February 2006 
Volume 04, Issue 9 
Commercial Airplanes

Always here for you

Always here for you

New Ops Center in Seattle set to support urgent airline needs


As with the beginning of many significant endeavors, the Boeing Commercial Airplanes Operations Center had a rather inauspicious start. In fact, Bob Manelski, director of the new, around-the-clock center, described opening day—Dec. 9, 2005—as "the perfect storm."

"We faced challenges with last-minute painting, carpet laying, systems testing, a large queue of work, the occupancy permit, information technology and phone systems, and a major airline incident," Manelski said. "I'm pleased to say that it's been getting better ever since."

The Ops Center gives Boeing an improved facility to provide round-the-clock customer support to Boeing airplane operators worldwide. It also shows how Boeing provides customers with a level of support that matches the high quality of its airplanes. That service gives Boeing an advantage in the competitive jetliner market.

Despite opening-day glitches, it quickly became clear that this new facility would be something special. "This rivals the best operations centers I've ever seen," said Lou Mancini, leader of Commercial Aviation Services. "It's one of the best physical and technical layouts in the marketplace."

Mancini, who announced plans for the center last February, should know. The CAS vice president/general manager held senior engineering and maintenance positions with United and Northwest airlines before joining Boeing in 2002. Operations or control centers are common in the airline industry, providing a single place to monitor the fleet, weather conditions and overall operational status.

"This is absolutely the standard for the world," Peter Weertman, vice president of Technical Customer Support, told staffers on opening day. He noted the significant investment in the center reflects the company's commitment to customers and to being No. 1 in customer support.

The origins of the Operations Center began in July 1999 with the formation of the Rapid Response Center, which provided commercial airplane operators with off-hours support. The RRC primarily assisted airline customers with "airplane on ground" situations—instances when an airplane is unexpectedly removed from service because of a problem with its systems or structure. While most AOGs involve a minor technical problem or structural damage, such incidents can have major costs ranging from an estimated $10,000 to $150,000, depending on the airplane model and airline.

The new Operations Center builds upon the success and experience of the RRC and delivers an even more comprehensive and integrated response to urgent airline issues, including structures, systems, spares (Material Management) and maintenance needs.

Customers already are sending kudos to the center's five shifts of employees. Manelski attributes the positive feedback to those at CAS who contributed expertise up front as well as the entire CAS team, which is ready to partner with the Ops Center on a moment's notice to support customer needs.

"The constructive feedback from CAS teammates has really been helpful," Manelski said. The center's early performance metrics show that 82 percent of the jobs coming into the center meet customer demands. "And we're working to improve that," he said.

"I was so excited about coming here," said Al Mazzocco, a 40-year industry veteran who recently left an airline maintenance operations management job to join the Ops Center team. "This is going to help us sell more airplanes."


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