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Engineering and support growth at BAE Systems Regional Aircraft

BAE Systems Regional Aircraft says 2010 was another successful year in the development of its customer support packages and in marketing its engineering expertise.

At the company’s annual results briefing, Sean McGovern, business director–support, reported that the new rate per flying hour (RPFH) support package was delivered ahead of the business plan last year. “It’s like an insurance plan for customers,” he explained. “Customers like the one-stop shop it provides for support solutions.”

McGovern acknowledged that the company has had to adjust its support operation to accommodate the widening of the geographical spread of the customers. As it has done so, new initiatives in support have been devised.

Regional Aircraft’s Total Support solution is now available in five modular elements – Jetspares 2020, airworthiness support, technical support, spares and logistics, and modifications – which enable customisation for each operator.

Jetspares 2020 itself provides increased flexibility, with a menu driven approach that includes the potential for support of the entire aircraft. Solution is scalable to meet the demands of customers of all shapes and sizes. “And customers get the best rates as we broker deals with the major suppliers such as Honeywell, Messier-Dowty, Meggitt, and so on, to get economies of scale for smaller operators. Our next aim is to expand into doing this for other aircraft types,” McGovern stated.

New modifications coming to market include those for gravel runways, enabling the 146/Avro RJ aircraft to feed more challenging airports. “Again, by forecasting requirement for customers we can reduce the costs for customers through ordering larger number of kits and getting economies of scale,” McGovern noted.

Inside the aircraft, the company will be improving aesthetics of the cabin by introducing LED lighting. “The LED bulbs last tens of thousands of hours, so in addition to improving the lighting performance, they also reduce ongoing maintenance costs,” McGovern added.

Finally McGovern announced that Regional Aircraft has embarked on a long-term maintenance programme for the Avro RJ to enable the aircraft to continue operations for at least another 20 years. There will be an update to the existing Supplementary Structural Inspections Document (SSID) which will complement the existing Corrosion Protection and Control Programme (CPCP) which already provides an infinite calendar life for airframes over 20 years. The objective of SSID is to extend the airframe life to 60,000 cycles on completion of this programme.

“We are investing heavily in this programme as we believe there is a strong future for the Avro RJ, as do our vendors, and we thank them for their support,” McGovern remarked. “Our overall aim is to keep the aircraft current and competitive and to ensure that operating costs are kept to a minimum.”

Mark Taylor, business director–engineering, reported that 33% of engineering revenue now comes from outside BAE Systems, up from 25% in 2009. “We expect it to be 50% by the end of 2011. This will be by winning business, not by shedding work within BAE Systems,” he confirmed.

The third-party work increased in 2010 with further contracts on the Mitsubishi Regional Jet (MRJ). Regional Aircraft Engineering will be involved in flight test installations and powerplant integration, noted Taylor, adding that, although the company announced its involvement last year, work with Mitsubishi Aircraft Corporation started in 2007.

Taylor added that the company is now reaping the benefits of a unified engineering team, with labour moving more frequently between contracts on OEM fleet support, BAE Systems programmes and external customers.

Bernie Baldwin
Editor, Low-Fare & Regional Airlines/LARAnews.net
HMS Belfast, London

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