New and improved model for success
Commercial Aviation Services rebuilds itself to better help customers
BY MIKE WIEGAND
For more than 65 years, Boeing Commercial Airplanes has been the leader in helping airline customers keep their airplanes in the sky, earning money.
Despite its long, strong track record, however, Boeing's Commercial Aviation Services (CAS) organization has spent the better part of this year planning and implementing sweeping changes in the way it does business. Is it a classic case of fixing what isn't broken?
Not according to CAS leader Mike Bair, executive vice president, Commercial Aviation Services.
"We've spent the past three or four years learning a lot about the aviation services market," Bair explained. "Now it's time to regroup and take advantage of what we've learned."
A major reorganization announced in March introduced a new structure - and new leadership team - to CAS. The changes are based on extensive discussions Bair and other CAS executives have had with airline customers to find out how and what CAS could do better.
Demystifying the organization
"The new structure mirrors the way most airlines are structured and operate, and is very recognizable to our customers," Bair said. CAS now comprises five businesses: Maintenance Services, Technical Services and Modifications, FlightSafetyBoeing Training International, Spares, and Flight Services.
Work that is similar or complementary has been consolidated, making it easier for customers to get what they want from a single CAS organization, while offering significant efficiencies to Boeing, Bair said.
Shrewd recruiting, savvy staffing
Reflecting the goal of being more closely attuned to the customer perspective was the selection of Lou Mancini to lead the Maintenance Services group. Mancini was hired from United Airlines in March, where he was vice president of Engineering and Technical Support.
"We believe it makes good business sense to enrich our leadership team with someone who has had direct, first-hand experience with the airline business and who can enhance our relationship with the air transport industry," Bair said. "Lou Mancini fits that description perfectly."
Similarly, four new Customer Support vice president positions were created to correspond to the four Commercial Airplanes Sales regions. A primary responsibility for the new executives will be to further CAS' global business. The closer tie with Commercial Airplanes Sales is aimed at ensuring that all potential CAS services opportunities are pursued.
Beyond 'Org Charts'
The changes at CAS go deeper than the organizational structure, however. The philosophical and strategic focus of the business has steadily been sharpened in recent years.
"This is obviously a highly competitive business, and advantages in specific products or services aren't always easy to sustain," Bair said. "But we have a significant edge that our competitors can't touch - we have the expertise. We know more about the airplanes than anyone else. This company has an innate, institutionalized knowledge of the fleet, and that's what we should focus on most in finding the best ways to help our customers."
Bair cites the fact that about 85 percent of the world's commercial jetliners are Boeing airplanes, and that for airlines, "the amount of information, of data, is overwhelming - airlines spend a significant amount of money on data."
As such, CAS has taken the industry lead in making this knowledge, information, and data more readily available in digital formats.
MyBoeingFleet.com, one of the most successful Web portals in the industry, is becoming a single point of access for obtaining virtually all of the information needed to maintain and operate Boeing jetliners.
Having reached a monthly level of nearly four million site user "hits" and 28 available products (with more planned), MyBoeingFleet.com is still growing. Other electronic tools like the Laptop Tool for pilots, the Portable Maintenance Aid, online warranty claim filing and the Global Aviation Inventory Network also have been popular with airline customers.
CAS also is continuing to pursue additional aviation services opportunities.
"Clearly we have focused on superior customer support, but if you look at the services market, it's at least as big as the new airplane market and there's room for us to grow into that market," Bair said. "Airlines spend roughly three times as much on services as airplanes, so it's not unreasonable to think that services can be a big part of our commercial market."
CAS currently does a substantial business in service areas such as airplane modifications, engineering, training and spares. Fleet management and information services offer further promise for helping airlines reduce operating costs and increase profits.
There remains a challenging customer education task ahead, however, Bair said.
"Airlines don't necessarily think of us as the first choice on some
of our offerings - in some of these areas, we're a new face in the marketplace,"
Bair said. "And we're not a low-cost provider. We want to be a high-value
provider - we want our customers to choose us because they know they can
count on us, to the point where they are willing to pay a reasonable premium
for our products and services and the ways we can help them be successful.
That's our job - we want to help our customers succeed."
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