In 2006, Boeing partnered with Vector Aerospace (formerly, the UK MOD Defence Aviation and Repair Agency) to capitalize on local resources while infusing Boeing Programme Management, Engineering and Lean expertise into UK Chinook operations to improve the helicopter fleet’s readiness while reducing costs.
The Chinook Through Life Customer Support (TLCS) programme provides heavy maintenance, engineering technical support, supply chain management including spares forecasting and procurement, aircraft and component repairs, modification services and publications management for the UK’s fleet of 46 Mk2/2A/3 Chinook helicopters.
In October 2007, Boeing assumed full supply chain responsibility for the UK Chinooks and, in cooperation with the MOD, has considerably increased the availability of the current fleet whilst simultaneously incorporating numerous fleet-wide capability upgrades and aircraft repairs.
Work on the TLCS programme is conducted in four UK locations: Vector Fleetlands, Vector Almondbank, RAF Odiham air base, and RNAS Yeovilton, and provides depot maintenance and logistical parts support on-site. A Contractor-On-Deployed-Operations (CONDO) maintenance and technical support team has been deployed to Afghanistan since March 2009 and this has also improved aircraft availability at the front-line through reductions in maintenance and repair turn-around times.
The programme is founded on a culture of Continuous Improvement which extends across the broader Boeing, its key suppliers and the MoD Customer. The Boeing UK team also leverages the resources and capabilities of the Boeing Company worldwide to deliver innovative solutions and cost savings to the UK MoD.
The MOD is acquiring 14 Chinook MK6 helicopters to add to its existing fleet of 46 aircraft. The new Chinooks feature a suite of updated systems including a digital Automatic Flight Control System which will provide improved handling qualities and aircraft stability, offering reduced workload for crews. The full fleet of Chinook MK6 should be fully operational by early 2017. The existing fleet of 46 aircraft is undergoing modifications by a joint Boeing and industry team to develop a new digital cockpit solution. The RAF has operated Chinooks since 1980.