I have always wondered what goes on between flights when on a commercial jet airline. It takes so long, or maybe that’s just the anticipation of waiting that gets to me! I know they say there are preflight checks that must be done, and there is also routine maintenance for the commercial aircraft.
This is required by the commercial aviation industry, as well as US federal regulations set up by the Federal Aviation Administration and military agencies. Maintenance is necessary to ensure a safe flight each and every time a passenger jet goes up into the air. Now, how long does it take to complete routine maintenance in between flights on a commercial jet?
Line Maintenance Checks for Commercial Jets
Per the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), aircraft including commercial jets must undergo pre-flight and post-flight inspections. This includes routine and unscheduled maintenance for equipment involved in any flights. According to the National Aviation Academy, “The FAA requires each airline/operator to establish a Continuous Airworthiness Maintenance Program (CAMP).
The CAMP outlines routine and detailed inspections or “checks” of aircraft they have in their fleet… Aircraft have set checks at various intervals, often known as flight line maintenance checks and also four different types of higher-level maintenance: A, B, C, and the heaviest (D) checks.”
The line maintenance checks are the inspections that happen every single time a plane lands. These are the pre-trip and post-flight inspections where service checks are completed. This level of basic inspection for commercial jet planes must be carried out within 24 to 60 hours of flight time.
However, as the NAA points out, every aircraft has its own specified time frame for inspections including line maintenance checks. It takes only an hour or so to conduct a line maintenance check, as these are performed in between flights.
Therefore, we have solved the riddle and answered the main question of how long it takes to do routine maintenance on a commercial jet in between flights. However, this is not technically routine maintenance; it is line maintenance checks. Therefore, I will continue to cover routine maintenance schedules for commercial passenger jets.
As it turns out, the answer to this question really isn’t that simple.
Routine Maintenance Schedule for Commercial Jets
Routine maintenance for commercial aircraft is performed at a minimum of 400 to 600 flight hours. There are approximately 10 flight hours for an international trip, one way, and within a day, a plane can only travel at a maximum of 24 hours. Therefore, flight hours in the 200 to 600 range take a while to accumulate.
You would expect a commercial jet to go through routine maintenance every eight to 27 days based on its flight use. Of course, there is no way this would be the time between two commercial passenger flights. That is why you want to consider the line maintenance checks when determining how long it takes for technicians to conduct routine maintenance between flights.
The first more intensive type of inspection is the A check level of inspection, which is most commonly done for commercial jets.
The time frame for completing routine maintenance is much longer than with the line maintenance check. With an A check, the results can reveal corrosion, deformation, or missing parts of an aircraft.
As a result, the A check inspection cannot be completed until all areas of the maintenance and repairs are completed and checks are made by the lead technician. This can take hours or days depending on the workload of the aircraft technicians involved in making repairs, as well as on the availability of hangar space for the aircraft.
B, C and D Checks for Jets
The next three – B checks, C checks, and D checks – are less frequent but more labor-intensive. Here you have the B check, which is conducted every six to eight months. This is not between flights and requires a plane to be out of commission for at least 160 to 180 labor hours during the inspection process.
The plane will also be housed in an airplane hanger for one to three days while the B check phase is completed. C and D checks are part of the heavy maintenance category for commercial jet planes.
According to NAA, “The C check requires an aviation maintenance technician to perform a deep inspection of a majority of the aircraft’s parts. Also, the C maintenance check can often take the aircraft out of service for 1–2 weeks. This type of check often requires an aircraft to stay at a maintenance facility for the necessary space/tools/maintenance technician working hours/materials.
Up to 6,000 maintenance hours are typically needed for C checks.” D checks, meanwhile, don’t have to be done but once in six to 10 years. These are full inspections lasting for four to six weeks, and involving 30,000 to 50,000 labor hours. The goal of the D check phase is to identify any damage or corrosion to the aircraft.