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Most of us wouldn’t contemplate travelling overseas without health insurance: one phone call will solve all your problems and it’s vital to your peace of mind. In the same way- Chicago-headquartered Jet Support Services- Inc. (JSSI) has been offering peace of mind and much more for business aircraft owners over the last 25 years- and is the world’s largest independent provider of hourly cost maintenance programs for business aircraft engines- APUs and airframes.
When your aircraft goes ‘tech’ it’s nice to know that just one call starts the JSSI rescue co-ordination process. The company offers flexible and affordable financial tools- managing the often unpredictable costs of operating and maintaining nearly all types of turbine-powered aircraft - be they jets- turboprops or helicopters. Worldwide- JSSI supports customers in over 75 countries and is the largest purchaser of business aircraft maintenance services.
In 2010- JSSI opened its second Business Aviation hub at TAG’s Farnborough Airport in England. This office is the core of operations for Europe- the Middle East- Africa and Asia- and JSSI continues to expand its international network of key technical advisors to be ever closer to clients.
In an exclusive interview with World Aircraft Sales Magazine- Farnborough-based Mark Winzar- Vice President- Technical Services Operations- JSSI- explains the company’s expansion strategy and trends- and hints at new offerings.
“We decided to make Farnborough our international headquarters and European hub; one of the real benefits is the continued expansion- growth and popularity of the airport-” he explained. “Effectively- we’re where our customers are- based- right in the passenger terminal.” [The company also has technical and sales offices in Europe based in Basel- Frankfurt- Paris and Vienna.]
Aircraft not covered by any such hourly cost maintenance program are known as ‘naked aircraft’. The programs offer far more than just protection for unscheduled events. They provide budget security- protect assets and limit financial risk- while making it easier for the owner or broker to eventually sell the aircraft. “We say that if an aircraft is not under an engine program as a minimum - it’s a naked aircraft-” Winzar outlines.
Aside from its presence in Farnborough- JSSI has a technical representative based in the free zone near major FBOs at Dubai International Airport and has a sales representative there too. In Hong Kong- the company’s technical support office is based in the International Airport’s Business Aviation center.
In India- JSSI’s man is based at Mumbai; in South Africa at Johannesburg; in Malaysia at Kuala Lumpur; and in New Zealand (also covering Australia) at Wellington. “We have global presence and also have a strategic partner relationship in China with China Business Aviation Group headed by Jason Liao in Beijing-” Winzar added- while indicating that JSSI is about to support an undisclosed Chinese fleet operator.
JSSI’s Farnborough hub will eventually be replicated in the Middle East and Asia- according to Winzar. “We’ll put them where we see the growth. It’s vital for us to have our people close to where the business is located. This will help achieve the company’s growth ambitions worldwide within five years.”
Winzar points out that globally JSSI has over 3-000 aircraft engines covered on its programs and a growing number of Tip-to-Tail® aircraft contracts. Around 35% of airframe contracts are from outside of the Americas- highlighting the global nature of its business.
“In terms of new business contract values in 2013- over 50% were generated outside of the US. New business is coming from the emerging markets of the Middle East- China- Africa and South America (the latter is the responsibility of JSSI’s Chicago HQ) and these regions are contributing very heavily to our success.”
JSSI’s client portfolio is also changing dramatically- moving from smaller twin turboprop and mid-sized business jets into coverage for G550s- Challengers- Global Express- Global 5000 and 6000s- BBJs and ACJs.
“The BBJs and ACJs are all engine contracts currently- but we are planning to launch a BBJ airframe contract which will cover everything apart from the bespoke interior-” Winzar elaborated. Tip-to-Tail® is now available for the G650 and is the earliest in an aircraft’s lifecycle that a program has ever been made available by the company.
The smallest aircraft types covered by Tip-to-Tail®- meanwhile- are the King Air family and Phenom-line- and JSSI launched the program for the Gulfstream G280 in January. JSSI’s new business in 2013 accounted for a 179% improvement over that of 2012. This company worldwide figure includes engine- APU and airframe programs. “Airframe contracts are a big chunk of this- it is becoming more popular and will continue to evolve in response to the market-” Winzar outlined.
“I’m sure there’ll be some more Tip-to-Tail® news coming out shortly as to how this will work-” he hinted. “Particularly in emerging markets- airframe contracts are much more popular simply- I think- because flight hourly budget stability is crucial. Support is also a major factor when selecting hourly cost maintenance contracts in emerging markets as maintenance support infrastructure is in a fledgling state. There is limited experience to deal with certain maintenance events and the workforce is probably not as mature as it would be in the US and Europe.”
The company is focused on covering the larger long range business jets as this segment has been less affected by the recession and has continued to grow. “We’ve done an inordinate amount of work creating programs for brand new aircraft and are taking more under our wing-” Winzar outlined.
“Historically- people with brand new aircraft haven’t taken our support programs because of the warranty. But ‘Warranty is not Maintenance’ and one of our educating arguments- especially in emerging markets- is that even if the aircraft is not flying much- you still have to maintain it in accordance with the manual - and a warranty will not cover that maintenance.
“Warranty may help in the event of a parts failure; it may help in getting costs back if defects are found as a result of maintenance - but effectively warranty is not maintenance!”
Although a small part of the overall JSSI business- helicopter contracts are predominantly ‘engine only’ although include some that are Tip-to-Tail®. “The helicopter market is something that- strategically- we intend to expand into-” Winzar elaborated. “Helicopters tend to work in fleets…and these operators are becoming far more educated on the benefits of hourly programs. Tip-to-Tail® has recently become available for the EC135 and EC145.”
As an illustration of the usefulness of having your aircraft covered on an hourly program- Winzar concluded with a case-study- giving an insight into how JSSI handled an AOG incident in China two years ago during Chinese New Year when a TAG Asia-managed Global Express (which was on a JSSI engine program) had to land at Chengdu with an engine problem. It was subsequently found that an engine would have to be removed.
“We were the first company to take a Rolls-Royce BR710 rental engine into mainland China-” Winzar recalled. “The paperwork was endless with thousands of emails generated. Even more import/export paperwork was required for the damaged engine and rental engine. We engaged Rolls-Royce On-Wing Care to do the engine change for us and we coordinated with TAG Asia.
“We had a meeting with the owner at ABACE 2012 who at the time was pretty upset because the aircraft had been grounded whilst a rental was installed and the engine was in mid-repair. The engine was repaired but later that year the second engine had an issue. That was also successfully supported by JSSI so when we met up again at ABACE 2013 the feedback received was- ‘Last year I asked why I’d enrolled onto such a program. This year- I say ‘thank you’ for the JSSI program!’ That speaks volumes for the benefits of an hourly cost maintenance program- especially in emerging markets such as Asia.”
From a strategic point of view- one of the advantages that JSSI offers is that it has a wide range of products covering virtually every type of turbine powered Business Aviation airplane and engine across the spectrum – also offering transferability so that owners can take the program from one aircraft to another- regardless of which OEM it comes from.