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Perspective -- George Field

Boeing Commercial Airplanes Group is constantly working to keep pace with growing customer expectations in an increasingly competitive market. Our new Rapid Response Center is an excellent example of this effort. It is a comprehensive, one-stop source of information to assist our airline customers with airplane-on-ground (AOG) situations outside the company’s normal business hours. The center provides operators with an unprecedented level of support at night, on weekends, and during holidays. Boeing is the first commercial airplane manufacturer to offer this type of service.

While we have always offered around-the-clock support to our customers, this is the first time we have assembled such a broad team of technical experts in one location. The Rapid Response Center is based at Boeing Customer Support in Seattle, with videoconferencing equipment linking it to a satellite office in Everett, Wash. Its dedicated team consists of technical specialists, including structures engineers, systems/troubleshooting engineers, field service representatives, spares personnel, and maintenance/publications engineers.

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The center began full operation last July after completing a limited three-month trial run. Since then, the center has resolved nearly 1,700 AOG-type situations for approximately 250 airlines. On average, we have responded with a solution to each customer problem in 1.5 hr. So far, the quick access to information in our sophisticated databases has saved our customers an estimated $17 million.

Advancing technology has played a big role in making the Rapid Response Center possible. Much of the company’s technical documentation is now stored digitally and is immediately available to center personnel on line. Just over a year ago, much of this information was available only on paper.

Having the right people and the right tools in place makes it possible to respond to customer service requests much more quickly. For example, we have saved considerable time by greatly reducing the need to call off-duty Boeing engineers and technical experts during the night and on weekends.

To date, Rapid Response Center services are limited to operators of premerger Boeing commercial airplanes. We expect to extend our coverage to Douglas-model airplanes in the near future. Until then, calls regarding those models will continue to be supported by the Long Beach division 24-hr support desk.

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When you consider that we serve a fleet of approximately 11,000 airplanes and that 70 percent of our customers are at work when we are not, it is clear that we have to explore every opportunity for innovative ways to serve them better. We continuously research how to make the Rapid Response Center even more efficient and effective.

Speaking of innovation, I would like to share a few words about our new Fleet Team initiative, which streamlines the delivery of engineering support to Boeing operators. At the heart of this effort is the Fleet Team Resolution Process, a new approach to handling service-related problems. By accessing a Fleet Team Bulletin Board on the Boeing web site, customers can participate in deciding which fleet issues receive priority attention. The Fleet Team Resolution Process, implemented with 747 operators in late 1999, will be applied to all other Boeing models by the middle of 2000. The new Fleet Team initiative will also produce improvements in Boeing conferences and reports.

The growth and success of The Boeing Company in the 1990s was the result of innovation, dependability, and outstanding customer service. As we enter a new century, the company will evolve to better meet your needs, but you can be sure that our commitment to excellence will remain the same.

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