Farnborough Air Show

AW’s helo support center promises 24/7 coverage

 - July 19, 2010, 11:08 PM

AgustaWestland is boosting its customer-support capability with the opening of a new fleet operations center. The facility, located close to the Italian helicopter manufacturer’s headquarters near Milan Malpensa International Airport, is staffed and equipped to handle urgent technical questions and spares requirements around the clock. Its most immediate value will be to help larger commercial and government operators involved in critical support missions such as emergency medical services and offshore transportation in the energy sector.

The company’s main goal has been to establish a dedicated team to handle all aspects of resolving aircraft-on-ground (AOG) situations more quickly. The fleet operations center is the next step in AgustaWestland’s long-term plan to expand its customer support and services division, following the creation last July  of a new logistics center in Italy.

The customer-support complex also includes a brand-new 108,000-sq-ft warehouse, fully dedicated to repair and overhaul operations. The logistics center already employs 600 people who concentrate on fleet service support. 

The fleet operations center personnel work in three shifts to provide 24/7 cover; approximately 10 people are on duty at all times. Each shift is led by an AOG supervisor who coordinates the activities of three main desks dedicated to technical expertise, material support and warranty issues.

The technical expertise desk is manned by product-support engineers who can provide information on maintenance procedures, such as inspection criteria and task clarification. They can also cover the following support functions: preparing and approving repair schemes; confirming part numbers and clarifying configuration issues; providing special authorization for ferry flights following specific events; giving health and usage monitoring system support; and issuing “no technical objection” approval for temporary repairs.

Customer-order administrators manning the material support desk operate together with the warranty desk to fulfill spare- parts orders and respond to sales quotation and shipping requests, as well as to check applicability for part numbers, warranty claims and power-by-the-hour service plans. In an AOG situation, spares are shipped within 24 hours; in an “urgent” situation they are shipped within 72 hours.

When an AOG situation cannot be solved locally and additional factory field support in the field is needed, the supervisor can dispatch an on-site team within 24 hours. The responders may be in the form of a mobile maintenance team to carry out repair, or troubleshooting and special- inspection personnel to assist the operator’s own maintenance team.

The new fleet operations center fully interfaces with AgustaWestland’s regional support and service network, which also includes facilities in Philadelphia in the U.S.; São Paulo, Brazil; the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur; and Liege, Belgium. There are also more than 70 AgustaWestland authorized service centers around the world.