Pay now, smile later

Hourly maintenance plans can give you peace of mind and a more predictable budget.

Hourly maintenance plans for airframes, engines, and avionics have become a regular and often expected part of aircraft ownership. In exchange for a fee paid for each operating hour (and sometimes fixed fees as well), plan providers agree to cover certain or all scheduled and unscheduled maintenance, thereby bringing cost and performance surety to operations.

Some leasing companies and other aircraft financers now require these plans as a tool to protect asset value, and the market applies resale valuation penalties—sometimes into the millions of dollars—to aircraft that aren’t on a plan. For example, using Aircraft Bluebook Price Digest data, GE Aviation claims that Bombardier Challenger 604s and 605s enrolled in its OnPoint CF34 engine-maintenance plan are worth up to $2 million more at engine midlife.

The maintenance plans seem to be getting more flexible, covering more items and for longer durations as components become more reliable. Engine programs remain the most popular and are the easiest to quantify in terms of aircraft valuation, but parts, labor, and airframe offerings also are catching on.

Here’s a look at some of the best-known programs from equipment makers and independent providers:

GE Aviation
GE offers OnPoint coverage for CF34 engines on Bombardier Challenger 600 series, CFM56 engines on the Boeing Business Jet, and H80 turboprop engines. OnPoint focuses on engine management, aircraft availability, and off-aircraft support. The program also covers technician training and provides updates to technical publications. GE has established a global service network with 50 locations, and customers may also opt for a network provider of their choice. The program covers all aspects of engine repair and overhaul, including life-limited parts, loaner engines, transportation, line maintenance, and some labor. OnPoint is available for new and used aircraft with no buy-in, transfer, or exit fees.

GE Honda Aero Engines’ Engine Maintenance Care program allows HondaJet owners to get coverage for their HF120 engines straight away via a network of authorized service providers. A comprehensive version of the program covers line maintenance inspections and repairs, scheduled and unscheduled engine-shop visits, replacement of life-limited parts, and incorporation of alert service bulletins. A more spartan option excludes transportation, labor, and life-limited parts. Both variants are transferable.

Engine and components manufacturer Honeywell launched one of the industry’s earliest hourly programs—MSP, for maintenance service plan, back in 1976. MSP is rated for its impact on aircraft appreciation in the Aircraft Bluebook Price Digest.

Honeywell has made many enhancements to the program and over the past decade has launched MSP Gold, which offers optional coverage for road-trip costs anywhere in the world when an aircraft is grounded for maintenance. It also insures against foreign-object debris (FOD) damage—ingestion of debris into the engines—and covers parts that are found during the FOD repair to need replacement because of normal wear and tear. Honeywell engines that can be covered under MSP include the series TFE, HTF, CFE, ALF, and TPE. The company’s auxiliary power units can also be covered.

Jet Support Services Inc.
JSSI’s engine-maintenance programs all allow buy-ins based on engine hours and cycle times (number of takeoffs and landings). The company also provides a deferred buy-in option. Advisors are assigned to each client to assist with procurement of service and parts. The company offers five levels of service:

  • Platinum, designed for owners and operators of select makes and models of large-cabin aircraft, provides comprehensive coverage for engine removal, shipping, and replacement. “Coverage for scheduled repair and replacement of life-limited parts, as well as routine inspections, may also be added,” according to JSSI.
  • Premium, available for most business aircraft engines, covers scheduled and unscheduled events, as well as life-limited components. Options include coverage for removal and replacement of engines, off-site logistical support, shipping, and parts and labor for routine inspections.
  • Select covers scheduled and unscheduled maintenance, including premature failure of life-limited components. It does not, however, cover scheduled replacement of such components, and that exclusion results in lower hourly fees.
  • Unscheduled covers all unforeseen maintenance expenses in exchange for one annual payment, with the amount based on utilization.
  • Low Utilization Inspection is exclusively for owners and operators of the Embraer Phenom 100 with Pratt & Whitney Canada PW617F engines. It covers low-utilization inspections (LUIs), engine compressor washes, and corrosion.

JSSI offers optional coverage for labor associated with removal and replacement of engines in connection with a covered event; shipping charges on components and engines; off-site AOG logistical support; labor for routine inspections; LUIs for P&WC series 300, 500, and 600 series engines; and the cost of supplemental lift when rental engines are unavailable. The company also provides “tip-to-tail” aircraft coverage programs as well as airframe-only plans.

Pratt & Whitney Canada
P&WC provides plans for all of its engines, including the ubiquitous PT6s that power turboprops such as the Beechcraft King Air and Pilatus PC-12. The company’s PT6Smart programs offer services for operators of used aircraft with PT6A engines. PT6Smart comprises four programs, from engine exchanges—tailored for imminent overhaul or low utilization—to the PT6A-114A upgrade and extended warranty. With some services, no additional charge applies for expired low-cycle fatigue parts, parts not made by P&WC, corrosion, sulphidation, or foreign-object damage.

P&WC’s Eagle Service Plan offers five levels of coverage:

  • Silver Lite covers scheduled and required overhauls/refurbishment, inspections, and service bulletins as well as unscheduled repairs, labor, parts (except life-limited ones), factory engine accessories, rental engines, and engine trend-monitoring analysis.
  • Silver adds life-limited parts.
  • Gold Lite adds line removal/access labor, including the cost of a mobile repair team for unscheduled aircraft-on-ground events, engine freight, and engine accessories and parts.
  • Gold covers everything in Silver and Gold Lite.
  • Platinum provides more coverage for engines on the Falcon 2000 and 7X, including enhanced engine trending and performance analysis, low-utilization inspections, parts and labor for routine inspections, and corrosion repair.

