Shaping a Services Approach

06/11/2011 – At last year’s Airbus Military Trade media event, Richard Thompson, head of Airbus Military Services, provided an overview to the evolving services approach:

In terms of concepts that we are developing, we’re moving from what has been for the last year’s traditional product support, all the usual things that you associate with a traditional product support—the MRO, the technical support, the technical publications, configuration management, continuous air worthiness support for the fleet, training services, spares and material support—we also are moving into helping our customers with urgent operational requirements, modifications, upgrades, role changes of aircraft once they are in service, et cetera—those kind of support services, and what we called our FISS, which is the Full In-Service support concept, which is effectively a performance-based logistic support service on a power by the hour type—on a flight/hour service type arrangement, where we wrap up a whole series of services into a single contract that guarantees the support the customer requires over a period of years, and he pays accordingly to the number of flight hours that he flies.

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Richard Thompson is now head of Airbus Military, UK and Philippe Galland, who has many years of experience in services, and is now Head of Airbus Military Services provided the presentation at this year’s Trade Media event.The focus of his presentation and the discussion was upon the effort to move beyond traditional product support towards more complete service support. Galland argued that Full in Service Support or FISS is of growing significance for customers in a time of fiscal constraints.

Among the advantages of FISS are the following:

  • Fixed budgeting with no risk
  • No need for repeat contracts for spares and repairs
  • Stock levels are optimized to fleet usage
  • A contract guarantee spares level availability
  • Optimization of the maintenance model
  • Customer mainly focuses on mission success while Airbus Military guarantees the fleet availability.

He provided an example of a mission support contract with the Spanish customs service given to Airbus Military.  Here the contract covers complete in service support for the service’s C212 S-200 fleet of six aircraft.  It is a two-year contract, which is renewable.

There is an Airbus Military joint venture with a service provider (INAER), which provides for:

  • Material management
  • Maintenance
  • Fleet management
  • Fleet civil airworthiness certification and transfer to civil register
  • Flight operation (INAER)
  • Provides for aircraft retrofits as requested.

The bulk of the briefing focused on the evolution of service approaches built around the entry into service of the two new core platforms being built by Airbus Military, namely the A330MRTT and for the A400M. Customers for both platforms have no single support model in mind.  The different models will vary across the customer base.

With regard to the tanker, he noted that:

The MRTT model for support and service is a good example of the variety of customer requests we can handle. We have the 4 different customers to deliver to this year. And they are asking us different models. We can be the fuller support contract manager, a contractor, or we can be a sub-contractor to local contractor.

He noted that support builds upon the commercial A330 experience.  Three of the four current customer nations have A330s in their major national airlines with flight operational and engineering experience.The models of support for the A330MRTT range from traditional airline-like models in the UAE to highly sophisticated Public Private Partnership models in the UK Future Strategic Transport Aircraft FSTA model.

Several of these models are detailed below:

Photo Credit: Airbus Military


With regard to A400M, this will be an a la carte approach as well.  But from the Airbus Military perspective, the challenge will be to “keep the global approach concept whereby one develops a common set of ISS services applicable for all customers whilst providing ISS arrangements established on a Nation-by-Nation basis, with the benefit of optimizing the overall ISS services development.” With regard to one example, France, Galland detailed the proposed approach.  Airbus Military has developed a joint French-UK support services proposal built around a mission success concept.  A national training proposal has been provided for French MOD.  The proposed MRO provider would be SIAE (Service industrial de l’aéronautique or SIAé) with the initial training provided at Airbus Military Seville Training Center.  And a joint venture has been established by Airbus Military with Thales to provide for total training for the aircraft.

Galland noted that the British and French are working together towards a joint service approach to the aircraft.“It’s very fortunate that the two nations have been able to come together for A400M support. Because then, we can conserve energy, in particular, on the management of the spares pool.”

"If everyone is thinking alike, someone isn’t thinking."

—General George Patton Jr.

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