The Boeing commitment to fleet support has never been more critical than it is today. The industry is booming; our customers cannot afford to have airplanes out of service because of mechanical problems. All technical concerns must be addressed quickly. If an airplane is not available when needed, revenue and profits are lost.

Nowhere in Boeing Customer Services is that pressure felt more, or the will to consistently overcome it stronger, than among the people of Service Engineering. We are the focal point for the more than 200,000 technical queries Boeing receives each year. It is our job to provide rapid responses to operators' urgent requests. When our in-service fleet grew with the addition of Douglas models, so did our numbers of technical and airline support specialists. At last count, there were 535 of us -- about 400 in Seattle, Washington, and 135 in Long Beach, California.

As we announced in March, our Long Beach unit will begin moving to Seattle. We will ensure that uninterrupted support will continue for our Douglas models during this transitional period. Most of us are specialists in the Technical Support group. We develop responses to incoming operator queries. If needed, we can request assistance from the design engineering organization. We help resolve problems, participate on design teams for new and derivative airplanes as advocates for our customers, and provide on-site technical assistance and AOG support as needed.

The rest of us work in Fleet Support and focus on in-service airplanes by model, both current and out of production. Fleet Support is home to our Fleet Chiefs, the senior managers who are "champions" for their particular model and who direct in-service improvements and enhancements to improve reliability for all Boeing and Douglas models. Fleet Support is also where the Airline Support engineers -- the "inside" counterparts to the Boeing Field Service representatives -- reside. They provide one-stop access into Boeing for our field reps as well as serving as the internal advocate for their customers. The group also includes our chief mechanics, our consultants on practicality of design and maintainability. Since our customers work around the clock and in many time zones, Service Engineering is a 24-hour operation. We have had an all-hours technical assistance desk in Seattle and Long Beach for some time, staffed by service engineers. Consistent with our goal to maintain a global support network, we now have permanent staff for those desks to provide around-the-clock coverage. We also have one telephone number for 24-hour support that quickly puts customers in contact with the responsible technical expert for each model of in-service airplanes. (The Field Service listing in the back of the magazine includes these numbers.)

Speaking of the telephone, customers can expect theirs to ring more often when they are working with us to resolve an urgent concern. While Boecom telex messages are still the backbone for communicating and tracking our customer responses, Service Engineering will frequently supplement telexes with personal contact when the matter is urgent or when we need to further understand an issue in order to provide the correct response. We know that an operator's success -- and ultimately our own -- depends on keeping the combined Boeing fleet in service and generating revenue.

Fleet support is a major effort, particularly when it deals with the world's largest fleet, but it is one that we welcome. It is a privilege that comes with working with our customers to sustain our mutual success in the marketplace. We intend to keep it that way.

John Banbury
Director - Service Engineering
Boeing Commercial
Airplane Group

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