Cessna Aircraft is ramping up its customer support operation in Europe in an effort to bring parts availability into line with response times enjoyed by US-based Citation operators.

"We think that the European customer base deserves the same overnight availability of aircraft-on-ground spares that anyone else in the world gets," said Brad Thress, Cessna senior vice-president customer service. "Doing it out of Wichita just doesn't get the job done, frankly. We need think a little more local-global, so to speak," he added.

Cessna is announcing at the show that its Paris support facility is open "24/7", servicing the needs of customers at Le Bourget airport, the most popular location in Europe for Citation business jet operations.

Between 2004 and 2008 Citation production rates were at a high level and a large proportion of aircraft that went overseas were delivered to Europe, said Thress. There are nearly 1,300 Citations in operation in Europe and there is now a need to expand service capability.

"That's the direction that we're heading," said Thress.

A line maintenance facility was opened in Prague earlier this year, as a joint operation with Cessna sister company Bell Helicopter. Meanwhile, the inventory of parts at the company's Amsterdam Schiphol airport facility is being doubled.

"Our biggest initiative is our biggest service centre in Europe, in Valencia," said Thress. "We broke ground on that in January.

For Valencia, 17 technicians are in ground school and due to complete their courses in June. They will then receive hands-on training in the USA before they go back to Valencia for the "grand opening" next year.

Aftermarket support is becoming a bigger part of Cessna's business. Before the downturn, almost 500 Citations were being delivered each year, but that figure has fallen to around 200.

Cessna deployed its first European Mercedes truck-based mobile service unit to Paris in January, and the vehicle has been driven to Geneva to coincide with EBACE. The truck is equipped with a ground power unit, hydraulic mules, lift, hand tools and a stock of common parts.

Source: Flight Daily News