Hearing the acronym MSG might make some think of the preservative in some take-out food. But in the maintenance world, MSG-3 is the root of all inspection schedules in a process starting before an aircraft enters service. Here is a look at this fascinating process and how manufacturers and operators work to achieve the end result.
Led by Bombardier, most major business aviation manufacturers use the Maintenance Steering Group-3 (MSG-3) methodology in developing their recommended maintenance plans for recent-model aircraft. Like commercial aircraft makers, bizjet manufacturers convene Industry Steering Committees (ISCs) which produce Maintenance Review Board Reports (MRBRs), and these MRBRs are then approved by FAA or appropriate national aviation authorities. If a manufacturer later makes changes to the approved program, these have to be reviewed and okayed by the regulator as well.
Part 91 (Title 14 CFR 91.409) requires a business aircraft operator to select an inspection program, and, because of the limited analytic resources of individual companies, operators select the current inspection program recommended by the manufacturer, whether the program was MSG-3-derived or not. Len Beauchemin, managing director of AeroTechna Solutions, an MSG-3 consultancy and training company, told Aviation Maintenance he recommends the use of MSG-3-derived inspection/maintenance programs because the rigorous process, involving manufacturers, operators and regulators, produces safe, efficient and cost-effective maintenance programs. Otherwise you’re relying on the analysis of original equipment manufacturer (OEM) engineers who may "never have operated an airplane and may never have seen the part they’re putting a task on."
Once a manufacturer commits itself to following MSG-3, the process leads to an MRBR, which means heavy regulator involvement. Although this is more time-consuming and expensive for the airframer than the previous method of developing the maintenance plan internally, there are benefits. OEMs are able to gather valuable reliability data from the operators about how products are performing in the field. The MSG-3 route is attractive to operators because they have more input into the aircraft development process and enjoy greater efficiencies and cost savings.
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