Airbus Helicopters, October 24, 2016 - Lithuania has handed over responsibility for its SAR missions to a trio of Dauphin aircraft. Their exemplary availability has earned them a thumb’s up.
In 2015, the Lithuanian Air Force (LAF) received three Dauphin AS365 N3+ aircraft configured for search and rescue (SAR) operations.
These Dauphins came fully equipped with the latest technologies, including a FLIR camera and radar; dedicated SAR equipment; and a full glass cockpit with 4-axis digital autopilot tailored for SAR missions, which significantly decreases crew workload and supports the safe performance of their demanding missions. LAF’s pilots, operators and technicians subsequently underwent an exhaustive training programme including flight simulation.
Twelve months after the arrival of the first aircraft, near-perfect availability has been achieved.
“Lithuania is one of the first customers to have chosen the HCare Infinite contract,” says Armand Hamparsoumian, Customer Support Manager (CSM) for LAF. “Through this fleet availability programme, Airbus Helicopters offers a performance commitment of at least 80 percent fleet availability. Having achieved 99 percent over one year for the entire LAF fleet, Airbus Helicopters has far exceeded this value, with a usage rate of around 200 flight hours per aircraft per year."
“The quality of Airbus Helicopters’ support has led to a high fleet availability rate of nearly 100 percent over a one-year period,” says Major Voldemaras Kondrotas, contract manager at the Lithuanian Ministry of Defense. “We greatly thank Airbus Helicopters’ team for their solid organisation and efficient coordination, which have enabled us to reach this achievement.”
Through this HCare Infinite contract, the LAF has contracted Airbus Helicopters to guarantee the operational availability of its fleet, including technical support and supply of spare parts, tools and consumables. This enables LAF to focus on line maintenance and their missions.
The contract provides direct access to the Airbus Helicopters parts inventory consigned to the main base in Šiauliai, Lithuania, as well as the Airbus parts-by-the-hour pool – a dedicated high-availability pool located in Les Florides, Marignane, France.
Moreover, engine availability is guaranteed through a special contract with Safran Helicopter Engines by which an engine under loan could be made available within 24 hours in the event of a failure.
In terms of improving maintenance, Airbus Helicopters has placed a technical representative alongside the LAF to work closely with the CSM in Marignane. According to Hamparsoumian, they are a welcome presence, as LAF’s staff is unfamiliar with the Dauphin:
“The tech rep assigned to this customer is in communication with me every day,” says Hamparsoumian. “Aircraft performance is measured on a daily basis with the Air Force teams, and the support process involving the intervention of Airbus experts can be triggered very quickly if need be.”
“I had my doubts one year ago about reaching the availability target, but this one year of operation has shown that the availability commitment has been more than reached," says Colonel Audronis Navickas, Commander of the Lithuanian Air Force.
“We are proud of this efficient collaboration with the teams of the Lithuanian Air Force,” adds Janick Blanc, Director of the Dauphin programme, “because it enables the aircraft to be fully devoted to performing its rescue and surveillance missions on land and at sea in sometimes extreme conditions, day and night, seven days a week.”