This is the first in a series of articles focusing on the diverse range of customers that rely on Dowty Propellers’ services for the safe, reliable and efficient operation of their aircraft fleets. It is based on a discussion with Chris Wilson, Materials Manager for UK-based Flybe.
Established in 1979, Flybe is Europe’s largest regional airline – with 218 routes serving 10 countries from 75 departure points (as of October 2016). In addition, it operates more UK domestic flights than any other carrier.
The Dowty Propellers’ asset management plan for Flybe covers in-service propeller blades and hubs, ensuring that replacements are readily available in cases of scheduled or unscheduled maintenance solutions, as well as AOG (aircraft-on-ground) situations. As part of the program, Dowty Propellers positions blades and hub hardware at Flybe’s Birmingham operation – maintaining a consistent on-hand stock at this location.
According to Flybe Materials Manager Chris Wilson, partnering with Dowty Propellers provides many advantages, beginning with the expertise that comes from working directly with the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) and type certificate holder.
Key benefits realized with Dowty Propellers’ asset management services offering include increased aircraft availability, reduced needs for stock/spares inventory, enhanced fleet planning flexibility, lower maintenance costs and more, he added.
“Another major reason we continue to partner with Dowty Propellers is we find them to be very, very flexible,” said Wilson. “When Flybe faced some tough operational and commercial challenges, particularly around 2013, Dowty was extremely supportive during that period and in their own way, helped ensure our success.”
According to Wilson, Dowty Propellers’ support infrastructure remained “fluid and focused” during that challenging period, simplifying the management of propeller systems at a crucial time when Flybe was reinventing itself in order to remain commercially viable.
Dowty Propellers-equipped aircraft
Working with Dowty Propellers
He stated that Dowty Propellers’ support has not wavered in the wake of Flybe’s successful restructuring and subsequent growth, and praised the company’s proactive outreach to regularly advise of operational best practices, as well as to ensure the airline’s compliance with recommended engineering procedures.
“There’s a very good line of communication between Flybe and Dowty Propellers,” Wilson said. “We don’t go to sleep on any issues that are encountered – they’re discussed and resolved.”
The two companies’ strong communication links also came into play after the 2015 fire at Dowty Propellers’ Gloucestershire headquarters that required a re-start of production from an interim location.
“We’re all impressed by how Dowty Propellers handled the situation and kept us informed, as well as the speed with which they had their operation up and running again,” added Wilson. “We didn’t see any supply chain issues because they managed it so closely.”
In support of Dowty Propellers’ post-fire “industrial reset,” Flybe assisted with hardware availability by releasing previously-delivered propeller sets. This contributed to a pool of available resources that aided Dowty Propellers in its continued support and supply for a wider Q400 operator base while production capacity was being recovered.
The new “pooling” arrangement has provided significant advantages for both Dowty Propellers and Flybe, and it will remain in place indefinitely – supporting a faster and smoother flow of components as the companies’ long-term partnership continues over the years to come.