ap&m 2016: Flybe signs five-year battery contract with Satair

Satair Group UK and Flybe have signed a five-year contract which will see the former assume responsibility for the supply of aircraft battery servicing and associated battery supply to the airline.

The contract will support Flybe’s fleet of Bombardier Q400s which use Marathon-Norco batteries and Embraer 175s and 195s which use Saft batteries, along with other aircraft types operated by Flybe under wet-lease arrangements across mainland Europe, inparticular the ATR 72-600s of Stobart Air. The batteries of franchise partner Loganair may be involved but that would be through third-party work coming to Satair via Flybe.

The work will be carried out at Satair Group’s UK battery facility near London Heathrow Airport. Around 2,000 battery services a year are expected to be performed as a result of this contract. “We serviced around 6,000 batteries in total during 2015 and I believe we ar ethe largest single battery service operation in the world,” declared Jon Ravenhall, Satair Group managing director operations repair Europe (UK).

“This important contract is growing evidence of an airline trend to outsource non-core services to improve quality and service,” he added. “The specific benefits to Flybe will be improved turnaround times, enhanced service levels, high quality standards and lower overall costs.”

“Batteries, like other components, must be serviced regularly, based on the number of flight hours they have accrued. Because a battery is not officially classed as a critical component, the systems it supports certainly are. In fact, there is a big ongoing debate on whether batteries should be classed as critical,” Ravenhall reported.

With Flybe, Satair will be working on planning deliveries and servicing times. “Most airlines will try to harmonise service intervals with battery service times, but there are plenty of instances when they don’t line up because of the flying hours,” Ravenhall confirmed.

Satair is a repairer of all the main battery brands – Saft, Marathon-Norco, Hawker-Enersys, Concorde and Acme as is a licensed distributor for all of these except Acme. The company’s workshop has 28 charging machines and its service turnover this year is expected to be around 7,500, rising to 8,000 in 2017 as this new deal with Flybe gets implemented – and that with just nine people working in the battery shop. “Four years ago, that throughput was fewer than 2,000 batteries a year,” Ravenhall recalled.

Currently Satair’s battery shop works on weekdays from 05:00 to 19:00, which enables two complete battery cycles. The staff cover that time in three shifts. Ravenhall noted that there is a 3-day turnaround for 90% of the batteries that the company services, with 96% completed within five days.

For weekends, two staff members are normally on AOG callout duty. According to Ravenhall, the company deals with between 30 and 35 AOGs per year.

Bernie Baldwin, editor, Low-Fare & Regional Airlines/LARAnews.net
Kensington Olympia, London

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