The right step in right direction

Oct 23 - 29, 2000

The way PIA's freshly furbished B747-200 Combi aircraft rolled out in a mint condition on Tuesday last speaks a lot about the great volume of skill and spirit the PIA engineers have. The only thing required is to push them in the right direction, which seems to have been taken well by the present team of management in PIA.

The Boeing B747-200 aircraft, which gone through a "D", check before rolling out was completely repainted after total stripping of the paint. All galley units, toilets, stowage boxes and coat closets were overhauled and refurbished. Entire decorative laminates covering BulkHeads, galleys and toilets were replaced. Passenger seats, cabinet attendant seats, cockpit seats were also removed, overhauled and reinstalled with new seat covers. Complete carpet was removed and washed whereas the carpet in zone "A" and zone "B" were replaced with brand new ex-stock. The ceiling panels were removed and painted. Cabin hat racks were refurbished. 72 window outer panes and 35 window inner panes were also replaced. The average repair cost for this check "D" is Rs140 million while the direct material cost is Rs34 million thus the total cost of labour and material is Rs174 million. In case the job is done outside Pakistan, the labour cost would have been Rs385 million whereas material cost would be approximately 30 per cent higher than what it costed here in PIA facilities. It is estimated that by carrying out this check "D" in house together with the refurbishment of the cabin, PIA has saved Rs245 million towards the labour cost and about Rs10 million towards material cost.

Earlier four aircraft including one Boeing 737, two airbus A-310 and a Fokker F-27 have already been passed through the same exercise and flying with the rest of the flock.

The uphill task undertaken by its Managing Director Sher Afgan Malik, to refurbish the entire fleet by utilizing the available resources deserves appreciation especially in an atmosphere of acute financial constraints faced by the national airline. It is expected that if the restructuring programme of the entire airline was conducted with the similar professional approach, zeal and spirit, the return of the glorious past of PIA may not be a dream any more.

The Engineering Department in PIA was established with the inception of the Airline in 1956. Over the period of time the fleet of the airline has grown in number and the facilities have been set up in order to achieve self-sufficiency for maintenance and overhaul of all the aircraft being operated by PIA.

The fleet

Currently, PIA has a fleet of 48 aircraft, which include 5 Boeing B747-300, 8 Boeing B747-200, 9 Airbus A300, 6 Airbus A310-300, 7 Boeing B737-300, 11 Fokker F-27 and 2 DHC6 Twin Otter aircraft.

Unlike most of the other carriers, PIA Engineering is geared up for overhaul of the components, engines and the aircraft structures. The Engineering Department comprises of a Wide Body Hangar, which can accommodate 2 wide body aircraft with permanent docking of major checks and a narrow body aircraft for minor check. Aircraft overhaul hangar (Jet Hangar) which can accommodate all checks on Fokker F-27, Boeing B707 and B737 aircraft, Line Maintenance-I Hangar and Line Maintenance-II Hangar for Line checks.

In addition the department is having a fully equipped engine overhaul shop, component overhaul shop, propeller overhaul shop, avionics overhaul shop, pneumatic overhaul shop, ground support equipment shop and high power engine test bench for testing of the engines after overhaul.

Currently, PIA is performing the check "D" which stands for major overhaul of all the aircraft in its fleet.

During check "D" the engines are removed, pylon are removed, flight controls are removed, landing gears are removed, complete cabin is stripped, the toilets galleys and seats, side wall panels and ceiling panels are also removed and sent for refurbishment in the interior furnishing shop.

The Boeing B747 that had gone through the check "D" was completed in 8-10 weeks. During this refurbishment exercise all replacements were carried out during this grounding. Apart from overhaul and installation of the removed items detailed structure inspections was also carried out in wings and fuselage area. In addition 26 modifications were also incorporated, 36 floor panels were replaced while under toilet floor structure was also repaired. Cargo compartments were repaired and refurbished and all four pylons were removed and reinstalled after a major modification. This one modification alone saved $65312 to PIA.

Currently, PIA has launched cabin refurbishment programme for the entire fleet wherein all the aircraft, which will be coming for checks, will go out after cabin refurbishment. So far one Boeing 737, two Airbus A310 and one Fokker F-27 aircrtaft have undergone through cabin refurbishment exercise. In addition one Airbus A-300B4, one Airbus A310 and one Fokker F27 are also undergoing the cabin refurbishment.