1. Home
  3. Hourly cost maintenance programs

Hourly cost maintenance programs


Here’s what’s available from OEMs for your maintenance needs.

By Owen Davies
Contributing Writer

Dassault’s FalconCare maintenance programs, rolled out in 2005, offer 3 tiers of coverage and a mix-and-match option for customers with specific needs.

This is the first installment of a 3-part article in which we explore the nature of hourly cost maintenance programs (HCMPs) and their benefits for business aircraft operators. Then we will look at the service contracts available from several original equipment manufacturers (OEMs).

HCMPs have been around for some time now. Arguably, they originated in the 1980s, when Rolls-Royce introduced the Power-by-the-Hour program for its Viper engines.

In the late 1990s, manufacturers began to offer them for the airframe, engines, or both. By the early teens, these had grown into “nose-to-tail” programs that covered almost everything above the tires. Avionics respond poorly to wrenching, and so were – and generally are – left to the HCMP.

In 2023, HCMPs have become an industry standard. According to one estimate, something over 90% of the bizjet fleet is signed up for them.

With good reason

Eric Mitchelson is director of aviation at MPW Industrial Services in Hebron OH, where he is responsible for a Cessna Citation Longitude and a CJ3+. (See operator profile, Pro Pilot Oct 2022, p 28.) He recaps MPW’s experience with hourly cost maintenance. “The Longitude is too new to have any reliable statistics about maintenance costs,” he says, “but I can tell you about the Sovereign we had for 8 years.” Mitchelson used Cessna’s maintenance program for the jet’s airframe, and Pratt & Whitney’s for the engines.

“We broke even on the Sovereign contract, but it had the advantage of regular payments,” Mitchelson adds. “For the Longitude, squawks are covered under the program the same as any other maintenance. That matters if you have to replace something like a windshield, which would cost about $85,000 if not covered by a maintenance contract.”

Yet the greatest benefit is not the predictable budget. “Buyers like to see that the airplane has been maintained by the company that built it. Anyone else may just have thrown parts at a problem and not really fixed it. They will demand either that you have the manufacturer bring it up to date or cut the price by the amount that would cost.” This difference can be up to 15% of the sale price.

However, MPW does not always sign up for an HCMP. “Parts for the CJ3 are so cheap, and the airplane is so reliable, that we could wind up paying more under a maintenance contract,” Mitchelson explains.

At Park City Aviators in Heber UT, they have found another course. (See operator profile, Pro Pilot Sep 2022, p 26.) PC Aviators technicians carry out routine work using the manufacturer’s parts, while major inspections and overhauls are covered by an hourly-cost program. However, unscheduled issues are paid for as they come up, and, as Chief Pilot Everett Clark notes, that can pinch.

“There could be 3 different contracts on an aircraft, maybe more,” says Clark. “In general, airframes are maintained by the manufacturer, engines by their builder, and avionics by the OEM. This is the most efficient way to deal with maintenance, so it saves us a lot of money.”

Dassault Falcon

Dassault first offered an HCMP in 2005. “It has been a dynamic program, evolving with input from our customer Operator Advisory Board,” says VP Customer Service John Loh.

Dassault offers its FalconCare program in 3 tiers – Essential, Elite, and Select. All 3 cover parts for scheduled and unscheduled maintenance for all airframe systems, including the cabin. They also bring personal service by a FalconCare account manager dedicated to the individual customer’s aircraft. If the operators need less work than expected, they receive a rebate at the end of the contract equal to 65% of the savings.

Other items are available in some programs but are options or unavailable in others. The “Value-Add” package covers consumables, including tires, service bulletins, and a maintenance tracking system. An “Options” package may include AOG coverage, documentation, brakes, C-Check, and landing gear overhaul. And the “Premium Pack” covers the exchange of batteries and wheels, and fuel contamination prevention.

The Essential program is basic without being inadequate. It does include the Premium Pack and most of the Options package. However, AOG service is unavailable, and documentation really is optional. Aircraft eligible for the Essential plan include the EASy type Falcon 900s, and the 2000 non-EASy type.

The Elite program offers all the standard features, the Premium Pack, plus AOG service by a company GoTeam. However, its big advantage is coverage of labor costs, which can add up fast. Only EASy type aircraft are covered.

The Select program is the dim sum breakfast of maintenance. Only parts for scheduled and unscheduled maintenance, the Value-Add package, and the end-of-contract efficiency bonus are standard. Customers can take or leave coverage of labor costs, AOG service and the other official options, and the Premium Pack items. All 3 airplanes qualify for Select coverage, but labor coverage is available only for EASy type aircraft.

All these programs seem to offer  a benefit beyond predictable budgets. Dassault calculates that FalconCare coverage adds $100,000/year of extra resale value to a 2000EX or 900EX 5 years old or less. Through 12 years, the average is an extra $600,000, depending on the time since overhaul. For a 7X, the gain is $100,000/year, stabilizing after year 8.

Gulfstream has junked standard maintenance programs. Instead, each is pieced together from a huge variety of options, not all concerned with maintenance.


