Don't Fly in the Dark This Holiday Season

Posted by Carl Helka on

With 20+ years as a director of purchasing for a private jet company, there always seems to be that one A.O.G. (Aircraft on Ground) that brings added turmoil to the on call aircraft support staff every holiday season. Although many operators are ending their fiscal year and have a desire to keep inventory low, I learned pretty early in my career that I should stock up on some of the small necessities that can really save the day.  Normally these items consist of:

  1. Aircraft Sealants
  2. Lamps and Light Bulbs
  3. O-Rings and Seals
  4. Miscellaneous Hardware
  5. Other Consumables (Grease, Oil, Hydraulic Fluids, TKS, Etc.)

Number one on my list is always aircraft sealants.  The reason for this is actually pretty simple.  Distributors and manufacturers alike are wanting to reduce their year end inventory.  To add fuel to the fire, many aircraft sealants have very short shelf lives and often have low stock levels to mitigate the waste of product. 

I can not even count the amount of times that we needed to complete a simple job such as replacing a landing light only to find that we did not have the required sealant to complete the job.  In one instance, I can remember having to replace a Hawker windshield and was left without the sealant.  Luckily, at that time I owned this business and just so happen to have just enough sealant to ensure that the holiday passengers reached their destination on time. 

In other cases I have been forced to rely on some local sources to wriggle my way out of an AOG situation.  Although other operators maybe helpful in loaning or selling you the occasional light bulb, bolt, or o-ring, I have had very little luck in obtaining aircraft sealant during these rush times.  Additionally, I have always been fortunate enough to a large Boeing Distribution Center within a 2 minute drive from the operation.  However, these larger suppliers often adhere to a more liberal holiday schedule and a trip to their warehouse on Black Friday, or the day after Christmas is often met with locked doors.

Furthermore, it is well known that we all end up paying more during AOG situations.  This is tremendously compounded when you are having to drag a person away from their holiday dinner to make a trip to the warehouse and to an airline in order to counter to counter an AOG part.  In one instance, (a scenario that always seemed to baffle investors for the online parts marketplace) I was forced to pay close to $15,000 for a $.15 O-Ring.  The long story short, a paid charter to cover the missed trip would cost between $8-$12K, multiplied by multiple legs missed, and further compounded by the fact that the part would eventually have to be replaced anyway.  The cost of the seal was obviously heavily inflated due to the holiday after hours request and required multiple airline flights and customs clearances to arrive at the operation. 

Therefore,  as best practices, I always take this week before the holiday to ensure that I am able to limit these AOG requests by ensuring adequate stock of commonly used and hard to find items during the holiday season.  

Note on current status of PRC:

As stated above, there is a shortage on some PRC/PPG/PRC Desto sealants.  Call us at 888-798-4479 or email and we can cross reference the sealant to either 3M or ChemSeal / Flamemaster Sealants.