Scott Taylor (ST), Senior Vice President Business Aviation at StandardAero says the company will continue to stay abreast of the technology exhibited on newer aircraft. “It is ALL about understanding the customers, their mission and how we can support them,” he tells Executive & VIP Aviation International (EVA)
EVA How have you made sure that during the down cycle you positioned yourself correctly for the up cycle in terms of aircraft/engine populations (according to type), geographic locations and the correct skillsets/training? What does StandardAero do to understand the future market?
ST In 2009 we focused heavily on analysing the market volumes by aircraft type/region, customer needs and decision-making processes, and the competitive landscape by aircraft type and region. One real key to our success is understanding the basic fact that during a down cycle, it is exactly the WRONG time to cut where the customer will feel service degradation in any way. Many companies will cut cost in down cycles and the easy place to cut is in the area of sales, customer service and other “non-production” areas. This is why customers tend to feel service or responsiveness degradation during market down turns. We did the opposite and invested in customer experience and it has paid off nicely.
We have created focus around very specific aircraft types to target so that we have nose to tail capability and also use this to drive our training, tooling spend, etc, to ensure we’re the best at the aircraft we are targeting.
To understand the future market we work with the OEMs, forecasters in the market and with customers to understand flying hours, aircraft sales/distribution and technology trends to ensure we’re ahead of the market in planning.
EVA With business aviation so service oriented, to what extent have you invested in the logistics and teams to get components and services to where they need to be?
ST We work closely with the OEMs and ensure that we have the right inventory at the right levels to meet the service requirements. We have built a mobile service team (MST) network that is specifically targeted to aircraft populations so that we’re “in their back yard” and ready to support immediately. We have added four teams in 2010 and will add three more in 2011 for a total of 16 teams throughout North America. We get outstanding feedback from our customers on our MST team support.
EVA How have you innovated in terms of delivering packaged services to the business aviation community that take into account the low usage levels and yet the high expectations of the business aviation customer?
ST We have teams at each facility set up by aircraft types or “crews”. Our strategy, as mentioned earlier, focuses on aircraft types. Our TotalCare™ program is specifically oriented toward packaging services by aircraft type so that we can fully support the customer in the execution of their mission. By trying not to be “all things to all customers” we focus on target platforms and not on others, thus ensuring we do get the volume to sustain an effective and efficient team that delivers perfect service every time.
EVA Large cabin interior completions appear to have been somewhat insulated from the downturn by long lead times. Please can you comment on StandardAero’s experience of this side of its business over the last three years and whether long lead times continue to characterise this part of the business?
ST Our VIP completions business run out of Associated Air Center (AAC) in Dallas has really not experienced the effects of the down turn that we had seen in our Business Aviation Sector over the last couple of years. Business has been particularly strong out of AAC in 2010 as we have substantially improved our operational performance there. Our turn around times have improved significantly over the last 18 months and we are now achieving best in industry performance. There is still a lot of pent up demand though in the industry and completion capacity has actually expanded with new completion centers continuing to come on line. The most notable effect has been the reduction in slot deposits that we saw in the industry a couple of years ago. We do anticipate capacity tightening up though as we enter into 2011 with several wide body projects coming out of the OEMs at the end of that year.
EVA Is an aircraft serviced by StandardAero an aircraft that enjoys some protection in terms of aircraft values?
ST We work as an authorised service center for several airframe OEMs. This gives the buyer of an aircraft the confidence that we comply with the OEM requirements. However, because of our legacy of being Garrett Aviation, we have worked on aircraft for over 50 years and have deep understanding and experience with aircraft for which we are not currently authorised. Some OEMs have decided to eliminate their authorised network in favour of doing the work in-house. However, customers recognise where the experience exists and where they get treated the best and once the aircraft is out of warranty, they’ll go where they feel most comfortable (experience and service levels). The marketplace recognises StandardAero as an MRO with the highest quality work and therefore aircraft value is certainly maintained when it has been serviced by our shops.
EVA Having grown through acquisition and merger is StandardAero now the right size and shape for the business aviation market going forward or is building a business like yours ongoing?
ST We continuously look at our capabilities and footprint to assess how we can best serve the market. Obviously you can’t be everywhere in the world but you can establish partnerships with other quality and like-minded companies to put together a network of capabilities that is responsive to market needs. We will always be looking at ways to expand our service offering and that can come organically, through acquisition and through partnerships.
EVA How are you accommodating the growth in the international market given your US base?
ST We are currently partnering with world-class companies to bring our greatest strengths together with their strengths to offer the global market outstanding services.
EVA With the Middle East and BRIC countries still showing so much promise, what does your analysis tell you that you need to put in place to accommodate the characteristics of these markets?
ST We are starting with partnerships and will evaluate the need for acquisition or organic development of in-country capability based on a variety of criteria to include growth rate, ease of doing business, where customers from the specific country want to take their aircraft for MRO, and other considerations.
EVA What does a truly balanced future-facing StandardAero look like?
ST We are focused on providing full service on specific platforms in specific regions. As was announced at NBAA, an example of this is establishing line service capability for PW307, 308, 305 engines because we have the airframe authorisations and capabilities for the Falcon 7X, Falcon 2000EX and Learjet 60. This gives the operators of those aircraft the confidence in StandardAero to provide TotalCare™ for their aircraft or “one-stop-shop” service capability thus reducing risk, downtime and greater efficiency for the flight department in managing their aircraft. We will continue to stay abreast of the technology coming out on newer aircraft to ensure our capabilities match our customer needs for service….it is ALL about understanding the customers, their mission and how we can support them…..we get it.