Ensuring high standards
Product quality and flight safety
Every year, millions of people board an aircraft equipped with our products and technologies. We aim to ensure that they land safely back on the ground. Safety first—for us, safe flight operation is way more than just a legal requirement. In aviation, it is fundamentally the highest priority. That’s why we place high demands on quality and safety in our processes along the entire value chain. Not least because reliable and high-quality products are our trademark.
Safety is imperative in aviation, and legal requirements concerning safety are subject to strict monitoring by the relevant authorities. This is why product quality and flight safety are just as important to us as well. The company must comply with the legal requirements imposed upon it as an organization that develops, manufactures and maintains products, parts and equipment for the aviation industry. These include aviation-authority licenses, approvals and certifications as well as safety and environmental requirements as legally mandated by regulatory authorities. Through stringent quality standards, we ensure that these are implemented across the Group and at all levels of the value chain in accordance with the law, thus adding value for our customers and partners. In addition, safe mobility solutions play a key role in the economy and society and represent an important global challenge for the future.
A Group-wide integrated management system (IMS) ensures compliance with laws and internal regulations and clearly assigns responsibilities within the company. One principle of the IMS policy is that “safety takes priority in what we do.” The quality framework is enshrined in a management manual that is binding for all employees and managers across the Group. The company’s dedicated quality department, Corporate Quality, is directly subordinate to the Chief Operating Officer (COO) and reports quarterly to the Executive Board on quality aspects and flight-related incidents. MTU Safety Management in accordance with the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) standard is part of the IMS and defines how to handle safety-related air-traffic events. Appropriate organizational structures and responsibilities, such as a Flight Safety Board and a Flight Safety Manager, have also been established. High quality standards together with product safety and reliability are enshrined in the MTU Principles as key corporate objectives. Through independent, accredited external auditors, we regularly validate and certify our IMS.
Sustainable product lifecycle
We take into account all safety and environmental requirements of regulatory authorities in the early stages of planning new engines for later use, and compliance must be documented as part of the certification process. We employ a comprehensive testing program involving test rigs and test series to validate the safe flight operation of our products. This includes being able to ensure safe operation during a hailstorm or a bird strike (following a bird ingestion event) and complying with strict limits on pollutants and noise emissions. MTU components frequently exceed aviation authority requirements, because our customers demand high standards when it comes to fail-safe operation and eco-efficiency. In addition, our manufacturing and maintenance of engine parts and modules meets all required occupational safety and climate protection standards.
Sustainability over the entire lifecycle of an engine
We examine our engine modules for their impact on the environment, health and safety throughout their development, production and operation lifecycles. Accordingly, we cover all major stages of a product’s service life. The key to our continuous progress is development. Our mission is to design every new engine we collaborate on so that it is greener, quieter and more fuel-efficient than its predecessor.
We use only fault-free and clearly identified components that have been approved by the appropriate aviation authority and are based on approved development documentation. They must also have been produced or maintained in compliance with aviation regulatory processes by a company officially authorized to do so.
In 2019, we didn't again record a single breach of compliance with regard to the quality and safety of our products.
The aviation sector has strict rules governing documentation in order to verify the airworthiness of components and engines. There must be no gaps in documentation for the product’s entire service life. We hold our suppliers to the same standards and audit them regularly to ensure compliance. To ensure quality and safety requirements are upheld, we have implemented comprehensive monitoring and testing processes along the entire value chain. Safety-critical components (engine components are categorized into various safety classes) are subjected to particularly rigorous testing to verify their technical quality. Strict requirements also apply to materials. Since fail-safe materials are a basic prerequisite for aviation safety, all engine components, including all materials we use, must be approved by the aviation authorities after undergoing extensive test series.
In the previous financial year, once again there were no breaches of statutory regulations regarding compliance in connection with the purchase or operation of our products that resulted in a fine, saction or warning for MTU.
Our quality standards are high
At MTU, we develop and refine our quality system together with our standards and regulations on an ongoing basis. This involves applying the ideas that emerge, for example, from collaboration in the Aero Engine Supplier Quality Group or from regular exchanges of experience and information among our quality managers in the aviation industry. In the reporting year, we improved our internal quality reporting system to better assess customer complaints, for instance.
We include all our employees in our high quality standards and provide key information across all locations through our Q.net quality network. In addition, several times a year we raise employees’ awareness of quality issues across the Group by providing them with relevant information (Q Info bulletins and lessons learned). We provide managers and employees with training on quality issues specific to the individual sites. Every employee receives IMS training.
Shopfloor/office management at all production and maintenance sites also supports continuous improvement: employees and managers exchange views on quality and other issues several times a week and initiate short-term measures if problems arise. We completed our Group-wide quality initiative for the commercial MRO segment at the end of 2019. With the initiative, we improved planning and maintenance processes throughout all MRO activities in accordance with best practice, or put ourselves on the right track making improvements.
We have customers and authorities conduct regular internal and external audits of quality issues to ensure that the uniformly high standards within the company are adhered to and that they comply with the regulatory requirements.
Customer satisfaction is at the core of all we do
A high level of product quality and safety is crucial for customer satisfaction. “High customer satisfaction” was a focus of our corporate objectives in 2019, with “quality at high levels” as a subordinate objective. IMS, our certified quality management system, supports us in ensuring customer satisfaction, process orientation and continuous improvement in all phases of development, production and maintenance. IMS takes into account, for example, the requirements of the standards ISO 9001, EN/AS9100, ISO 14001/EMAS and OHSAS 18001 (to be replaced by ISO 45001), and serves as a model approach in the aviation industry.
We set great store by customer complaints as an indicator of their satisfaction with the quality of MTU products. We follow up and analyze all customer complaints relating to products delivered in substandard quality. Appropriate measures are then defined and implemented so as to permanently eliminate the cause of the defects. In 2019 as in 2018, our goal was to lower or at least keep the number of customer complaints stable at all locations. We succeeded in doing this only at certain locations. At the majority, the number increased due to significantly higher production volumes and changes to the local product portfolio, for example, the new geared turbofan engine program or MRO parts repairs.
We are in dialogue with our customers
MTU Maintenance offers maintenance and additional services for aircraft engines and industrial gas turbines, and is thus active in the end-customer business. Direct interaction with customers, specifically airlines, leasing companies and energy producers, forms the basis of customer care. Once a quarter, we use an IT-based “voice of the customer” module to measure current customer satisfaction levels for our Hannover, Ludwigsfelde and Vancouver sites and for all main products. Each customer has the option of providing feedback about product quality, service, logistics and contractual terms. We use this valuable feedback to identify areas for improvement and initiate measures accordingly. Doing so allows us to continuously optimize our performance, increase customer satisfaction and stay competitive. In addition, MTU Maintenance Lease Services runs its own system for measuring satisfaction in the engine leasing and asset management business.