Pierre Beaudoin is president and COO of Bombardier Aerospace, the world’s third largest aircraft manufacturer. A grandson of the company’s founder, he has worked for the company since 1985. Liz Moscrop asks him about his visions for the future

The whole world is battling against a strong financial headwind thanks to a weak US dollar. As an industry predominantly powered by the currency, aviation is suffering. Bombardier has been hit to the tune of US$400 million. Pierre Beaudoin does not have the answers on how to steer comfortably through this worldwide economic turbulence, but he has some pertinent questions.
“What has been most difficult is the speed at which currencies vary. There is no solution to slow that down so we have to adapt. It’s a complex issue and we need open conversations about how to cope with the speed of change. We don’t want to put the burden of solving this on governments, but we would like to see politicians realise that it is a big issue and discuss with industry what we can do.”

He knows what he’s talking about. Beaudoin has been immersed in global enterprise since birth. He is the grandson of Joseph-Armand Bombardier, Bombardier’s founder, and son of Laurent Beaudoin, the company chairman. He says this is a good thing. “Having the family control the business - which is a public corporation - permits us to look long term. We can have a long-term view and invest in projects that do not always give an immediate impact, but are able to give us a strong future.”
During his time in the company, Bombardier has transited from being a US$10m to a US$16 billion revenue enterprise. Key to that success has been maintaining a strong employee base. According to Beaudoin this is not rocket science: “The main things are simple things. Be transparent. Share goals and ideas and get people excited about where we want to go, so they share the vision and, like us, want to be successful.”

He says that this transparency has helped maintain momentum with the stop-start C-series project. “The C-series is a good example of the relations we have with employees. We set a goal to expand into new business and we work as a team to get the business plan together. When we feel confident we have all the elements aligned we will launch. Our employees were not surprised when we said we were not going ahead. We needed three conditions to launch and one was not met.”
Bombardier has implemented a new employee excellence scheme with graded standards from Bronze to Diamond. In March this year 50% of staff had been certified at Bronze level. Today that figure is 78% and Beaudoin himself has just received gotten his bronze certificate, which hangs on the wall in his office.
He says: “Those that are not certified yet have been given the time to do it and engage, rather than checking a box on piece of paper. Walking the talk is the one thing that gets the employees on board. Our aerospace management committee all got certified.”

Three months after certification, employees are asked to evaluate their progress and work towards obtaining the next level, which is silver. Beaudoin is not sure  what will be in his silver package yet as the company is developing standards to work towards.

It is a good job the workforce is getting fitter. There’s a warm front gathering in Europe and the locals don’t like it. Climate issues are dominating news headlines and businesses are taking global warming seriously, which Beaudoin says affects airline buying decisions.
“Airlines want to reduce emissions and are planning their fleets in that way. This is an opportunity for us as a manufacturer. We know that it will require investment in making lighter, more fuel-efficient aircraft. Our CRJ-1000 can carry the same amount of passengers using 30% less fuel than older models. We will see aircraft such as the Q400 on routes that can be done with turboprops rather than jets. We see our product lines intermixing into airlines as they replace their fleets.”
He does not see the current shortage of carbon fibre as a huge problem.
Today carbon fibre is experiencing a poor mismatch between supply and demand, but if there is a business opportunity there someone will take it.” It is unlikely Bombardier will suffer from shortages. As someone who keeps an eye on the weather, Beaudoin will ensure his company is equipped for any eventuality.

Source: Flight Daily News