Aviation Business News

Top Table Interview: Taking on the responsibility

Leon Kouters, vice president sales and marketing, Fokker Services Group
photo_camera Leon Kouters, vice president sales and marketing, Fokker Services Group

With Fokker Services Group expanding its nose‑to‑tail programmes, Leon Kouters, vice president sales and marketing, tells MRO Management more about this service and the latest airline to sign up.

Could you explain what a nose-to-tail programme entails and what are some of its primary objectives?

A nose-to-tail agreement (NTT) offered by Fokker Services Group is a comprehensive service package that allows a customer to concentrate on their main business activities related to operating their aircraft, while Fokker Services Group takes on the responsibility of ensuring component availability and maintaining these components at optimal reliability levels.

Within an NTT programme, Fokker Services Group takes care of servicing a broad spectrum of components in a customer’s fleet. These components encompass a wide array of critical parts, such as Integrated Drive Generator systems (IDGs), engine accessories, hydraulic actuators, valves, cockpit controls and instruments.

There are several key advantages associated with participating in an NTT programme. Firstly, customers benefit from minimising their investments in inventory, as Fokker Services Group manages the availability and servicing of a comprehensive range of components. This leads to reduced financial commitments related to maintaining a large inventory of spare parts.

Secondly, customers have immediate access to a readily available inventory of components, which is crucial for ensuring minimal downtime and efficient operations of their aircraft fleet.

There’s also dedicated support for Aircraft On Ground (AOG) situations. AOG support ensures rapid response and resolution in the event of critical component failures, minimising the time an aircraft is grounded.

Furthermore, by entrusting Fokker Services Group with the responsibility of component availability and reliability, the customer can focus their efforts and attention on other core business areas without compromising the quality and reliability of their aircraft components.

What types of aircraft are typically included in your NTT programmes?

We have a long history with component availability and maintenance programmes. In fact, this spans four decades and at present encompasses Fokker, CRJ, Dash-8 and, recently, Boeing 737NG aircraft.

As such, we’re proud to announce that AlbaStar – an on-demand flight services provider for tour operators based in Spain – is the launch customer of the B737NG NTT programme.

That sounds exciting; what more can you tell us about the partnership with AlbaStar?

Flying to an average of 160 airports per year, AlbaStar is an independent Spanish operator and has been operating Boeing 737s, mainly from Italy and Spain, since 2010.

We will service a wide range of components of AlbaStar’s fleet of five Boeing 737NGs. This includes IDGs, engine accessories, hydraulic actuators, valves, cockpit controls and instruments.

Engaging in this NTT agreement represents a unique opportunity for AlbaStar to focus on their core business, while ensuring continued competitive operation, as they delegate the responsibilities of component availability and maintenance to Fokker Services Group.

So, component and service quality and reliability is crucial during an NTT, right?

Fokker Services Group is dedicated to upholding the highest standards of reliability for aircraft components with our NTT programme. It is in our best interest to ensure that components remain operational on the aircraft for as long as possible, emphasising our commitment to maximising the longevity of these crucial parts.

A critical aspect of achieving this objective lies in the strategic management of our in-house repair capabilities, carefully balancing and expanding them to optimise the repair process. This strategic expansion gives greater control over both the cost and turnaround time (TAT) associated with component repair. The goal is of course to streamline the repair process and enhance overall operational efficiency.

We currently have more than 50 per cent in-house repair capability for the Boeing B737NG platform. Ultimately, this allows us to maintain outstanding control over costs, turnaround times and reliability.

This article continues after the below picture…

AlbaStar is an independent Spanish operator. Credit: Adobe Stock
What are some of the advantages for aircraft operators in choosing a comprehensive NTT programme rather than individual maintenance and support services?

The distinct advantage lies in engaging with a component availability and maintenance programme, setting it apart from conventional approaches. Airlines and aircraft operators opting for these programmes tailored by Fokker Services Group can anticipate a substantial benefit – the assurance of component availability. By becoming integral to an extensive exchange pool within these programmes, operators significantly reduce the need for substantial investments in components, thereby optimising their financial commitments.

Moreover, Fokker Services Group implements a stocking strategy that further elevates operational efficiency. This involves maintaining a strategic reserve of critical components directly within the customer’s facility, alongside additional stock strategically positioned across key locations in Asia and Europe. This meticulous approach helps to minimise downtime related to stocking needs and to swiftly address component requirements.

A pivotal aspect of this is the close partnership established between Fokker Services Group and the operator. This partnership extends beyond transactional interactions, with a mutual focus on achieving the highest level of reliability for the covered components. The shared objective is to ensure optimal performance and longevity of these critical parts. This relationship aligns the interests of both parties, ultimately leading to a win-win situation where reliability is maximised, and operational efficiency is significantly enhanced.

What network and support infrastructure do you provide to clients who enrol in these programmes?

Fokker Services Group has established a robust global network, strategically positioning warehousing facilities across key regions including the Americas, Europe and Asia. This expansive network underscores our commitment to providing comprehensive services on a global scale. These strategically located facilities are vital in enabling us to efficiently serve a diverse clientele.

Central to our success is the exceptional expertise of our workforce in aircraft design, bringing unparalleled skills and knowledge to the forefront. This expertise forms the bedrock of our operations, allowing us to offer specialised services and tailored solutions that meet the unique needs of our clients.

Moreover, our facilities in Europe and Asia have been carefully chosen to optimise proximity to key industry hubs, facilitating swift and efficient service provision. This strategic positioning ensures that our customers have easy access to our services, bolstering their operational capabilities.

We’re also committed to maintaining an outstanding stock availability in close proximity to our customers’ premises. This ensures that critical components are readily accessible, minimising delays and downtime in their operations. Utilising the latest advancements in technology, such as warehouse automation, further amplifies our efficiency and accuracy in managing inventory and fulfilling customer needs.

Can you tell us a little more about being flexible to meet the needs of clients?

We spend a lot of time discussing requirements with each operator to ensure we can tailor the NTT programme to their specific needs. Every operator is unique, and we can adjust the programme according to their set of requirements and what’s most important to them.

As an independent organisation with a high level of engineering expertise at our core and a proven track record in running NTT programmes, along with extensive in-house repair capabilities, we combine repair management, parts availability, reliability management and on-site stock services, providing fully bespoke service options to meet each operator’s individual support needs.

This advertorial feature was first published in MRO Management – October 2023. To read the magazine in full, click here.

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