Cessna Aircraft Co. launched a dozen years ago. its first mobile service unit (MSU) to offer emergency repair services to its Citation jet customers whose aircraft broke from their home base or a Citation Service Center. "We wanted to think about how we could serve them more effectively," said Kriya Shortt, senior v-p of customer service for the parent of the Cessna brand, Textron Aviation. "It is really the history of why we came into the company." But over time, the role of MSUs has been expanded.

Since its launch in 2007 of the first MSU in New York, Textron's MSU fleet now has 70 in North America and five in Europe. That fleet grows on average by about five new trucks per year, Shortt said AIN.

"And the response has just been overwhelmingly positive," she said. "So during that 12-year period, we continued to invest in and grow our footprint of mobile support in response to our customers who tell us that it works for them."

What has not changed in that period is the main reason to introduce the trucks, and that is to quickly get Citations and King Airs from customers to work. "I think the mission has remained the same," Shortt said. "In the first place it is about speed to solution and in the first place unplanned [maintenance] is what we see that customer files use the MSU for. "

But Shortt and executives from other OEMs and maintenance suppliers recognized a trend of operators and owners who asked MSUs for certain planned maintenance activities such as tire changes, replacement of major battery loads or light inspections. It is a trend that they expect to continue, if not to grow, because technological advances can make the use of MSUs for scheduled maintenance a fixed value of their menu of services, said one of the executives. "I think this is ultimately the way the industry is going to develop," said Mark Singer, director of mobile services for Signature TechnicAir, AIN.

"I think you'll see that the mobile units are not only available to keep you ready for the mission, but that your plane also generates revenue as it should, but I think you'll eventually even see the manufacturers, and especially the People who are part 135 and who have the ability to write their own inspection programs start to do very small inspections that are very specific, "added Singer. He joined TechnicAir in February 2018 to help launch his MSU business, which has operations in six US cities and three UK airports. In 2019 it plans to add another three MSUs in Europe and another two in the US, he said.

They understand the desire of owners and operators to have planned maintenance performed where they are. It saves them the cost of a repositioning flight to a service center, including fuel and in some cases, to pay a contract crew to steer the plane and carry the cost of hanging a night or two in a hotel. "There is a lot of cost to move an aircraft to a location," says Randy Deal, manager of business development and marketing at TechnicAir. AIN.

The challenge now, they said, is to plan an MSU for such events when their primary task is to respond to AOG events. "I will say that if your house happens to be where an MSU is located, it is not unusual for customers to also request an MSU to do slightly planned work," said Shortt. "But we always recognize that their (MSU & # 39; s) primary mission is to have that customer backed up and run, so sometimes we can organize a planned event to provide an AOG. we are very transparent about it, so our clientele knows that. "

Typically how planned maintenance is done with TechnicAir during an AOG event and maintenance personnel have to wait for a part during the night. "We have let many 135 operators say:" Hey, because you're there, can you do the 30-day check on our portable fire extinguishers? ", Singer said. "Absolutely, we were here, we're not going anywhere because we're waiting for parts, yes, we can do that."

For large events where OEMs and providers have pre-positioned trucks, such as the Super Bowl, customers can usually request scheduled maintenance – within reasonable conditions, because both they and the operator are in the same location for several days; a "chance", Singer said. But "we're not going to do something that requires a lot of tools or something like that, because it's just not the company structure we currently have with our mobile units."

Ray Godon, director of Bombardier Business Aircraft's customer response team, said the Canadian manufacturer of Learjet, Challenger and Global business jets also includes scheduled maintenance with its Mobile Response Team (MRT) trucks, a service launched in March 2014 with the first truck located in the Chicago area. Bombardier now has 30 MRT trucks worldwide, 19 of which are in the US.

"In recent years we have been on the move to grow our services and support infrastructure and we will continue to look for opportunities to further expand and improve our network," said Godon.