An Aircraft Maintenance Planner is kind of a funny job title in a way because the folks we’ve known over the years have been more like firefighters than Planners… but why is that? With all the technology in the industry today, why don’t they have more information? Why don’t they know the problems before they’re encountered? And why is there so much work involved to “put out the fire” after the problem is discovered?

The calm before the storm

calm before the storm

Maintenance is planned ahead of time at airlines across the world: They know in advance what airplane will be in what city, the work scheduled to be accomplished, how much staffing is available, etc. And in just a few minutes… BOOM, their beautiful plan explodes! Weather in the Northeast, people calling out sick, and finding out that they really didn’t have that part in ORD like everyone thought we did. If it was only one plane, or one only city, maybe things wouldn’t be that bad. When it rains it pours, so the planners go from calm and under control to battling a raging meltdown in just minutes.

Regardless of the size of the airline, the ratio of Planner to Aircraft is roughly the same and they can get really busy. When the aircraft diverts to a different city, planners have to handle all kinds of stuff: update work package information, COMAT aircraft parts to a different city, see if they have enough staffing there or even check for contract maintenance who can help out… and this is just the basic stuff!

How do they do this today?

Even with some of the better maintenance software on the market, airlines still predominantly do it the old fashioned way: we call, we text, we email, we have sticky notes tracking all this to make sure it gets done and ultimately we pray it all works out! Sometimes Planners feel like these guys, wading right into the fire…

Just another day of maintenance planning

Florida and Virginia Guardsmen, firefighters extinguish a fire in a live-fire training simulator

In the world that SynapseMX is building, we’re going to make the Planners life a little easier! First, when an aircraft changes its overnight location, our Maintenance Planners won’t need to make phone calls to Materials, Maintenance Control, or the dozen other departments to see if we can do the work at another city – they would go into SynapseMX and simply change the location for the aircraft’s work order. When that happens, SynapseMX compares the workload scheduled against the resources available at the new location and automatically displays any conflicts to the Planner so they can fix it… before the aircraft arrives for the night!

Phone calls = wasted time!

Not only do we give you the information you need in real time, but we give you the tools to address the problem on the same screen, with as little work as possible. SynapseMX provides a simple “wizard” type interface that guides the Planner through solving a problem – no phone calls or emails required.

For example, once the Planner chooses to address the problem, SynapseMX will send an alert to the tool room telling them a tool needs put on the next flight out. It also alerts the Maintenance Manager about extra work coming for the night, providing time to call in some mechanics on overtime. Finally, SynapseMX notifies the Materials department telling them that parts need to be moved to the new location. When the other workgroups acknowledged the notifications, it becomes a feedback loop back to the Planner so he or she knows that the conflict is resolved and that no further follow-up is required.

SynapseMX is working hard to change that firefighter back into a Planner! Follow along with us as we build beautifully simple aircraft maintenance software! Visit our website at or follow us on Twitter @goSynapse