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“How Old is Too Old”, Ageing Aircraft Maintenance Program

The speaker examined the relationship between ageing aircraft and flight safety including measures needed for dealing with the issue. Age can be managed by retiring the aircraft and replacing them with newer aircraft or through enhanced maintenance of ageing aircraft with necessary cooperation between the regulators, the manufactures and the owners.
Ageing of aircraft is a significant safety issue, but with adequate maintenance, the consequences of ageing can be mitigated.
Current and future maintenance programs can minimize the risk, but only if the operators adhere to the programs.
Prior to mid 1940s little attention was paid to metal fatigue in the design of aircraft structures. The problem of metal fatigue was highlighted in 1954 due to the fatal accidents involving the De Havilland Comet aircraft. Consequently, the process of designing aircraft to fatigue life requirements has evolved from nearly non-existent rules to an extensive set of fatigue and damage-tolerance regulations. These regulations apply today to all aircraft, both civil and military.
Aloha Airlines B737-200 accident of April 1988 brought a revolution in terms of design, regulations, aircraft maintenance and inspections.
Major aircraft accidents involving the De Havilland Comet, F-111, Boeing 707, Boeing 737, Boeing 747, the Concorde, MD-11 and C-130 will be discussed along with lessons learned.

Mr. Saeed Akhtar has extensive aircraft maintenance experience spread over 50 years. He began his aircraft engineering career as an apprentice in PIA, obtained his AME license in 1967 and rose to the position of Director Engineering and Maintenance in the airline.
He has also worked as a licensed Aircraft Engineer with Singapore Airlines on deputation from PIA from 1973 to 1976. During this appointment he distinguished himself in 1975 with Singapore Airline’s award of ‘Licensed Aircraft Engineer of the Year’.
After retiring from PIA he has served as the Director of some charter Cargo carriers in the private sector in Turkey and Pakistan. He is currently employed as General Manager Special Projects at Shaheen Engineering and Aircraft Maintenance Services (SEAMS), the aircraft maintenance arm of Shaheen Air.


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