By Rob Finfrock
CJP’s ongoing collaboration with Textron Aviation is one of the most impressive hallmarks of the organization, and this fruitful relationship has continued to grow with each successive year since CJP’s founding. The Platinum-Plus partner returned as the host for the 2016 CJP Convention in New Orleans, and the event began with presentations by Textron Aviation CEO Scott Ernest and several of his team members.
“One thing has been obvious; the only thing more important to Scott than building great jets, is building great relationships,” said CJP President Russell Boyd in introducing Ernest. “He and his team have made it abundantly clear they intend to continue building extremely good relationships with you through CJP.”
Ernest offered a detailed overview of his company’s operations, focusing on its steady progress towards growing the Citation line. That includes the recent first flight of the Citation Longitude super-midsize business jet and healthy deliveries of the smaller Citation Latitude.
“You are not only our customers; you are all shareholders in essence,” Ernest told attendees. “You own our product, and we truly appreciate that and strive to make sure we don’t ever forget that, day in and day out.”
Ernest also offered insights about Textron’s views of the global aircraft marketplace, with stable demand for light jets (CJ4 and below) and continued growth for larger aircraft such as the Citation Latitude, Longitude, and XLS, and large cabin jets like the upcoming Hemisphere.
In addition to bringing on the Beechcraft line, Ernest noted that Textron Aviation continues taking additional steps to support and grow its product offerings. That includes the recent acquisition of a cabinet manufacturer to craft specialized cabin furnishings, as well as work to maximize Textron Aviation’s product introduction timeframe, which Ernest noted is 50 percent faster than its competitors in bringing new products to the market.
Next, Textron Aviation VP for Global Customer Service Brad Thress detailed some of the ways at Textron Aviation is working to further improve the customer experience. At the top of that list is expanding the company’s global service network, particularly along the east coast of the U.S. with the addition of five new MSUs (mobile service units) by the end of 2016.
The company also maintains three Air Rescue Team (ART) aircraft in the U.S, and two more in Europe. Thress noted the ART fleet “usually fly a couple of times a day, we’ve already flown 260 missions year-to-date.”
Another ongoing program is Textron’s work to improve the transparency of the service and maintenance experience. That includes a heavily-revised customer portal allowing clients to review, discuss, and approve squawks – with those approvals or questions immediately routed to the necessary parts support and maintenance personnel – as well as significant behind-the-scenes revamps to the IT process aimed at more accurate service invoices.
“You are our biggest single customer advocacy group, and it’s critically important that we spend time with you and gather your feedback,” Thress told the CJP membership. “Starting the end of the year, we will give you an accurate invoice when we release the airplane to you, with the opportunity for you to review it and discuss any changes you see that need to made.”
Textron Aviation VP for Pre-Owned Aircraft Steve Schatzman also offered an overview of the company’s pre-owned sales program. “Our goal is get the maximum value for your aircraft, and to lead you to buy a new airplane,” he said, adding that Textron’s new Aircraft Valuator Tool provides extensive market information on your current aircraft, as well as market value, based on the extensive scope of data available to Textron Aviation as the OEM.
“We have a ton of data, and we’re use this information with a dedicated research team to provide you with an accurate view of what the market is doing, and what the market price is for your aircraft. We’re not going to give you information just to get your aircraft listed [with us.]”
Kriya Shortt, Textron Aviation’s Sr. Vice President Sales & Marketing, built on that theme in unveiling to the company’s newly-revamped customer portal at https://ww2.txtav.com aimed at improved customer understanding of the service process, including detailed information about the status of the repair process and the aforementioned squawks process.
“I wanted to start out by saying thank you,” Shortt added. “It’s a unique privilege for us to share the partnership and relationship we do, collectively through CJP, as well as individually with you. We are working to make sure we continue to provide value to you as our customers, and you are at the core of everything we do as a company.”
Boyd added that these efforts signify how responsive Textron Aviation has been to CJP members’ feedback and concerns. “Over the last couple of years, when I think back to every serious conversation Scott and I have had, they’ve always ended the same way,” he concluded. “Scott shakes my hand, and says ‘if there’s anything else Textron can do for CJP, just let me know.'”