Dassault restructures service/support network

 - November 26, 2007, 8:08 AM

To improve support for a worldwide fleet of some 1,600 Falcons, last month Dassault Falcon Jet announced at the NBAA show that it has restructured its service network to create Dassault Aircraft Services and provide owners and operators with “the kind of support they expect of an airplane of this quality.”

“The Falcon customer sees us as one company, whether it’s in Little Rock, Arkansas, Teterboro, New Jersey, or Paris, and we need to meet that expectation in terms of service and pricing,” said Todd McGahey, v-p and general manager of the Dassault Falcon Jet service center in Wilmington, Del. The idea, he explained, is to “create an integrated approach to Falcon service worldwide, improve all levels of support offered directly to Falcon operators and develop programs that reduce aircraft operating costs.”

The Dassault Aircraft Services (DAS) network is composed of centers at Paris, Le Bourget, Little Rock and Wilmington. Aircraft and engine maintenance, exterior paint, interior refurbishment, avionics modifications, engineering, non-destructive testing, AOG go teams and full warranty services are available at all three facilities.
Additionally, Aero Precision Repair & Overhaul in Deerfield Beach, Fla., specializes in Falcon landing gear and flight controls, and Midway Aircraft Instrument at Teterboro Airport, N.J., focuses on computer, electrical, fuel, pneumatics and pressurization systems for these aircraft.

The Dassault Falcon Service center at Le Bourget is, by function, part of the reorganization, but will for the moment retain its name identity, said Gerald Goguen, senior v-p of customer service. The facility, according to Goguen, remains the world’s largest dedicated Dassault service center with some 500 employees. Last year the shop performed maintenance on 403 Falcons, did major periodic inspections (MPIs) on 20 TFE731 engines, overhauled 25 landing gear assemblies and received recognition by Pratt & Whitney Canada as an authorized PW308C engine maintenance facility.

A major part of the consolidation also involves an expansion of capacity, and nowhere in the system is it more evident than at Wilmington, where a long-term $30 million renovation and expansion started in 2001. Now nearing the final phase, construction began in July for a 40,000-sq-ft paint hangar (see story on page 76). It will be a multi-bay Environmental Protection Agency Title V-approved facility, specializing in design and the application of high-solids paint. It was specifically created to accommodate Dassault’s new long-range Falcon 7X.

Also new at Wilmington is an increase in capacity and capabilities in the engine shop and establishment of a 24/7 callout crew to service “all corporate aircraft needs from nose to tail.” A phased renovation of the structural repair center has been completed, and it is the only U.S.-based manufacturing and repair center for Falcon structural components.

Falcon 2000 operators will be pleased to learn that the Wilmington center has received factory approval for installation of Honeywell’s 34-parameter digital flight-data recorder. It is also adding Honeywell/GE CFE738 engine major MPI capability to the newly expanded and modernized engine shop, and in January, will receive major service center authorization for such work.

Wilmington is also upgrading its ability to provide support to the older fleet of Falcon 10s and 20s. According to Dassault, the combined Falcon 10 and 20 fleet worldwide totals 609 aircraft, of which 457 are in service in the Western hemisphere, most of them in North America.

Expansion at Wilmington is already paying off, said v-p and general manager Todd McGahey. He noted that in August the facility recorded 61 maintenance support road trips and 1,600 manhours, a 90-percent increase from January of this year.

At the same time, work on a new paint hangar is proceeding at the Little Rock Completion Center. It will add 46,000 sq ft to the existing capacity, and will also accommodate the Falcon 7X.

With the three main service centers at Le Bourget, Little Rock and Wilmington, DAS expects to offer Falcon owners a “seamless package of services, parts and pricing,” according to DAS president Jack Young. To support this effort, there will be a cross-pollination sharing of “best practices” and a worker-exchange program. There are also plans to coordinate standard maintenance services at Le Bourget, Little Rock and Wilmington for development of a “firm priced” pre-purchase standard inspection checklist.

To increase direct contact with customers and coordinate and standardize service and pricing, DAS has established a network of eight regional account executives in the U.S., each directly responsible for a specific group of Falcon operators. According to John Rahilly, v-p of national service center sales and marketing, each of the two U.S.-based major service centers will see an increase in staff to back up these regional representatives.

“Dassault Aircraft Services is the final piece in the puzzle of how to give our customers the kind of support they expect of the people who produce an airplane of this quality,” said Young.