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What I learned from our new Operator Advisory Board

By Jean Kayanakis
Senior Vice President,
Worldwide Customer Service & Service Center Network
Dassault Aviation

Last month, EVP Carlos Brana and I participated in two days of global OAB meetings in Paris. With the Paris Olympics on everyone’s mind, our room had the same sort of energy.

It was a pleasure to hear, once again, from this global group of operators. OAB leadership’s appreciation for their quality time with Dassault management was even more satisfying.

Our new OAB Chairman, Mike Higgins, who leads a five-Falcon flight department on the U.S. West Coast, was impressed that the meeting attracted 23 of 24 OAB members (one had an unavoidable schedule conflict). He was equally pleased that Dassault attendees were double that number. The OAB also has a new Vice Chairman, Rolf Zeller, a veteran of the group who is chief pilot for a Zurich-based company. These are two great leaders, guiding the OAB and representing all Falcon operators.

The OAB is one of our best investments in support of Falcon operators because we learn so much. And session attendance has been increasing. The panel was expanded this year from 20 to 24 operators in case of scheduling conflicts. In fact, more members attended than ever before. I interpret that to mean that our operators find the OAB a valuable commitment of their time.

“I’ve been on the board for ten years,” Mike said. “What I see is that Dassault takes this panel seriously. They take input well and turn it into action items. You can see it with spares, 6X and 10X development, and emerging issues, especially regarding the environment.”

So, what’s on the minds of OAB members now?

  • Sustainability is number one, considering the protests and political actions in Europe. Mike feels that Europe is a leading indicator for what is likely coming to the U.S., so we should support SAF availability and best operating practices to minimize fuel consumption.
  • The increase in GPS spoofing also has the attention of members. Flight departments like Mike’s operate worldwide and are therefore vulnerable. Though they see this mainly in the Middle East, it occasionally happens in the U.S.
  • The board has noticed an improvement in spares support. Mike says he has seen a consistently improving trend over the last few years. It certainly remains a top issue on my radar.

Here are some things we’ll focus on in the months ahead:

  • The OAB resolved to encourage improved communications from major avionics suppliers concerning in-service and new aircraft support.
  • Artificial Intelligence has emerged as a topic that needs attention. Though Dassault has used AI for years in military and civilian applications, new innovations will eventually help improve all sorts of aircraft operations. We had a fascinating discussion on this subject, which we’ll continue in the future.
  • We also decided to have another workshop on customer communications and how to most effectively deliver information through the channels preferred by pilots— for example, through instant messaging apps.

Mike and I have seen how topics tend to evolve over the years. For instance, a decade ago, we would never have imagined discussing AI. At that time, few of us even knew what it was. And sustainability was not the hot-button issue it is today.

The world keeps changing, but the OAB helps us keep up. My deepest thanks to everyone who helped plan and participated in this year’s annual meeting.

Jean Kayanakis

Senior Vice President, Worldwide Falcon Customer Service & Service Center Network

Dassault Aviation

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