StandardAero, well established in the airline engine MRO business, is refocusing its attention on the business aviation segment. While the company’s roots are intertwined with business aviation as far back as the early days of the Garrett (now Honeywell) TFE731 engine, StandardAero hasn’t done a lot of marketing to the business aviation community during the past few years. According to director of marketing Mike Turner, that’s changing, and kicking off the new focus is a recently acquired organization designation authorization (ODA).
“We have been given STC ODA through our Springfield operation,” Turner said. “In just a few months we have signed several million dollars’ worth of projects.”
ODA allows StandardAero (Booth No. 2699) to significantly shorten supplemental type certificate (STC) certification time because the company’s engineers can now act on behalf of the FAA. The MRO was the first ODA approved by the FAA’s Chicago Aircraft Certification Office. “It’s not like the current DER [designated engineering representative] rating,” Turner said. “ODA will eventually replace the DER because it is enhanced; it isn’t just for a single location. With the ODA we can offer our services all over the world. It really opens up our STC capability, and our engineers already have a long list of things they want to develop for the business aviation market.”
Turner said when the company made the decision to begin aggressively pursuing the business aviation market, management came to the realization that
it needed to improve the company’s customer service.
“For a long time we relied on our technical expertise, our ability to do a first-class job. And to some degree we neglected the overall customer experience interfacing with the company. As we began positioning ourselves for growth we took a hard look at how we’d been doing. We did a self-study looking both internally and at customer feedback to determine what factors had enabled and what factors inhibited growth.”
One result of the study was to name Scott Taylor the senior vice president of business aviation. Previously Taylor had been vice president of sales, marketing and business development. A 20-year business aviation veteran, Taylor has also worked for Honeywell and GE.
“You can have all the capability in the world, but if you don’t have a great storefront and excellent customer service, nothing else matters,” Taylor said. “We’ll be refocusing the entire customer experience and we will be reinvesting in our business aviation group as a whole. The thrust of the makeover will begin in early 2010 and will continue for a couple of years, but we’ve been working on facets
of it for some time.”
Taylor explained that his vision includes facility upgrades and capability expansions with a strong emphasis on improving customer service. “Beginning next year, customers will begin seeing immediate changes in StandardAero’s four primary shops across the United States,” he said. These include Augusta, Ga.; Springfield, Ill.; Houston; and Los Angeles, as well as smaller operations in Omaha, Neb.,
and Little Rock, Ark. All four of the main business aviation facilities are Dassault Falcon-authorized service centers and some are Bombardier service centers.
The TFE731 is, in many ways, the backbone of the company. StandardAero spent more than a year developing processes for the Los Angeles facility to drive down the TFE731 turn time to a guaranteed 14 days. “The industry average is about 26 days,” Taylor said.
Another major StandardAero engine program is the Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 upgrade and overhaul facility. One popular upgrade is the PT6A-52 modification (STC SA02715CH-D) to replace PT6A-41 or -42 engines on the Beechcraft King Air 200/B200 with PT6A-52 engines and four-blade Hartzell propellers. Many PT6A-41 and -42 engines have been in service more than 35 years and are approaching their third and fourth overhaul, significantly driving up the costs of operating the engine. The StandardAero engine-upgrade program gives customers a new PT6A-52 engine for a slightly higher cost than overhauling their aging PT6A-41 or -42 engines while increasing performance and aircraft value. The mod also boosts cruise speed to more than 300 ktas. StandardAero also offers extended warranty coverage to 10 years or based on engine TBO. "
“We are the only business aviation MRO that can do everything in-house,” Taylor said, “engines, airframe, avionics, interiors, refurbishing and paint. We work on better than 60 percent of the engines flying in business aviation today. Typically an operator goes to an MRO that will do airframe work but it will pull the engine and send it elsewhere. Our customers can keep their eye on their entire aircraft.”
Taylor said that StandardAero is planning to expand its avionics capabilities. “We’re selectively hiring highly qualified avionics techs,” he said. “We already have a great [Rockwell Collins] Pro Line 21 upgrade system we’re offering.” And StandardAero is also developing a Honeywell Primus upgrade program that will replace DU-870 displays with flat-panel LCDs capable of supporting moving maps, weather and other modern avionics features.
StandardAero’s Springfield facility has, for many years, specialized in interior, refurbishment and paint. Taylor said that despite Springfield’s strong reputation, “over the years we’ve let them get old and tired. We didn’t do a lot to promote
and support it so that is an area where we are focusing our attention. We want to make our Springfield operation a focal point for business aviation. We’re substantially investing in bringing it up to date and promoting it within the industry.”
Taylor added that the quality of the work at Springfield has never been in question. “Quality, reliability and safety are the baseline of customer expectation. If you’re not doing that, you’ve got some serious issues. What happened in our case was as budgets got tight we might have traded off repainting the building to rechannel the funds to maintain the quality of our service. The first order of business now is to increase our customer service experience.”
Taylor defined “customer experience” as the entire customer/StandardAero experience, ranging from the first conversation with a mobile service team member until the customer taxies away. “We’ve begun placing a lot of emphasis on such things as employee attitude, easy-to-deal-with paperwork, straightforward and timely invoicing and the facility itself,” he said. “The customer ends up living with us for a period of time, sometimes as long as two months. Our facilities should be set up in a way that every customer has a user-friendly work station so they can be as productive working at our location as they are in their own offices. We’re focusing on cleaning up our facilities and making them useful to our customers.”