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In my customer support job here at Boeing, which I find very exciting, people seldom come to me with good news. They almost always want to talk about a problem, and it’s usually related to one of three things: an airplane on ground (AOG), an airplane that’s nearly grounded for various reasons, or poor dispatch reliability.

When we’ve developed solutions to these problems, our airline customers have said, "Boeing, you’re too slow to solve our problems, and when you do solve them, it’s not with us—the airlines—in mind. It would be nice if you took our inputs before you started working on the answer." This is the same comment all airplane manufacturers hear, by the way.

We have developed a solution for this: our Fleet Team® Resolution Process, or FTRP. It’s part of our Fleet Team® initiative, which we discuss in an article that appears in this issue. The FTRP is our attempt to start with a clean sheet of paper and to involve our customers heavily in the process of solving in-service problems.

The FTRP is different from our previous approach in several significant ways:

  • First, we’ve provided customers with a Web-based bulletin board for posting their in-service items. This bulletin board is password protected for each customer.
  • Second, when an operator uses the bulletin board to report a problem with a certain airplane model, all airlines who operate the same model can see the information on this problem and tell us whether they’ve experienced it, too. In some cases they have already solved the problem in their fleet or have developed a workaround that would be satisfactory to the operator who originally posted the problem. They can use the bulletin board to share their findings with all operators.
  • Third, we have discovered that solutions frequently can be developed using a means other than design changes and service bulletins. These solutions may be more practical for our customers and are almost always much quicker for them to implement. But, if the airlines agree that a design change or service bulletin is the only solution to an in-service item, they indicate this by posting their votes on the bulletin board. We then use the bulletin board to describe our preliminary design solution. The next step is for the airlines to agree on the solution among themselves. Then they need to agree with us that, if Boeing turns the solution into a service bulletin, the majority of them will implement it. This is a very important change, because our customers currently implement only about 40 percent of our service bulletins. It wastes a lot of their time, as well as ours, if both parties don’t agree that a service bulletin is the right answer.

All initial indications are that our customers are very enthusiastic about using the new FTRP approach. Anyone with comments or suggestions is welcome to call us or post an idea to the bulletin board. We’d sure like to hear your feedback.

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