The Rolls-Royce CorporateCare program covers its engines on the Gulfstream G650, G550, G450, G350, GV, and GIV; Bombardier’s Global series; Embraer Legacy 650 and 600s; and the Cessna Citation X and X+. Like most other plans, CorporateCare is fully transferable with the aircraft, thereby increasing its residual value. The program covers scheduled and unscheduled maintenance, training for one technician, and engine trend monitoring. It keeps you flying by also covering temporary installation of a leased engine while yours is out for service.

Williams International
Engine-maker Williams is offering an expanded version of its Total Assurance Program (TAP) for maintenance called TAP Blue. Williams engines power the full line of Cessna Citation CJs/M2s and Beechcraft Premier light jets. Under the new program, Williams will cover “virtually every natural and unnatural event” that might befall its FJ33 and FJ44 engines, including damage from lightning, hail, or ingestion of birds or FOD. Another new coverage item is all service bulletins, not just mandatory ones. The program offers express overhauls and free online maintenance manuals.

Williams is providing incentives through the end of the year for existing customers to upgrade to TAP Blue and for new customers to sign up. TAP can be rolled into Textron Aviation’s ProAdvantage maintenance programs and any Textron-owned Citation service center or any shop authorized by Williams can perform TAP-covered maintenance.

Aircraft manufacturers offer their own hourly plans, either in cooperation with engine and avionics manufacturers,or as add-ons to those companies’ plans:

Bombardier launched its Smart Parts hourly airframe maintenance parts program in 1986. Over the years, the program has grown, with companion offerings added, to include parts and labor on select Learjets, Challengers, and Globals; and Smart Parts can be expanded to cover cabin systems. The plan provides long-term price guarantees, additional airframe system component coverage, and labor on scheduled airframe inspections for customers who use Bombardier-owned service centers or select authorized centers.

Dassault Falcon
Some manufacturers now allow in-service aircraft to join plans. Dassault Falcon owners, for example, can sign up for that company’s FalconCare program from the first heavy maintenance check, called a “C Check,” and use it at any of the airframer’s authorized service centers. The program includes subscriptions to Dassault’s computerized aircraft maintenance program (Camp) but does not cover engines or auxiliary power units. If you sell your aircraft, you can transfer the program to its new owners without a fee.

FalconCare includes all labor, scheduled and unscheduled events, and service bulletins. Three guaranteed rate levels are available—per flight hour, per flight cycle, and per month.

Embraer is a relative newcomer to corporate aviation, but it wasted no time setting up an hourly maintenance plan for its owners, initially with the Total Legacy Care program and then in 2008 with Embraer Executive Care (EEC), which covers all of its aircraft, including the Phenom line of light jets, for five years. Today, over 400 aircraft are enrolled in EEC, the majority being Phenom 100s and 300s.

EEC complements warranties by covering unexpected costs associated with scheduled and unscheduled maintenance, rescue teams, wear and tear, and the exchange, repair, and transport of parts such as tires, brakes, and batteries. Participants in the program—who receive discounts on parts, repair management, and logistics—pay a fixed monthly fee plus a charge based on hours flown.

Embraer offers three levels of service:

  • EEC Standard covers freight costs, aircraft components such as avionics and auxiliary power units, tires, and brakes for scheduled and unscheduled maintenance.
  • EEC Intermediate is currently available for the Legacy 600, Legacy 650, and Lineage 1000E and covers labor and heavy maintenance plus all the options available under EEC Standard.
  • EEC Enhanced provides the coverage available under EEC Standard as well as labor for maintenance and mobile recovery services to help with unexpected events at remote locations.

For Phenom engine maintenance, Embraer offers the EEC Engine Add-On option. Owners of the company’s other jets work directly with the engine manufacturers—Honeywell for the Legacy 500, Rolls-Royce for the Legacy 600/650, and GE for the Lineage 1000E.

Gulfstream offers PlaneParts for its in-production and most of its out-of-production aircraft, including the GV, GIV, G200, and G100. During the term of an operator’s warranty, PlaneParts provides replacement components for parts removed for life limit or wear in exchange for monthly payments based on the flying hours of the aircraft. After the warranty period, PlaneParts extends coverage for most items that need to be replaced due to unscheduled events or mandatory service bulletins.
Upon entry into service of the G650ER/G650, G550, G450, G280, and G150, PlaneParts offers optional coverage for some systems installed during final-phase manufacturing. These include water and waste, entertainment and in-flight information, Broad Band Multi-Link internet, Gulfstream’s Enhanced Vision System II avionics, in-flight phones, and satellite television.

Textron Aviation
Textron is starting to fold Hawker and Beechcraft models into its long-standing Cessna plans, such as ProAdvantage, ProParts, and ProTech. The additional models covered include the Hawker 750, 800, 850, 900, and 400XP/XPR. King Airs became eligible for the program in 2015.

The plan covers airframe parts as well as engines, APUs, avionics, wheels, brakes, motors, actuators, gauges, and light bulbs. ProTech locks in labor costs during the contract period. ProAdvantage customers can also opt for ProManagement, which includes maintenance, support, and aircraft management. Textron’s cooperative engine coverage plans with Pratt & Whitney Canada are known as PowerAdvantage+ and are available for such popular models as the Cessna Citations Mustang, Bravo, V, Ultra, Encore, Encore+, Excel, XLS, XLS+, Sovereign, Sovereign+, and Latitude. Textron’s programs with Williams International are known as TapAdvantage Blue and cover the Citation CJ series and the Beech Premier IA.