Gulfstream launched its first HCMP in 2006. It was called Budget+ and covered the cost of parts for G100, G150, and G200 aircraft. Five years later, it was replaced by PlaneParts, which supported models from the G150 to the G650. Then something unusual happened: standard maintenance contracts disappeared.

“Over the years, Gulfstream recognized that customers could benefit from a predictable maintenance program that provides services beyond just parts,” explains VP Customer Service Derek Zimmerman.

“As a result, Gulfstream launched its Aircraft Ownership Service (AOS) program in 2018. This is not an HCMP, but, through AOS, customers have access to labor, parts, subscriptions, and more than 2 dozen other optional services.

If that sounds a bit vague, it is because almost nothing is standard about Gulfstream’s maintenance contracts. The essentials include fixed monthly budgets, access to the company’s worldwide service center network, and the help of a dedicated AOS program manager to make sure planning and scheduling run seamlessly.

Most contracts run for 5 years, but it varies according to the customer’s needs. At the end, Gulfstream returns the full price of any unused service.

Beyond that, AOS programs offer coverage of parts, labor, and a variety of subscription services, but specific offerings differ from one aircraft model to the next. There is also such a dizzying variety of options that no 2 contracts are identical.

Complicated as it all seems, it has worked out well for Gulfstream and its customers. Over the past 5 years, nearly 15% of the 3000-strong Gulfstream fleet has been signed up for AOS coverage.

Textron Aviation’s PowerAdvantage program, launched in 2016 for Beechcraft King Airs and Cessna Caravans, specializes in P&W PT-6A series powerplants.

Textron Aviation: Cessna, Beechcraft and Hawker

If there is anyone who knows about maintenance programs for Textron Aviation’s airplanes, it’s Senior VP Parts and Programs Kriya Shortt. She began her career as a salesperson for the company’s maintenance programs and worked her way up.

“Cessna was one of the first companies to bring maintenance programs to market,” she says. “In the 1990s, they were the pioneers. Customers asked for a way to even out their maintenance costs, and Cessna provided it.”

These days, Textron offers 6 different programs for Cessna, Beechcraft, and Hawker business aircraft. They are all grouped under the ProAdvantage brand. ProParts covers service parts for the airframe and avionics. Parts are discounted 15% under the program.

Price increases are limited to changes in the CPI. ProTech covers labor for maintenance under the ProParts program. PowerAdvantage covers parts for Honeywell and Pratt & Whitney engines. Add labor coverage, and the program becomes PowerAdvantage+. Operators whose aircraft carry an APU can get coverage under the AuxAdvantage program. Beechcraft turboprops are also supported by the ProPropeller maintenance program. Finally, TapAdvantage Blue covers Beechcraft Premier Jets built between 2001 and 2012. It was developed with Williams International, which supplied the FJ44-2A engines for the type.

Programs bought when the plane is new run for 5 years or 3000 flight hours of the aircraft’s life. Renewals and new programs for buyers of used aircraft not previously covered last 3 years or 1800 hours.

One cost not covered by any of these programs is transportation. Find yourself AOG in Hyderabad, India, and your company may have to pay the freight. However, one of more than 70 Mobile Service Units will get there fast to replace anything from tires to engines.

More than 3000 Cessna and Beechcraft customers have signed up for the company’s ProAdvantage programs since they were introduced, and Kriya Shortt has a good idea why, explaining that Textron aircraft operators save on average half the cost of as-needed maintenance.

Leonardo’s All Inclusive Plan is the most basic of 4, each successive plan including parts and labor for more of the aircraft until the powertrain, APU, rotors and associated parts, and airframe are all covered.

Leonardo Helicopters

Leonardo offers an array of service options. They all provide repair, overhaul, replacement and/or exchange of parts with a unit price over €200 or $250.

They all omit paint, upholstery, carpets, and interior panels, as well as transportation costs and the cost of tools and ground support equipment. None covers avionics, except for the Honeywell Primus Epic system in the AW139.

The All Inclusive Plan covers parts, as described above. Labor is covered for maintenance at approved Leonardo Helicopters service centers. However, the plan excludes the engine, engine accessories, APU, and transportation charges.

The Operational Support Plan adds coverage of labor for base maintenance at a Leonardo Helicopters service center. Omissions mirror those of the All Inclusive Plan.

Fewer items are excluded from the Full Components Plan. Some of the powertrain appears to be covered, although the engine and engine accessories, the APU, and the rotors and associated components are not.

The Essential Plan does cover the main, intermediate, and tail rotor gearboxes; the main and tail servos; the swashplate assembly; the main and tail rotor blades and rotor hub assemblies; hydraulic pumps; starter generators; and the main and nose landing gear. Labor, transportation charges, tools, and ground support equipment are excluded.

AgustaForYou covers parts for the airframe and avionics, transportation service, and items with a unit price lower than €200 or $250. Service plans are available for the AW109 GrandNew, AW169, and AW139 models. They last for 5 years after purchase of a new helicopter, or for a set number of flight hours tailored to the customer’s needs.

This is the first article of a 3-part series. In future editions, we’ll cover more aircraft OEMs and MRO providers.

OwenOwen Davies is a veteran freelance writer specializing in technology. He has been a futurist at Forecasting Inter-national and TechCast Global.