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Volume 451: debated on Monday 30 October 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what impact the reduced frequency of equalised maintenance packages has had on (a) costs, (b) aircraft availability and (c) safety assessments; and what savings are targeted for 2006-07 and future years. (92624)

Equalised maintenance packages for the RAF's Harrier GR7/9 fleet were introduced in 2005. This has improved aircraft availability by an average of two aircraft per day. The airworthiness of the aircraft is also considered to have benefited from equalised maintenance packages but this aspect has yet to be quantified. The total technical support and man hour requirement of the new scheduled maintenance cycle is similar to the previous arrangements, albeit delivered more effectively; accordingly, there have been no measurable cost savings to date.

Equalised maintenance packages are currently being introduced for the RAF's Nimrod MR2/R1 fleet. At this stage it is too early to measure accurately the full benefits of this change, but it is forecast that the new scheduled maintenance regime will deliver significant improvements in aircraft availability, and financial savings of approximately £2 million per annum from financial year 2008-09. Before implementing this change a full safety assessment was carried out on the Nimrod MR2/R1 fleet and further safety assessments will be undertaken as the transition to equalised maintenance moves forward.