Coffee makers : why are they not reliable ?


Few operators declare being satisfied with the reliability of their coffee makers (conventional or expresso /Nespresso®).

Air Support - Aircraft component repair - ATA 25 - Technical Paper

What is happening with those coffee makers?

An evaluation made from the fleet of our customers shows us an unusually low figure: a MTBUR of 1200 to 1500 flight hours (and not operating hours). For each operator, the repair of this type of equipment, often excluded of the maintenance nose-to-tail contracts signed with an MRO, results in a significant annual cost.

A study of the many machines which we repair in our workshops makes it possible to identify three main causes of this low reliability:

  • 1- Handling: we can observe that the users (flight attendants), constrained by the requirements of service, can forget the operating precautions which would be required, particularly on the most modern machines:
    To gain mass, plastic materials replaced metal, touch-sensitive pushbuttons replaced the electromechanical ones, etc., affecting the robustness of equipment.
    We can say that there are few possible actions on this subject. Operators have to pay attention to the machines’ robustness when they choose the type of machines to be installed on their aircraft.
  • 2- Electronics: Here too, the modern machines, full of electronic circuitry, are in difficulty. Let us remind that today most recent coffee makers are repairable exclusively using a laptop to dialog with their microprocessors! That is to say their level of sophistication…
    Still, it seems that the breakdowns are not rare in an environment not always well ventilated, but always hot and wet, in which electronics are supposed to operate.
    We will never enough recommend a daily maintenance on plane involving wiping of the coffee machine carefully, and making sure that no water infiltration is possible.
  • 3- Water quality: As in a domestic use, and depending on the water hardness used (calcium content), the machines can be scaled very quickly. Without regular maintenance, the accumulation of calcium ends up generating major plumbing breakdowns. Furthermore, the mechanical descaling realized during repair, releases fine limestone particles which can cause again a breakdown in a very short period: pipe clogging, valve blocking, etc.

There is an absolute need to not let coffee machines scale themselves seriously. We think that a regular descaling (every 400 hours of flight hours) realized with a liquid product is necessary.
At AIR SUPPORT, after a lot of tests, we use only alcohol vinegar for this maintenance. Not easily feasible on plane, it is however very easy to di in the workshop, as bug as the required means are available.

To the operators who wants to do this operation in-house, we offer the necessary means in the form of a cleaning bench, with, if necessary, training courses and advices to the relevant technicians. These training courses can be realized in our facility, by using our own means, or at customer's premises.

For more details, contact us !