As OEMs sought to expand aircraft deliveries to Business and General Aviation (B&GA) during the early ’80s, they encountered two hurdles. One was the perceived, if not real, inability of certain engines to achieve their published maintenance intervals, thereby increasing operating costs. The other was operator perception that certain airframes and engines were more expensive to maintain than advertised.
To address both concerns, numerous OEMs modified offerings already available to the airlines, and Hourly Cost Maintenance Programs (HCMP) were born. Initially viewed as expensive, the idea of “guaranteed operating costs” soon was embraced by B&GA operators. And once lenders and lessors began relying on their value to securitize their assets, HCMP coverage became an industry staple.
Today, aircraft owners routinely experience enhanced value when their Program-enrolled aircraft is sold. In fact, not enrolling some models on HCMP may result in a valuation reduction to the aircraft, since the majority of certain models are so enrolled. However, some new and used aircraft buyers may not consider that HCMP offers benefits over and above the value increase to the aircraft. These are quantifiable and can provide value directly to the owner. For example:
- Additional Coverage While Under Warranty – Certain “related expenses” are not covered by warranty, such as the cost for shipping the affected component to the maintenance facility, shipping a rental component to the aircraft, installing the component, the cost of the rental component during the repair period, removing the rental part once the original component has been repaired, return shipping for the rental, shipping cost to the maintenance facility for the original component, and logistical support associated with these tasks – including the cost to transport and house personnel at an unscheduled maintenance event site. That is not to say the warranty is not valuable, but its coverage often is limited to the cost of repairing the affected component.
- Exposure at Resale – Depending on market conditions, an owner may choose to pay to enroll an uncovered aircraft on HCMP rather than having to discount its sale price in excess of that enrollment fee. While incurring the expense at the time of sale, they have enjoyed none of the HCMP coverage benefits.
- Days on Market – Detailed analytics from resale organizations show that an in-service aircraft will take longer to sell absent HCMP coverage. This could mean a substantial loss in value as aircraft are depreciating assets.
- Rental Component Expense – Many owners fail to account for the true cost of rental components, the potential difference in their travel experience when chartering aircraft, the total cost of charters during their asset’s downtime, and storage as well as other fees for their grounded aircraft.
- Freight and Shipping Charges – The cost to ship “Aircraft on Ground” parts, and the freight charges and logistical challenges to transport a component from wherever the event occurred to the service facility, as well as the cost to ship a rental component to the site of the maintenance event, should not be underestimated.
- Financing Benefits – Each aircraft financing entity has its own way of valuing Hourly Cost Maintenance Programs, so it’s difficult to determine the exact value that any one financier may place on HCMP coverage. However, the savings differential over the term of a loan or lease could be substantial.
In addition to the OEMs, HCMP coverage is available from independent sources. Their advantage is the ability to cover components produced by more than one OEM, making them a one-stop-shop. However, some firms may not be acceptable to financing entities, may not offer coverage equivalent to the OEM, and their program may not be transferable – making its value questionable.
Hourly Cost Maintenance Programs are by no means free, but the additional value they can provide to the aircraft’s owner, can make them a wise investment. BAA
Anthony Kioussis is president of Asset Insight, LLC, which offers eValues™, an online service providing Current and Residual aircraft valuations. With 40+ years in aviation, he serves on the National Aircraft Finance Association Board of Directors.