximately 38.9 million flights worldwide in the year before, 2019.
Thirty Eight point Nine MILLION.
As flyers, whether frequent or occasional, we don’t often think about the robust safety and quality checks required in the industry to ensure everything runs smoothly flight after flight. We know the inflight safety information and that the exits are located here, here and here but what do we know about the quality assurance of the actual plane?
Qantas, an Australian airline, once said “It’s easy to forget when you board a modern jet aircraft that you’re stepping onto one of the most complex machines ever created.”
In the aviation industry, quality testing takes place continually during the life of an airplane including rigorous testing before an airline purchases them. The video below gives a snapshot of the tests conducted before a plane becomes part of a commercial fleet.
For an active commercial airplane, robust maintenance and quality checks are a day to day essential to ensure it is safe to fly.
Airplane quality checks include:
- Routine pre and post flight checks including brakes, wheels, fluid levels etc – these checks occur before every take off and after every landing
- The A(B)CD check system
A checks are conducted every 8-10 weeks (after 400-600 flights) and can take between 6-24 hours to complete. Technicians check for damage of the aircraft, change filters, lubricate critical systems and inspect all emergency equipment.
B checks are now widely performed at the same time as an A check. B checks include tasks such as checking alignment and the wheel well hydraulics.
C checks are typically referred to as heavy maintenance. More expensive than A and B checks, a C check happens every 18 months to 2 years. Taking up to 3 weeks to complete, C checks are a structural examination and in-depth lubrication of cables and fittings.
D checks, the most thorough check of them all, are conducted every 6-10 years involving complex inspections and repairs to the entire plane; the plane is essentially dismantled and put back together again! Taking up to 6 weeks, D checks cost millions to conduct.
So what can we learn from the ongoing quality assurance of a commercial airplane? Any quality assurance process, be it an A check for a plane or completing Quality 4 Health + Wellbeing, is for the safety and experience of its service users. It’s about demonstrating high quality delivery and instilling confidence and trust in everyone who uses your service. Like the aviation checks, Quality 4 Health + Wellbeing accredited organisations can perform ongoing ‘pre and post flight maintenance’ regularly to ensure service delivery hasn’t slipped. Then, just like a jet-setting plane, a ‘C and D check’ when renewing their Quality 4 Health + Wellbeing accreditation!