The aircraft lease return business

The aircraft lease return business has experienced tremendous growth over the past decade. Twenty years ago, there were not many aircraft leased by airlines. That has changed over time, and now leasing companies around the world own 50 percent of the global aviation fleet. With the growing number of the leased aircraft portfolio – almost 13,000 aircraft in 2019 – new challenges have arisen, both for airlines and lessors.

Regardless, whether you deliver or return a leased aircraft, its physical condition is the most pressing issue during the process. Why? Because the aircraft must undergo a thorough inspection to ensure the damages have been assessed or repaired and not left unspecified.

leased aircraft

Lease return struggles

Although aircraft are now modern and longer-lasting, the visual inspection process is still outdated and time-consuming.

We have identified 10 struggles related to visual aircraft inspections during lease returns, lease transitions, or between Part M and Part 145 organizations. 

aircraft lease return preparation
  • 1. The inspection process

    Aircraft inspections are still impacted by factors such as the inspector’s visual acuity and the work-place conditions (e.g., weather, lightning, additional equipment).

  • 2. The inspection duration

    As well as being challenging, the inspection process can take hours to complete with pressure in the process especially when there is a new lessee already contracted to pick up the aircraft.

  • 3. Data collection

    Instead of focusing on the aircraft, the inspector focuses on paper (taking pictures and making notes).

  • 4. Damage recording

    Keeping up the recording of the dimensions (lengh, width & depth) and location (station & stringers) of the deviation on the aircraft.

  • 5. Part M

    When the found damages are not reflected in the repair reporting it will raise questions if a proper repair is done and if it is well documented.

  • 6. OEM

    When the paperwork is inappropriate it may cause the involvement of OEM, especially when the repair is outside SRM limits.

  • 7. Aviation authorities

    If the record on physical condition is incomplete, the aircraft is grounded. Aviation authorities may not authorize the use of the aircraft under the new lessee’s AOG (Air Operator Certificate). It may result in repetitive full physical inspection checks and a delay in the aircraft lease return process.

  • 8. Dent-and-buckle chart

    The chart can be hard to read, especially with older aircraft where more than 500 (repaired) damages can show up on the chart.

  • 9. Damage SRM-based classification

    The need to assess if the damage is acceptable or not according to the SRM. The right classification is very important to determine which limits are applicable to the assessment of the damage.

  • 10. Comparing deviations

    The dent-and-buckle chart should provide a clear visualization of the existing repaired and not repaired damages. It can be hard for an engineer to compare the documentation with the actual physical aircraft condition.

To streamline the process, choose the right tool

Mainblades speeds up visual aircraft inspections, making it easy for you to do a complete assessment and generate an accurate dent-and-buckle chart with the push of a button. Our drone inspection solution comes in a single box and can be used both indoor and outdoor. Within 5 minutes, it is fully operational and ready to perform an automated visual aircraft inspection. From data collection to damage reporting on-site, the process has never been easier, faster, and safer.  

  • Full mapping and aircraft damage assessment on-site.  
  • Digital archive with immediate access to all the records.
  • Accurate reporting – a great help in dealing with involved parties.

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