Sunday, March 7, 2010

Fast, Good or Cheap: Pick Two

There's an old saw in product design that goes, "fast, good or cheap: pick two." It means that:
  • If you want both quality and fast turnaround, expect it to be expensive.
     
  • If you want both quality and low cost, expect it to take a long time.
     
  • If you want both low cost and fast turnaround, expect inferior quality

The same principle usually applies to aircraft maintenance. When my company manages maintenance on behalf of aircraft owners, we usually use our best efforts to obtain the highest quality maintenance at the lowest possible cost. In other words, "good" and "cheap." To the extent an owner applies time pressure to get the maintenance done quickly, there will have to be a sacrifice in either quality or cost. Since sacrificing quality is often not an option in aviation maintenance (especially if it could compromise safety), faster usually implies more expensive. But since rushed maintenance invites mistakes, faster sometimes results in errors that wind up causing additional downtime and expense to correct.

Occasionally, getting the airplane back in the air as quickly as possible is worth increased maintenance cost. But often, aircraft owners apply time pressure to maintenance providers without giving any thought to the adverse consequences of doing so. It's always a good idea to think carefully before you ask for quick turnaround. There's no such thing as a free lunch.

13 comments:

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