Outsourcing the A400M’s Through-Life Maintenance
In May 2007 “European Air Transport Command Agreement Signed” discussed plans underway by Belgium, France, Germany, and the Netherlands to create a joint “pool” of military transport aircraft, by coordinating all 4 fleets to make their planes available to participating countries under specified conditions. Belgium, France, and Germany have all placed orders for the 35-ton capacity Airbus A400M, which is scheduled to begin production in 2009-2010.
Now Defense-Aerospace reports that Germany’s BWB procurement agency has floated a EUR 1 billion (about $1.4 billion) initial tender for outsourced through-life maintenance of their 60-plane A400M fleet – and possibly France’s 50 planes, as well…
The BWB document, dated Oct 8/07, gives an expected service life of 30 years for both Germany and France’s A400M fleets, at an annual intended level of utilization level of 377 flight hours per aircraft per year (Germany), and 600 hours (France). Germany’s 2 wings of 30 aircraft each will be stationed in Wunstorf and Alt Duvenstedt (Hohn).
The A400M logistic concept defines three levels for the maintenance (ML 1 – 3), with ML 2 divided into on vs. off-aircraft activities activities. The contractor will provide MIL 2 off-aircraft and MIL-3 maintenance, as well as maintenance of specific general equipment “cross-utilized” in other air force aircraft types. Systems analysis capabilities for MIL 2+ requirements would be a cooperative effort at the location of depot maintenance, and the Contractor will also be responsible for establishing and operating a Support Center (SC) that keeps contractor and air force personnel fully trained and up to date. Additionally, the SC will be in charge of some parts of the materiel supply.
The BWB would prefer to have the system support for the A400M Weapon System provided by a single prime contractor under one 31-year contract, covering all fields of services involved.
The discrepancy between French and German flying hours expected over a 30-year lifespan is interesting, but even France’s 600 hours x 30 years is only 18,000 hours. Many air forces are flying 30+ year old Hercules aircraft with 30,000-40,000 flight hours, and this may be a more likely figure for both air forces. The initial tender’s most interesting sections involve quotes like:
“If a decision in favor of a French-German operational squadron (multinational operational squadron, if required) is made, this site will be included in the provision of services…” and “…with an option to include in the contract support services for the A400M Weapon System of the French Air Force (FAF), depending on decision about A400M support strategy still to be made by France.”
- Germany’s BWB, via Defense Aerospace (Oct 8/07) – Award of a Contract for the Provision of Overall Technical/Logistic Support Services for the A400M Weapon System