Surprises: By their very nature they arrive without warning. People often claim to love surprises. Indeed- there are plenty of unexpected events that people can enjoy- and look back on and cherish for years afterwards. But there are plenty of potentially unpleasant surprises lurking just around the corner that can anger- frustrate- and prove very costly.Back to Articles
Money in the (Powerplant) Bank
Surprises: By their very nature they arrive without warning. People often claim to love surprises. Indeed- there are plenty of unexpected events that people can enjoy- and look back on and cherish for years afterwards. But there are plenty of potentially unpleasant surprises lurking just around the corner that can anger- frustrate- and prove very costly.
The unwelcome surprise of a flat tire (particularly disdained in the worst weather); an unexpected medical need; or the never-inexpensive surprise of an engine problem on the company aircraft. These are all commonplace enough to warrant us to hedge against those unforeseen events. We enrol in auto clubs for the flat tire; buy health insurance to protect us in the event of medical issues; and for the business jet owner- we can enrol in a protection program- commonly referred to as Maintenance Programs.
Maintenance Programs translate into many different benefits- depending on the individual who’s talking – and in all cases- a maintenance plan for your airframe and powerplants stands as one of the more savvy investments that you will make to insulate yourself from the budget disruption of a major maintenance event.
“Best of all-” explained an operator with an aircraft covered by a trio of plans- “these programs greatly even-out our maintenance costs for the routine- regular and preventive-maintenance needs that every operator encounters.” The programs in which this operator enrolled provide protections on three levels for the aircraft: the airframe needs unrelated to avionics or powerplant; avionics- both standard and upgraded; and- of course- powerplants – the programs on which we focus here. Another operator we visited simplified the process of protecting his asset- choosing a “Tip-to-Tail” program with a comprehensive powerplant element.
Regardless of how an owner or operator arranges for Maintenance Program coverage-engine plans should- in general- cover a minimum set of needs- according to a synopsis of several plans' benefit offerings:
• Hot-section inspections (scheduled and unscheduled);
• Routine maintenance needs (to and including scheduled service points to deal with lubricants and any other rotable items);
• Periodic engine washes (if approved for the powerplant);
• Removal and replacement costs (should the engine have to come off-mount);
• Loaner/rental engine(s) while a covered engine is off the aircraft for service;
• Overhaul at the proscribed time;
• Transferable coverage (making the program itself an asset that adds value to the aircraft at the time of a sale or trade);
• Renewable to the maximum extent possible.
Many companies offer maintenance plans that cover powerplants- including virtually all the major engine manufacturers- airframe builders – often in concert with the engine maker – and several independent firms. Independent firms highlight their abilities to tailor coverage to clients- and their abilities to provide proven service around the globe.
Engine makers stress their knowledge- expertise and experience servicing engines they made and their own networks of approved service providers – in-house and out. At the end of the day- however- what best works for any individual operator must hinge on what best fits their operations- their needs and (the main point of it all) their finances. Here we'll examine examples of plans available through an airframe OEM- an engine OEM- and through an independent- third-party plan provider.
Bombardier Smart Services
A common offering these days is a protection plan offered by the aircraft OEM that extends beyond their specific warranty coverage and- in some cases- provides warranty-like protection beyond the original warranty period provided by the planemaker. And there’s no surprise a company - with offerings as diverse as Bombardier - offers plans tailored for each product through the company's Smart Services cost-per-flight-hour solutions for the Learjet- Challenger and Global lines.
Smart Services provides the operator budget control over routine and unexpected maintenance needs using a network expert in the aircraft covered- Bombardier Customer Services - the umbrella organization for a network that functions 24/7 through nine service centers in North America- Europe and Asia- and backed by PartsExpress delivery.
The company operates 14 Regional Support Offices in 12 countries- its own training facilities in Montreal and Dallas. And in the U.S. Bombardier's service network is augmented by seven Mobile Response Parties. Bombardier's service coordination extends to support for the engines and avionics packages flown on their aircraft- making the company network a one-stop shop for most needs.
Owners of other jets will find that Cessna offers its ProAdvantage Programs for powerplants- parts and labor; Dassault has FalconCare; and Gulfstream offers its Field and Airborne Support Teams (FAST). Engines are generally an available component. But not every operator wants to tie all the aircraft care to the airframe manufacturer. Powerplant makers are particularly vested in their own support programs...
