04/22/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 04/22/2021 14:40
Time is a limited resource. Once it's lost, it cannot be recovered. When there's an aircraft on the ground somewhere, the value of time becomes palpable for Trista Uhrich, Manager, Purchasing and Repair at Sun Country Airlines. She must source material and get it to the aircraft for repairs as fast and efficiently as possible, without sacrificing quality. To beat the clock, Uhrich relies on strong planning and communication from partners like Spirit AeroSystems. Spirit's Aftermarket Solutions help Sun Country maintain heavy repairs and repairs as planned. Uhrich also relies on strategic planning and support from Spirit to keep Sun Country's aircraft flying and to ease budgeting by eliminating surprise costs.
'The performance of our repair partners has a huge impact on our business, especially in an AOG situation,' said Uhrich. 'They can enhance our bottom line or hurt it. Delayed or canceled flights impact our customers' experience and create a ripple effect into other costs, including brand reputation. Good communication behind why and when we're going to see the material and then consistently delivering when and where the material is needed makes all the difference.'
As Sun Country grows, Uhrich must not only manage maintenance and repairs on the existing fleet but also juggle airworthiness directives on thrust reversers for newly purchased 737s. Given the volume and significance of repair work, Uhrich relies on strategic planning and support from Spirit AeroSystems to keep Sun Country's aircraft flying and to ease budgeting by eliminating surprise costs.
Mitigating surprise costs with strategic planning
Uhrich also values how Spirit's team of MRO experts step into her shoes and own her challenges as their own. Because of the relationship's collaborative nature, her team negotiated a fixed price for the repairs in their first engagement as well as incentivized pricing to manage unexpected repairs and create budget certainty with an agreed upon payment processing.
She also took advantage of Spirit's large pool of rotables, which includes more than 40 thrust reversers available for exchange on 737s. By facilitating exchanges when aircraft was scheduled for maintenance, Uhrich achieved efficiency and met financial goals. In addition to knowing when she was going to spend money, the joint planning provided Uhrich's team a predetermined course to more accurately facilitate logistics and expedite the entire repair process.
Candid conversations drive efficiency
The Sun Country team depended on Spirit's extensive original design and manufacturing know-how throughout the duration of their first engagement. With Spirit's highly trained technicians bringing first-hand production experience, Uhrich received proactive and candid updates on the repairs that she needed to keep her teams up to speed.
'The people at Spirit were willing to communicate fully with us and let us know what was going on with any problems that we were seeing,' Uhrich said. 'Spirit's candidness was reassuring. I can have a conversation and trust that they're doing the right thing.'
The Spirit team frequently reported on leading indicators to signal when a deeper level of repairs was needed. They also provided updates on lead times, current repair statuses and forward-looking needs beyond the initial contract scope. The communication kept Uhrich's three departments ahead of planning tasks, enabling them to proactively write up authorizations, and it provided plenty of leeway for when to expect parts back for additional maintenance.
Finding a strong partnership
According to Uhrich, the Spirit team's diligence had a major impact on processing thrust reversers through repairs as well as making sure all service bulletins were completed so that planes were airworthy. Their added effort helped her speed up the process of filing warranty claims with Boeing. Additionally, materials were turned efficiently, as were one-off items that Sun Country ended up needing throughout the program.
'Spirit's attentiveness ensured our program was completed on time. They were very accommodating, and the quality was what we expected from a designated OEM,' said Uhrich. 'They provided additional assistance with logistics, invoicing details, and teardown information, which was above and beyond what was needed. Their proactiveness and communication was a time-saver. I won't hesitate to engage them in the future, and we're actively looking to place them on additional contracts.'
Thanks to strategic planning, focusing on quality and proactive, candid communication, Sun Country's purchasing and repair team achieved their MRO ideal and made every second count.