KLM Engineering & Maintenance is KLM's technical division. It is one of the world's largest workshops for aircraft and has almost 5,000 people working around the world. No one knows more about aircraft than these people, and they know about all the forces that aircraft must endure all the time. These specialists inspect and maintain the aircraft and get them ready for every flight. KLM Engineering & Maintenance, which uses the most modern equipment and aircraft components, provides technical support to KLM and more than twenty other airlines at more than fifty airports. Engineering & Maintenance works very closely with Air France Industries, the technical division of KLM's partner airline, Air France.
The hangar is where aircraft maintenance takes place. It's really just an enormous shed or garage, only many times larger. The largest hangar at Schiphol Airport is more than three hundred meters wide, more than a hundred meters from front to back, and about thirty-five meters high. It takes six jumbo jets to fill it up.
Maintenance on the Apron
Aircraft that fly every day get a little bit of maintenance before every flight. That takes place right where the aircraft are standing, out on the apron, so they can get back into the air as quickly as possible. Ground engineers - specialized technicians - give each aircraft a thorough check in a short period of time. They check the components (an aircraft can have 30,000 of them!) against a checklist and according to any reports from the aircraft crew, and repair or replace anything that needs it. If an aircraft is not checked and without official approval, no aircraft is allowed to take off again.
Every four or five weeks, every aircraft has to spend a full day in the hangar for extensive maintenance. This includes thorough cleaning of the aircraft cabin. Technicians also check the outside of the aircraft very closely. If necessary, they will repair or replace things inside or outside the plane. This kind of maintenance will help take care of a lot of small problems, which could otherwise become big ones in time.
Every eighteen months, an aircraft goes into the hangar for a thorough inspection. Then there is the major overhaul, in which technicians take five or six weeks to more or less turn each aircraft inside out. They look at every nut and bolt, and every "bell and whistle," with extreme care. This can also include things like the complete overhaul or replacement of jet engines. Maintenance like this is required after a set number of flight hours, usually every five or six years.