WORKING WEEK - THOMAS REAR

London
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What sparked your interest in business aviation?

I came to be here via a rather circuitous route. I trained as a technician on cars and spent a few years working in the motor racing industry until I moved from England to France. I spent almost eight years working within the airline industry before I made my first move into business aviation with Dassault's newly created Falcon spares department. Later, I became a customer support representative at the company-owned Falcon service centre at Paris Le Bourget.

What does your job entail?

I'm an account representative for Falcon Spare Parts, based at Le Bourget. The team consists of 13 representatives, each assigned to a region, and a dedicated customer base. I cover France, Turkey and the UK. I also have customers in Switzerland, including TAG Aviation in Geneva.

My customers include service centres and large and individual aircraft operators.

Account representatives are the first port of call for many of these companies. We process straightforward parts orders, routine and aircraft on-ground issues, deal with invoice queries, co-ordinate with our technical staff in Le Bourget or Merignac when there is a technical issue, and handle the shipment of parts - making sure they arrive with the customers on time.

What are the most challenging aspects of your job?

High-stress aircraft on ground events, notably at the weekends or late on Fridays. For most operators, an AOG situation is unacceptable. The entire company is driven to help customers wherever they are, whatever they need, whatever it takes.

Our customer base has expanded massively in recent years. We deal more and more with customers who have never operated a Falcon or in some cases a business aircraft. We ship to places that were unheard of 15 years ago.

To deliver a Honeywell avionics component from its Phoenix facility to a customer grounded in Kazakhstan, for example, takes some co-ordinating.

How does your previous experience help in your role?

General experience helps a great deal. It may sound old-fashioned, but initiative and common sense still play a big part - we often have to "guide" our customers towards the best solution.

What qualifications/skills do you need for your job?

Good communication skills are vital as well as initiative and common sense. Ability to react and think quickly, and co-ordinate - between customer, ourselves, shipper, sometimes supplier, fixed-base operation, aircrew, and so on.

What are the best things about your job?

As in any job - to get a good result. The most rewarding part, of course, is to see the affected aircraft flying again as quickly as possible and with the minimum amount of stress for all concerned.

What are the worst?

The paperwork. Also it can be frustrating getting parts to some remote destinations. Occasionally, parts can reach the country where the aircraft is based only to get stuck at customs. The handover is then delayed.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to enter the aircraft spares market?

Think "customer first". Be realistic. Don't promise what you can't deliver. Always find the best solution as quickly as possible and be prepared to go that bit further and see the job through until the aircraft is flying again.

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©Falcon 
Rear: first port of call for many customers