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Former OCCAR-EA A400M Logistics Support Officer advocates joined up ageing aircraft maintenance

Budgetary reviews and budgetary cuts have forced militaries around the globe to rethink their procurement strategies. States have, for many years, procured and operated expensive defence equipment in common. Only last month the UK and France signed a partnership treaty to coordinate joint aircraft carriers to ensure that a British or French vessel is always available. Amongst other positives, the new Combined Joint Expeditionary Force training will enable British and French troops to be deployed on operations together. Remaining within the aviation spectrum, Baudouin Heuninckx, Former A400M Logistics Support Officer OCCAR-EA and current Lecturer at University of Nottingham, has long been eulogising about the benefits of interoperability, particularly in ensuring cost effective legacy fleet sustainment and airworthiness.

In a presentation (www.ageingaircraftconf.com) given at Defence IQ’s Military Aviation Repair and Maintenance forum, Heuninckx outlined benefits ranging from shared development costs, the advantages of economies of scale during production, greater political bonds within standardisation and alliances and the technology transfer and shared workload for the defence industry. As Heuninckx explained, for many forces, collaborative procurement is the “only way to procure major defence equipment and influence its design!”

In January 2011 in London, the Former A400M Logistics Support Officer will be briefing the aviation community again at Ageing Aircraft 2011 (www.ageingaircraftconf.com) on the challenges and possibilities of multinational cooperation for maintenance of operational ageing aircraft. Some models, which have already been in service for more than 40 years, will need to be retained for another two decades or longer, often serving in roles and in theatres very different from the original purpose that they were designed to facilitate. What are the possible forms of multinational cooperation? Have the UK and France set a precedent that can be adopted in the maintenance of ageing aircraft as well as aircraft carriers? Aircraft maintainability is crucial and keeping legacy craft airworthy is vital as the struggle continues between an effective, operational air fleet and the challenges of budgetary restrictions and obsolescence.

Baudouin Heuninckx’s presentation on “Collaborative Procurement and Through-Life Management” is available in full at the Download Centre at www.ageingaircraftconf.com as is an outline of his forthcoming briefing at the Ageing Aircraft 2011 forum. A cost effective, fully airworthy and operationally ready legacy fleet is the golden rainbow for a plethora of Air Forces around the globe but perhaps the solution for the many lies in the many and perhaps collaboration is the way forward to create joint forces which are greater than the sums of their respective parts.

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