The contract includes maintenance of the airframe, components and engines, along with a major avionics upgrade, to be carried out in partnership with Boeing.
AFI KLM E&M — the maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) arm of Air France-KLM — has been awarded the tender by the French defence procurement agency (DGA) for a single contract covering maintenance (MCO) and cockpit renovation for the four-aircraft AWACS fleet of the French Air Force. MCO includes the maintenance of the fleet's airframe, components and engines.
While operational support is still under the responsibility of the French Air Force, AFI KLM E&M will provide in-hangar industrial maintenance, engine engineering, and the end-to-end supply chain, including inventory management and the maintenance of the AWACS-specific information system which guarantees data exchange data confidentiality.
The MCO part of the contract will be supervised by the SIMMAD, a special maintenance unit for France's defence aviation equipment.
A key part of this contract is an AWACS cockpit upgrade. The aircraft, which was commissioned in the early 1990s, will undergo a complete refurbishment of its avionics, including the redesign of its autopilot and intertial navigation system.
To ensure this work is carried out under optimum conditions, AFI KLM E&M has selected Boeing Defense, Space & Security as a major partner in this contract. Boeing has already carried out a similar upgrade for both the US Air Force and NATO.
Under the present partnership, AFI KLM E&M will provide project management for the upgrade while Boeing will be responsible for certification, as it is already qualified for this type certificate.
This is not the first joint operation by AFI KLM E&M and Boeing Defense, Space & Security on an AWACS product. In recent years, AFI KLM E&M worked with the U.S. company on a major Mid Life Upgrade (MLU) operation in a contract with the US Air Force.