I am advised by the military authorities that the Air Corps operate a maintenance plan which endeavours to ensure that the maximum number of operational flying hours is available from the current aircraft fleet when most needed. The maintenance of the Air Corps fleet falls into three broad categories: scheduled, unscheduled and routine/daily. The use of performance based maintenance contracts with original equipment manufacturers assists the Air Corps in keeping downtime of aircraft to the minimum and this is in line with international best practice.
It is currently the case that various aspects of aircraft maintenance are out-sourced by the Air Corps because the cost of in-house provision of such niche expertise and the specialist equipment required to certify airframes would be prohibitively expensive and not cost effective in the context of the number of airframes operated by the Air Corps.
In this regard, the Military Authorities have advised that the Irish Air Corps has a contract with Leonardo Aircraft, the original equipment manufacturers, for service support provided by a number of their aircraft technicians. These personnel provide additional specialist helicopter maintenance services on site in Casement Aerodrome and are directly employed by Leonardo Aircraft and are not outside agency aircraft maintenance workers employed under a contract for services directly by the Air Corps. In addition, they are not senior aircraft inspectors and the work undertaken by them is carried out under the supervision of senior Air Corps Technicians and Aeronautical Engineering Officers. The invoiced cost to date in 2021 for this original equipment manufacturer service support is €172,000.
I am satisfied that the Defence Forces have the necessary modern and effective range of equipment available to them to ensure that they can fulfil the roles assigned to them by Government.