Service and Maintenance by Air to Ensure High Availability
The pandemic continues to affect us all as well as our normal business and operations. When we sell Gripen to a customer, the purchase also includes servicing the aircraft at specific intervals. Servicing is normally performed at Saab, Linköping, but, as in the spring when Hungary imposed travel restrictions and we flew their aircraft down to them, we have now devised another special solution. This time we provided on-site assistance in the Czech Republic.
The duty of an air force is to protect its country’s airspace, and it is therefore of the highest priority that fighter aircraft are available around the clock. Aircraft that have been grounded due to, for example, servicing that has not been performed, provide no benefit. Last week, a chartered Saab 2000 aircraft with technicians on board took off from Linköping and headed to Čáslav, the home base of the Czech Gripen fleet. The technicians were tasked with servicing several of the Gripen aircraft in order to ensure their availability and the operational capabilities of the Czech Air Force.
“We were requested to service thirteen of the Czech aircraft,” says Thomas Holmstedt, Contract Manager for Forward Maintenance of Gripen C/D. “Given the circumstances surrounding Covid-19 and the fact that they are not able to perform this type of service or travel abroad, the only real option was for us to go there. If we hadn’t done so, their aircraft would have been grounded and prohibited from flying. We naturally want our customers to have aircraft available, so we figure out alternative solutions.”
One early misty morning in mid-December, the chartered aircraft took off from Linköping with five technicians on board. Their mission was to perform 100-hour and 200-hour services on some of the Czech Republic’s Gripen aircraft, which included inspection of the landing gear and fuselage components.
“The mission in the Czech Republic went well,” says Thomas. “We had a short time in which to service thirteen aircraft, so the schedule was tight, but we managed. Customers really appreciate what we do. This year we have been in Hungary and the Czech Republic a total of four times and, since we were able to solve their problems, neither country has had to ground a single aircraft.”
Unless the situation in the world returns to normal soon, we will have to undertake additional special missions to solve problems and ensure the high availability of Gripen aircraft around the world.