Airbus Helicopters’ Support & Services business continues to expand and evolve in 2021, responding to customer expectations for solutions that improve availability, enhance safety, optimise costs, and enable them to perform their essential missions.
Today, 2,400 helicopters are enrolled with comprehensive HCare global support contracts (known as Smart & Infinite), representing 20% of the Airbus Helicopters fleet.
“Our HCare global support contracts demonstrate the tailored level of support and service that we strive to provide our customers more than ever in these uncertain times marked by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic,” said Christoph Zammert, Executive Vice President of Customer Support & Services at Airbus Helicopters. “Whether they are military or civil, small or large, near or far, each customer has its own unique requirements for keeping its fleet flying. Our contracts are customisable which allows us to meet these diverse needs with flexible solutions, covering spare parts, maintenance, repairs, technical support and training.”
Over the past three years alone, Airbus Helicopters has seen a 22% increase in the number of helicopters covered by a global support contract, and 98% of HCare Smart (by-the-hour) customers opt to renew, including most recently the Mexican Air Force which renewed parts-by-the-hour for its fleet of H225Ms.
Recent additions hail from the United States, Thailand, Japan, and Spain, among others. These customers represent a diverse set of mission segments, such as military (representing half of all HCare helicopters), public services and governmental (such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration) and a growing number from the air medical world. One of the latest customers to join ranks is Air Methods Corporation, which in February 2021 claimed the title of the largest HCare-covered civil fleet worldwide (31 EC145s and 80 EC135s).
The power of data
Gaining value from data continues to be an area of focus. In 2020, Airbus Helicopters increased the number of helicopters sharing data by 50% compared with 2019 thanks to partnerships with Maintenance Information System editors and supplemental type certificate providers. Customers sharing data can access more advanced analytics services, like Fleet Availability Monitoring or Flight Analyser - Helicopter Flight Data Monitoring, that help optimise their daily operations or enhance safety. Insights are also fed back to Airbus, enabling the company to identify ways of reducing direct maintenance costs or improving part availability.
And in the coming weeks, the company will launch a new package of digital solutions aimed at helping customers go digital, equipping their aircraft and daily operations with the right hardware and tools to make the most of their data for maintenance and logistics, airworthiness and engineering, and flight operations.
Airbus Helicopters has likewise initiated a transformation of its training offer in order to enhance the customer experience and better respond to their varying needs.
“Main elements of the transformation include a streamlined training organisation, new business models, tailored training plans, digital and local solutions, and reinforced flight operations support, all of which are key to enhancing operational safety,” said Sabrina Barbera, head of Training & Flight Ops at Airbus Helicopters.
Moreover, the H160 full flight simulator entered service in August 2020, and trainings for both technicians and pilots are underway. And in Grand Prairie, the new H145 Level D full flight simulator (FFS) will enter service in May 2021, bringing H145 FFS training much closer to North American customers, who will benefit from the OEM Sim Data Pack, providing operators with the most true-to-life experience.
Distance learning accelerated with the covid-19 pandemic, with more than 500 pilots and technicians training remotely over the last year.
Airbus Helicopters is committed to continuously improving its support and service offer and relies heavily on feedback gathered from customers workshops and surveys. The 2021 edition of Airbus Helicopters’ biannual customer feedback survey will be released in May.