Everyone knows an airline has lots of moving parts.
But behind the scenes of Qantas’ flying operations is a mammoth engineering service with 250,000 spare pieces of kit ready to be despatched for routine aircraft maintenance and repairs.
That’s a lot of parts to manage, but we want to make sure we have whatever it takes for our planes to be in top flying condition every day of the year to safely get our customers to their destinations.
As you’d expect, special care is taken to store more delicate parts such as computers, gauges and sensors.
We even have dedicated locations to store aircraft nose cones as well as a special workshop out near our Jetbase in Sydney where our engines are stored. So we’ve got everything from a $1 washer to a $15 million engine in our inventory.
But the rest – from windscreen wipers to nuts and bolts to sheet metal for aircraft galley repairs – are stored according to size at Qantas supply chain centres in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth.
And the parts that most often need to be replaced are brakes and tyres replaced during regular aircraft checks and oil for top-ups.
Because sticking to schedule is important to us as well as our customers, getting all our parts to where they need to be is a slick operation.
Small parts for urgent maintenance in other ports are sent via “safe hands”. So if an engineer needs a part in Mt Isa, the part will be handed to the crew operating the next service to Mt Isa to ensure it gets on its way and any delays are minimised.
Larger parts are transported by semi-trailers and on any given day there could be hundreds of parts moving about the network to keep the operation running.
Orders are despatched to 70 delivery locations strictly based on their priority and depending on whether the aircraft is waiting on the ground (which in Aviationese is abbreviated to AoG) or part of normal planned maintenance.
Keeping everything organised is a big task so that’s why at our Sydney facility we have a giant robotic crane system that stores thousands of parts in individual drawers.
A code for the part is typed into a machine and the robot will whisk up and pull the part from its special location.
And each part is labelled, to meet strict regulatory and audit purposes, which also allows us to track every piece of kit.
So every part has its place and there’s a place for every part.
There’s plenty more behind the scenes of Qantas on Roo Tales here.