Among the improvements that Bombardier has brought to its aftermarket support is recently adding a second mobile response team (MRT) jet, a Challenger 300, based in Frankfurt, Germany.
“[Since 2014] we've been flying our Learjet 45 across the United States to bring our parts and technicians to where airplanes needed them. This has been a very successful program,” said Jean-Christophe Gallagher, v-p and general manager, customer experience. “The next step in how we're going to improve our customer experience is to bring the same kind of response to Europe.”
The new jet will begin flying parts and technicians to help resolve AOG problems for Learjet, Challenger, and Global operators throughout Europe in the second half of this year. The location of the jet takes advantage of Bombardier’s parts depot in Frankfurt, providing coverage into northern Africa, the Middle East, and Russia. “That’s a strategic move for us, which will take our response in Europe to a whole new level,” he said.
Bombardier’s MRT now has 23 trucks worldwide, and these supplement six new line maintenance stations in Europe and maintenance control centers in Wichita, Kansas, and Linz, Austria.
Many of the support improvements are driven by the upcoming entry into service of the Global 7500. “We’re rolling out our full training to technicians across the network so that they get to know the airplane,” Gallagher said, “and this comes at a time when we're enhancing all our facilities.” More than 4,700 Bombardier jets are in service, with 600 of those based in Europe.
Over the years, Bombardier’s support network has supplemented its factory-owned and authorized service centers with the MRTs and the Learjet 45, explained Andy Nureddin, v-p customer response and training. The MRT technicians don’t just help resolve AOGs but also perform scheduled maintenance, where it doesn’t make sense to fly the jet to a service center. “It's a lot cheaper and a lot more convenient for us to go to your facility or to the line station and be able to offer that service,” he said.
“If you have a technical event, you're going to need a couple of things. You need experienced technicians that can troubleshoot the aircraft, the parts to be at that place, then the facilities and the tools. So through having the aircraft, the trucks, and multiple locations [plus] the maintenance technicians that are available, you could have multiple paths towards responding to any occasion anywhere in North America. Alternately, in situations where we can't get the truck to drive there fast enough, we can go pick up the people from the truck and their tools and go with parts to [where] the technical event has occurred. We've learned to exercise that muscle really well.”
The European regulatory framework is different compared to the U.S., so the European MRT trucks are more for carrying parts, with maintenance done at line stations. Six of these stations were part of Bombardier’s acquisition of Austrian Air Support 18 months ago, including facilities in Nice and Cannes. “That doesn't change the fact that we still need to shrink the continent,” said Nureddin, “and the best way to do that is to deploy a Challenger 300 hosted at our Frankfurt facility because [of] lessons learned from the experience that we've had in North America.”
“The driver there is always wanting to improve the level of service,” said Brad Nolen, v-p, marketing and product strategy. “The reliability of our fleet is steadily increasing, so the airplanes are becoming more reliable as we're adding these trucks into the market.”
Another driver for Bombardier is to encourage owners and operators to bring their airplanes home for service, explained Bill Molloy, v-p, aftermarket product and sales. “We're looking to make sure that we give our customers what they need,” he said. “If you have a philosophy of bringing your jets home, you need to be able to marry the services that the customer is looking for versus the capabilities that you have.”
For Bombardier (Booth 2125), this means helping customers not only with airframe maintenance but also with engines. On the Challenger 300 and 350 Honeywell HTF engines, for example, service intervals sometimes occur out of phase with airframe inspection times, and it’s more costly to bring the jet in for separate engine and airframe events. While Bombardier is seeking approval from Honeywell to provide HTF engine services in its facilities, in the meantime it teamed with Turbine Engine Specialists to service the Challenger engines during airframe maintenance events at Bombardier’s facilities in Dallas; Hartford, Connecticut; Tucson, Arizona; Wichita, Kansas; and Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
“We agreed that we would embed them within our service centers,” said Molloy, “so we can offer our customers the ability to come to our facilities to have engine work completed.”
There is another benefit to Bombardier’s strategy, and that is the opportunity to offer customers additional services and upgrades while the aircraft is down for maintenance. This ranges from add-ons such as Smart Services cost-per-hour programs to NextGen avionics upgrades (ADS-B Out, FANS 1/A+) and airborne connectivity. “Connectivity is massive right now,” Molloy said. “Everybody wants to be connected in the air.”