The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has signed a $15 million HCare Infinite full-availability support solution with Airbus Helicopters. The contract, initially covering two years with the option to extend up to 10, provides the entire spectrum of support needs for NASA's fleet of three H135 helicopters, which will begin deliveries later this month.
“With this new HCare contract, we are relying on Airbus' manufacturer expertise for the comprehensive management of all support and service needs. The OEM experience and knowledge will provide support as we transition from an ageing aircraft fleet into the advanced H135 helicopter,” comments David Ramsey, chief of flight operations at NASA Kennedy Space Center (KSC). “The OEM level of expertise will ensure that the transition of aircraft is a smooth and safe process and will allow KSC flight operations to focus its attention on supporting those NASA programmes and partners that are advancing science, technology, aeronautics and space exploration.”
Airbus will ensure operational availability by managing all of NASA's scheduled and unscheduled maintenance, as well as spare parts. In addition, Airbus will be responsible for the helicopter flight operations by stationing two pilots, two mechanics and one programme manager at KSC in Florida.
NASA will operate its new fleet of H135 helicopters, purchased as part of a fleet renewal initiative, at Cape Canaveral for a variety of missions including security around rocket launches, emergency medical services and qualified personnel transport.
“Our customers' success lies in their ability to ensure aircraft are ready to take off the second they need them, and our HCare support solutions provide the guarantee that we have taken care of everything to ensure their full fleet availability,” explains Anthony Baker, vice president of customer support and services at Airbus Helicopters. “Our entire team is extremely proud to support the future of space exploration by providing both new helicopters and full support services to NASA.”
HCare Infinite is Airbus' most comprehensive level of customer support and requires the company to guarantee the customer's full fleet operational availability, including maintenance, technical support and the supply of spare parts, tools and consumables. Airbus Helicopters' range of HCare material management services starts out with Easy (on-request catalogue services) and Smart (four by-the-hour options), before progressively building up to Infinite (full availability commitments).
Airbus is a leading supplier of helicopters in the United States, with a market share of close to 65 per cent and a presence dating back 50 years. A team of more than 750 employees operates local production and completion facilities for the H125 and UH-72 Lakota aircraft and provides world-class training, aftermarket support and technical assistance for the North American regional in-service fleet of nearly 3,100 helicopters.