Military and Strategic Journal
Issued by the Directorate of Morale Guidance at the General Command of the Armed Forces
United Arab Emirates
Founded in August 1971

2023-09-01

Performance Based Logistics New Era in Defence Services: Boeing’s Sjogren

Performance-based logistics (PBL) are revolutionising defence platforms’ sustainment. Such strategies have a proven track record that increases aircraft availability, maximises mission readiness, and reduces the life-cycle cost of operating defence aircraft. PBL contracts ensure that defence customers have the necessary resources and support readily available for efficient and sustainable operations.
 
By: Sakha Pramod
 
In an exclusive interview with Nation Shield, Torbjorn (Turbo) Sjogren, Senior Vice President and General Manager Government Services at Boeing, emphasised that PBL was the future of defence aircraft maintenance and was becoming increasingly popular with the military in different parts of the world, including the Middle East. 
 
What are the benefits of Performance Based Logistics for defence customers?
Performance-Based Logistics is a contract that ensures an agreed-to level of mission readiness of defence fleets. Parts and resources are readily available whenever the customer needs them which brings operational efficiencies and decreases life-cycle costs. 
PBL is a comprehensive arrangement between an original equipment manufacturer like Boeing and a defence customer that bundles a whole series of maintenance activities together for a period of time. We, as a manufacturer, bundle the important pieces together, such as parts, engineering, maintenance, technical documentation and on-site support. With such contracts, Boeing has a long-term commitment to its customers, which allows us to ensure that fleet readiness goes up and costs come down. 
 
For this purpose, we use a lot of digital tools and data analytics to predict the challenges that defence platforms might face. This allows us to proactively invest in parts or replacements, which keeps the platform ready and drives down costs and emissions.
 
What are the challenges of implementing PBL?
PBL requires a strong relationship between the customer and Boeing. It’s a long-term commitment. This is not always the case with traditional maintenance contracts, where customers may buy parts and services from different providers.
When you have a disaggregated approach, customers make orders for parts or maintenance on a transactional basis. This can lead to inefficiencies and higher costs. With PBL, a manufacturer like Boeing and a customer have a long-term commitment which allows for a more comprehensive and cost-effective approach. This is a win-win partnership.
We are seeing a lot of interest in PBL solutions in the Middle East.
 
Can you share some examples of successful PBL implementations in the defence sector, particularly in the Middle East, and how they have positively impacted aircraft availability and mission readiness?
In the Middle East, specifically in the United Arab Emirates, we support Boeing Apache helicopters in a performance-based logistics framework. As we go to the Dubai Air show later this year, we will most likely be meeting a number of our customers and talking about other opportunities.
 
One of the biggest PBL contracts we have worldwide is for the C-17 Globemaster sustainment. Qatar, UAE and Kuwait also operate the C-17, including for very impactful humanitarian missions. We have been offering PBL for many years, and we keep maintaining high mission-capability rates and continuously improve affordability of the C-17 fleet in various parts of the world, including the Middle East.
We have PBL programmes for other aircraft as well, not just the Apache or the C-17. 
 
In Italy, we have the KC-767 tanker PBL programme that includes maintenance, parts, engineering and training. Boeing has provided integrated fleet support for the Italian Air Force’s KC-767A refuelling tankers since 2011. The sustainment and training that Boeing has provided under this PBL contract have enabled high utilisation, including more than 9,000 missions, over 38,000 flight hours, and more than 134 million pounds of fuel offloaded. On average, Italian Air Force’s KC-767A tankers operate at twice the annual utilisation rate per aircraft of legacy military tankers.
 
In Canada, we have been performing under a 20-year PBL contract for the Royal Canadian Air Force Chinook helicopter fleet since 2013. 
We execute PBL programmes for various aircraft in the Far East, the UK and other European countries.
 
How do PBL agreements differ from traditional contracts based on payment for specific parts and services?
Under a traditional model, customers manage the different pieces that go into the readiness of an aircraft independently. They may buy parts and services separately, and they may even do their own maintenance. This can be a complex process, and it can be difficult to ensure that all the pieces are working smoothly together.
 
The PBL concept ensures that all of the pieces get bundled and the customer looks to one player like Boeing to ensure that fleet readiness is kept up. A PBL contract brings together a range of activities, including maintenance, repair, overhaul (MRO), supply chain management, engineering, technical publications, and flight and maintenance training. By synergizing all services and agreeing on a target fleet readiness level, the customer is able to leverage predictable and sustainable mission execution. We ensure that the aircraft is always available when needed. 
 
What is the future of PBL in the Middle East?
I foresee an exciting future! We expect that the demand for aftermarket services in the Middle East from defence customers will be very high over the next decade. 
We are seeing a significant interest in ensuring readiness levels from our customers in the Middle East. 
 
What advice would you give to defence customers who are considering implementing PBL?
The biggest thing I would say is talking to the original equipment manufacturer and other players and understanding the value drivers. If a customer in the Middle East is interested in ensuring the readiness of fleet, we can refer them to our customers in Canada, the UK, Italy, and the U.S. already benefitting from performance-based logistics solutions. We have great customer contact points that can provide substance to our performance. 
 
In terms of cost-effectiveness, how do PBL agreements compare to traditional support models over the lifecycle of defence aircraft?
Take the C-17 fleet with over 270 transport aircraft worldwide. One way we have increased its affordability through PBL is by reducing fuel consumption and operational costs.
 
In our PBL package for the C-17, we have introduced a digital tool called Aircraft Data Reasoner (ADR). ADR has already yielded significant results, with over 4.5 million pounds of fuel saved on the C-17 fleet globally.
Our work on bundling and digital analytics is focused on driving readiness up, lowering life-cycle costs, and improving operational efficiency and sustainability credentials.
 
How does the CH-47 Chinook Maintenance Training Device enhance maintenance capabilities and operational readiness for the Chinook fleet in Germany?
Germany has committed to acquiring 60 Chinook helicopters.
One of the aspects we haven’t talked about in terms of mission readiness is maintenance training. By training technicians to do maintenance more efficiently, we can avoid unnecessary repairs and keep aircraft in service longer.
 
For instance, we also transported a Chinook airframe from the Netherlands to Germany to help our customer gain an advanced understanding of maintenance on their new platform - the Chinook. Its new home is a hangar of training company AERO-Bildung, a member of Boeing’s Chinook Deutschland industry team. As you can see, in our PBL arrangements we prioritise partnerships with local industry, leveraging their expertise.
This holistic approach showcases our commitment to mission readiness and local collaboration across the board.
 

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