Last month, I spoke with general manager Sean Peterson to discuss our progress as the Northeast Embraer service center. I continued my conversation with Sean to discuss some of the accomplishments the service center has achieved, as well as where we stand with some key inspections and pre-purchase evaluations. Additionally, I wanted to know what steps the service center is taking to prepare for further growth in the months and years to come.
The first topic of discussion centered around the pre-purchase. “We’ve somewhat changed our approach to pre-purchases,” Sean told me, “We actually have created a tier system now.” The tier system is broken into three levels, each more thorough than the last. The first tier is equivalent to a walkaround inspection. It includes an analysis of the exterior and interior of the plane without removing panels or opening hatches. Accompanying every tier is an aircraft records review to determine the current status of aircraft maintenance. By the time we get to a tier 3 pre-purchase evaluation, Sean explained that you are now looking at a much more intensive inspection. This tier is akin to an annual, where panels will be taken off the plane, corrosion inspections become much more involved, and engine and performance runs may be enacted. In addition, this tier includes the completion of the corresponding 12-, 24-, and 36-month inspection.
These tiers were put in place to help customers get an evaluation that is personally tailored to their aircraft. Even with the tiers in place, Sean explained that “we’re also open to customers defining what their pre-purchase inspection is. We’re happy to facilitate whatever they feel is necessary. Since pre-purchases aren’t regulatory, it’s not like we have to follow a 12-month inspection or 24-month inspection, there’s no criteria for that.”
This is why, in addition to these tiers, there are many ‘a la carte’ options that customers can add to their evaluation of the interior and exterior of their aircraft. These include: fuel leak checks, belly hydraulic review, operational check of exterior lighting as well as cockpit and cabin lighting, and inspection of aircraft windows and windshields. These options help to ensure that the customer can personalize their evaluation to their specific needs and interests. Sean told me that this system helps to allow the customer to make informed decisions about the future of their airplane. “We just give options. We provide the customer [with] the information they need to make a decision, whether something’s going to impact downtime or overall cost. But it’s never going to be to benefit us as the primary focus. It’s going to be to benefit the customer.”
As the Northeast Embraer service center, we have now accomplished every possible inspection for the Phenom. Sean shared the sense of accomplishment he feels for the milestone they have reached: “We’ve basically done every inspection interval that the Phenom would have come into in the year and a half that we’ve been open. We’ve done everything from a 12-month to a 120-month.” Looking forward, Sean explained his plans to expand the growth of the Embraer service center. “Right now, we’re still actively hiring A & P mechanics, and our goal is to create a shift structure that would support 7 days a week. Maybe not 24 hours a day, but at least 7 days a week so that we have follow-through and airplanes [are] not just sitting for two days every week.” While Sean believes that they have been able to compete at a high level with other service centers, he understands that they “could further compete from a downtime perspective with a weekend shift, or some version of a four-day work week that spans the weekend.” This plan, however, takes a lot of manpower. “You have to have a certain level of technicians to be able to support splitting shifts like that, so our goal is to continue to search for talent and keep bringing on people.”
Last year, the Embraer service center saw great heights. With multiple completed 120-month inspections and an updated pre-purchase evaluation system, we have already taken a number of steps to improve our relationship with the customer. But, as Sean made clear to me, we are far from done. In the years to come, the service center seeks to make substantial changes to their technical support to decrease the turnaround time for aircraft. With two years of experience in the books, and Sean’s additional years of experience at Bradley, the Embraer service center is on a path to flourish.