Keep on Truckin’

by Dale Smith

Trcuking251While mobile AOG capabilities were once a “nice-to-have” service, today business aircraft OEMs are finding that they’re now a “must-have” in order to keep their customers happy and their brand growing.

If you want to talk about one area of business aviation that has really changed – and fast – it’s been in the growth of mobile AOG services. Just ask Mitch Choquette, VP of Customer Support for Gulfstream Aerospace. Choquette has not only seen this segment of the support industry make gigantic strides over the past couple of decades, he’s been one of its leaders.

“If you go back to the early-90’s, any road type support was handled from the closest service center. You either got a car or on an airliner with some parts and tools and went to try and fix an airplane,” he said. “When I first started here that’s how it was done. There were no specific tools or procedures to help you do this.”

As the owners and operators of their aircraft increasingly found themselves traveling to airports that were not near established company service centers, OEMs quickly realized that this “wild west” approach to remote AOG repairs just wouldn’t cut it any longer.

To keep sales up, customers needed to know that should they have a problem, there was at the very least a structured process for getting them the help they needed to get back in the air.

While every business aircraft manufacturers’ goal is pretty much the same, each has taken a slightly different course to provide these valuable services to their owner/operators. Aviation Maintenance contacted a few of them to see how their mobile maintenance program started and how it is progressing.

Bombardier Business Aircraft

“When you’re in the customer service business you live and die with every AOG situation,” stated Stan Younger, VP, Service Centres for Bombardier Business Aircraft. “Andy (Nureddin) and I read the AOG board every day to see who is handling what and what resources they need.”

Younger said that Bombardier introduced its first seven dedicated AOG mobile trucks back in 2012. “We put them in areas were we have a density of owner/operators as well as proximity to city pairs to give us the best possible coverage,” he said. “We wanted to help our customers be more successful with our products.”

Since then, the company has added six more, custom-built AOG trucks and a dedicated Lear 45 support aircraft.

“You never like an AOG, and you never want your customers to have an AOG, but you really want to be there when they do because you want to be able to take control of the problem and serve them without having to deal with a third-party – someone who doesn’t have the expertise in your products and ideas on how to best deal with the customer,” he said.

Younger also explained that while AOG support was their primary mission the company has extended its mobile services beyond the boundaries of those traditional services.

“We can help our customers in two ways,” he said. “Of course, we can help with AOG events, but we can also visit their facilities to help with some routine maintenance tasks. The added benefit of offering the on-site service is it goes a long way towards strengthening customer relationships.”

“You’d be surprised at how much our customers talk to each other,” Younger added. “Our team will be working on one customer’s aircraft and another nearby customer will call and ask to ‘borrow’ them.”

As for the future, Andy Nureddin, VP and GM for Customer Services said that their near-term goal is to fully integrate the AOG trucks and aircraft within the company’s Customer Response Center’s activities.

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