“I think more Falcon operators need to know what the OAB does and that they can use it and benefit from its work.” That was a conclusion from Joe Coates, Senior Director of Aviation for Home Depot, the operator of four Falcons.
“I agree,” said Wim Melyn, Director of Maintenance for Abelag Aviation, a unit of Luxaviation, with 10 Falcons in Belgium. “Not all operators are aware of the leverage they have to use this channel.”
Yikes! Clearly, my team and I need to make operators more aware of what goes on at an OAB meeting. This column is part of that effort.
Joe and Wim just attended their first OAB meeting, which was in New Jersey earlier this month. Joe noted the elaborate setup of the conference room: a dozen large monitors for presentations, and with OAB members, who do most of the talking, at a center table and about 30 Dassault representatives, who do most of the listening, around the periphery. “I had the impression of a max effort to make this a valuable interaction,” Joe said.
Joe raised concerns about aging and obsolete systems, for example radars that may no longer be supported by their original manufacturers. Wim suggested changes to the Customer Portal for more intuitive use.
If you want to know how the OAB works, these very specific issues and broader ones – regarding the supply chain, for example – are all aired. Dassault representatives draw up detailed reports. The board makes specific recommendations and Dassault responds in subsequent meetings.
Often the response is quite significant – for example, undertaking a certification effort to raise the gross weight of the Falcon 2000S.
The board is intended to surface issues from the field to senior management – and spur a response from Dassault. “Everyone can’t be on the board, but they can use me as a means to raise their concerns to the board,” said Joe. Wim saw a benefit to having board representatives from around the world sharing diverse experiences.
For example, Wim said, European operators are experiencing more acutely the threat to business aviation from climate activists, who are storming airport ramps and vandalizing business jets. “This is a wakeup call for the industry worldwide.”
I asked Joe and Wim for their takeaways from their first meeting. “I really came away feeling Dassault is focused on the future fleet and satisfying the needs of current customers,” Joe said. He noted recent supply chain issues, but sees Dassault as committed to making things better. He told us he had seen dramatic improvement over the last 10 years.
“I went with a neutral opinion,” said Wim, “and found it to be a very positive experience.” Wim says he was surprised to see so many senior executives there to listen, not only from Customer Service but from Engineering and Marketing and other teams.
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