Aircraft parked long term need special care.

We hope you remain safe and healthy in the trying times. With the goal of sharing useful information during the pandemic, we offer the following message from one of our trusted aircraft appraisal colleagues, Joe Zulueta, of Aeronautical Systems Incorporated:

The impact from the Covid-19 pandemic is showing no signs of a quick resolution and it is becoming apparent that many aircraft could be parked longer than originally expected.  With this in mind, owners and operators should initiate short-term storage and preservation programs.  What may have first been anticipated as a temporary interruption lasting a few weeks, is now showing the potential for multi-million-dollar assets to sit idle for more than a month, or even longer.

All business aircraft, engine and APU manufacturers have established storage maintenance procedures outlined in Chapter 5 of their respective maintenance manuals. If those procedures are not followed, expensive engine bearings, electronics and components could suffer damage.

Parking any aircraft for the short-term requires different maintenance procedures than that of storing an aircraft for the long term.  Both short-term and long-term storage require specific preservation actions to the airframe, engines and APUs, since each aircraft model is unique.

In addition to the manufacturer’s recommendations, every week or two that an aircraft is idle, it should have its systems “exercised.”  This refers to operating every system as well as taxiing the aircraft, which allows for fluids running through the aircraft and the wheels moving to avoid the formation of flat spots on its tires.  Such actions should also include operating the airplane’s lavatory and environmental control systems as well as its Satcom and wireless internet, in case of software updates that need to be downloaded.

Whether the owner chooses long-term storage or shorter-term ground runs, all the work done must be well documented in the aircraft logbooks. The data required includes the duration of the engine runs and instrument indications verifying proper oil distribution, not just the fact that the run was accomplished. The more detailed information you put in the logbooks, done concurrently with the event, the better off you will be in avoiding significant degradation to values at time of sale.