Government, medevac, and other special-mission operators of Bombardier Global and Challenger platforms can now access a version of Bombardier’s pioneering cost-per-flight-hour parts and maintenance programmes designed just for them, with the recent unveiling of Smart Services Defense.

BSA Challenger_Global formation

Source: Bombardier

The initiative builds on Bombardier’s 38-year, sector-defining expertise to provide cost-per-flight-hour programmes for business aviation customers. The new government and special mission-focused programme provides budget predictability for its Bombardier Defense customers and helps ensure these vital workhorses are unfailingly on hand when called upon.

Two years on from the relaunch of its former Specialized Aircraft division as Wichita-based Bombardier Defense, the company says it has responded to calls from operators of its some 500 customised variants – from air ambulances and head of state transports to sophisticated maritime surveillance platforms – for a dedicated aftermarket support package.

“The needs of these operators are different [from business aviation customers],” explains Guillaume Landrivon, Vice-President, Smart Services and Programs for Bombardier. “That’s why we decided to develop a solution that would meet the bespoke requirements of this market based on our long-held expertise in cost-per-flight-hour support.”

A key priority for most Bombardier Defense customers is predictable budgeting. While this is important for many corporate operators, for the government sector it is non-negotiable. “The number one concern in their world is knowing exactly what they will spend year after year,” remarks Landrivon. “We have Defense customers who ask us for a programme to cover the cost of certain labour and parts for up to 20 years.”

Bombardier is confident it can deliver those long-term cost coverage commitments to government clients, according to Landrivon. “Thanks to our experience with Smart Services over many decades, we know exactly what needs to be done to present a solid offering, including a pre-defined escalating formula to cover inflation, providing the cost certainty our government clients want,” he says.

Another difference that emerges when comparing government and special mission customers to Bombardier’s traditional corporate customers is the amount of use the aircraft sees. “A typical privately owned business jet might fly 350 to 400 flight hours a year, but some special mission aircraft will be airborne for eight to 10 hours most days, a mission the Bombardier Global aircraft is perfect for. It adds up to 3,000 or so flight hours a year, so their profile is much more like a long-haul airliner,” says Landrivon. “That means the maintenance requirements are very different.”

When delays in obtaining a critical part for a special mission aircraft can impact the mission, unplanned costs can take on a whole new dimension says Landrivon. “The operator needs a supply of parts next to the aircraft and a cost-effective, predictable maintenance solution.”

Many features of the new programme mirror those of the menu of Smart Services programmes available to corporate clients. Operators receive complete maintenance cost coverage on major components such as aircraft systems components (scheduled and unscheduled) and landing gear overhaul, APU coverage for all Global platforms, cost coverage for parts shipping, technical publications, a guaranteed flight-hour rate throughout the term and more.

Among the optional add-ons are coverage for the costs of scheduled and unscheduled maintenance and support from Bombardier’s Mobile Response Team. “Smart Services Defense is a vertical integration to cover the cost of all the services we offer.” says Landrivon.

Because of the sensitive nature of much of the equipment on a number of heavily retrofitted special mission type aircraft, Bombardier’s role can change to suit the need of our government customer, including allowing for the use of customer onsite inventory, which covers the cost of parts that the customer order. This also ensures the labour to be carried out on air bases by armed forces technicians, or by a domestically based specialist modification house.

However, according to Landrivon, there is a trend towards Bombardier providing on the ground support for special mission aircraft, especially when it comes to head of state aircraft. “We are seeing a shift where customers are asking us for a turnkey solution,” he says. “We’ve listened to our customers and have cost-per-flight-hour programs that can include onsite support.”

Landrivon says the impetus for establishing Smart Services Defense came from the special mission customers, of which there are around 160 in more than 50 countries. “This is a solution they have wanted for some time,” he says. “Since we set up Bombardier Defense, we have received many such requests from these customers.”