We’re meeting face-to-face again. And I, for one, am thrilled.
It has been more than two years since our pre-Covid M&Os, our maintenance and operations symposiums, and it feels a bit like coming out of our foxholes. We’re blinking in the sunlight and seeing who else is around. Already in 2022, we’ve held M&O sessions in Paris, Denver, Dallas, Toluca and Sao Paulo.
We use these events to share a lot of practical information, but this year the attendees seem to particularly appreciate reconnecting with each other. For the customer service organization, the M&Os are an important source of feedback.
We collect important anecdotal comments. For example, we are hearing at these forums that flight departments are pleased to be back to the business of flying, but there can be too much of a good thing. Flying hours are up a lot—about 20 percent in North America. Some operators tell us that they budgeted for 400 flight hours in 2022 and flew 250 hours in the first quarter alone.
That kind of sharp increase strains the resources of flight departments and the MRO network, which in some regions is struggling to accommodate scheduled maintenance requests. I’m speaking here of the entire industry’s MRO network, not just Dassault’s facilities. We are working with our operators to make sure they can schedule inspections when needed—either at Dassault-owned or authorized facilities.
We’re hearing enthusiasm for upgrade programs such as the recently announced EASy IV avionics package for the 7X and 8X. We want the Dassault Aviation MRO network to be a one-stop resource for upgrades and other services that keep customer aircraft at the cutting edge, having the most modern technologies and helping to retain aircraft value.
And of course we hear where we can do better, which is a major purpose of these M&O meetings. We had frank face-to-face conversations about parts support. As many readers know, we’ve transitioned to a new platform solution for spares support. The software transition hasn’t been easy and has been compounded by the kind of supply chain issues all industries are seeing and by Covid-related staffing issues. Operators have been very understanding as we work the kinks out of the system; I’d call it a “we’re all in this together” attitude.
That sort of good will heartens our team. It highlights why it’s so important to have direct feedback. And then act upon it.
By the way, the EBACE trade show in Geneva, which begins next week, is also a great venue for customer dialogue, and a way to tour the latest new planes like the Falcon 6X. We’ll have a number of our key customer service team members in attendance. Will you be there? If so, please do stop by and chat with us.
Senior Vice President, Worldwide Falcon Customer Service & Service Center Network