Just as an IBM PC user would be hard-pressed to expect premium PC service from an Apple Store- some Business Aviation operators prefer the specialized expertise of the company that made their hardware to keep it operating optimally. Business Aviation users flying on engines from Rolls-Royce can enrol in CorporateCare to manage costs and maintenance needs of their RR-powered jets.
As Rolls-Royce extols- “CorporateCare offers the only engine-maintenance cost program available that encompasses the experience and technical expertise of the engine manufacturer- the repair and overhaul expertise of Rolls-Royce- and the dedicated support of an established worldwide customer support organization”.
In summary- CorporateCare covers the BR725 (that powers the new Gulfstream G650); the BR710 (Bombardier Global Express- Global 5000- and Gulfstream's G500/GV/GV-SP- and G550); the Tay (Gulfstream G300- GIV/GIV-SP- G350- G400 and G450); and AE3007 (Embraer's Legacy and Cessna Citation X).
Rolls-Royce also stresses the low-risk- fixed-cost engine maintenance of CorporateCare and its comprehensive suite of engine-management services. The biggest benefit: predictable costs over the life of the agreement while covering all aspects of engine maintenance and management- including a lease engine to replace those in the shop.
Among the features included in CorporateCare is engine health monitoring- to track performance and anticipate issues that might arise- as well as engine-change and shipping- should removal be required. And don't forget about that replacement that will help get an aircraft from AOG to airborne as quickly as possible.
CorporateCare can bolster the residual value of an aircraft since it's transferable with the aircraft at sale – and the service is available 24/7 through Rolls-Royce's global network of service centers and parts supplies.
Not all aircraft operators have aircraft eligible for a factory program- while others prefer something different through an independent provider. The uncovered and under-covered provide the target market that's drawn more than 3-000 aircraft owners to enrol their aircraft in one of the programs available from Jet Support Services- Inc. (JSSI)- the Chicago-based pioneer of independent hourly cost maintenance services and one of the broadest- deepest players in a wide field of play.
JSSI offers a dizzying array of programs for new as well as pre-owned and older aircraft. For example- JSSI offers the first Tip-To- Tail® program covering a brand-new airplane- Gulfstream's hot new G650. Such programs are the bread-and-butter of JSSI's- which lays claim to be the only company in the world to provide coverage for nearly any combination of airframe- engine and APU model.
The company's Tip-To-Tail® Programs answer the demands of operators who want a single-source solution for the entire aircraft; a single-point contact for all its maintenance needs; and the cost-control and predictability of maintenance spending available only through the leverage of a cost-per-flight-hour program structure.
Of course- as Neil Book- JSSI's president and CEO noted at last year's NBAA Convention- it's the versatility and diversity of JSSI's expertise and reach that sets the company apart – and Tip-To-Tail® programs are the ultimate in the company's services portfolio. “We are constantly working to expand our program coverage to keep up with demand - especially with new aircraft models-” he said.
JSSI also offers programs individualized for airframes- engines and APUs- separately or in a combination that best meets the operator's needs. Last year JSSI also added programs for the Honeywell TFE 731-40BR engines on the new Learjet 70 and 75- plus a new airframe program for the Cessna Citation CJ4.
Through its Chicago global headquarters- its European headquarters in Farnborough- England- and regional offices in Hong Kong- Dubai- Rio de Janeiro- and with AOG/24- hour technical support in the Americas- Asia- and for Europe and the Middle East- JSSI's technical experts and representatives are always within reach. And the company last year crafted partnerships with businesses in China to further expand JSSI's reach. While many options for overall support exist- at more than 3-000 clients and growing JSSI remains a leader in the field.
Consult Maintenance & Financial Experts
The exact need of any given aircraft and operation can only be accurately assessed by those involved – a company's finance and maintenance experts. Maybe the aircraft enjoys warranty coverage for a while longer- or maybe an operator wants to augment warranty coverage with some additional protections or expand what's covered.
But there's no real debate about the value of engine-MSPs with per-hour pricing when the issue is linking reliable service providers with operators seeking some financial predictability to their aircraft service expenses.
Read more about Aircraft Engine Maintenance