Pierre G. Côté was appointed president of Bombardier Business Aircraft last July and is on his first round of airshows. Before joining the company, he had extensive expertise in the paper industry. He is an engineer and a licensed private pilot. He talks to Liz Moscrop

You had a lot of success in your previous role. How did you feel joining a different industry?
It’s a steep learning curve. I’m ten months into my first cycle of shows and exhibitions and I want to ensure I’m meeting everybody. I am bringing the extensive business experience I already have to the industry.

How is Bombardier Business Aircraft faring in the market place?
The overall market continues to be strong. We had 274 orders in 2007, up from 219 last year, 60% of which have come from international markets.  We have the most complete portfolio of products in the industry and cover 97% of the market. Last year was a record delivery year for us, up from our past record of 203, which was just before 9/11.

How about your order backlogs?
We are working on reducing our backlogs. The Learjet family is currently 11 months and our target is six-nine months. The Challenger line stands at 14 months and we’d like to see that go down to between nine to twelve months. The Global is at 24 months, which we’d like to reduce to between 12-18 months.

How important is customer service ?
It is vital. We have just introduced a new customer service innovation. There is now only one number to call for our new customer response centres in Montreal and Wichita. Customers can reach us 24/7, seven days a week and we connect them to the right person to get their aircraft flying again. We are also the only business aircraft manufacturer to provide pilot training, in partnership with CAE. We were the pioneer in tools to control flight operations budgets and we are the only manufacturer that can dispatch multiple aircraft to deliver parts in AOG. We also established our Safety Standdown seminars to improve skill and knowledge based training.

Are we likely to see any new aircraft announcements from Bombardier in the near future?
That is always a possibility. We’re happy with the way things are. The first delivery of the Learjet 60XR is expected this spring. The Challenger product line is doing well, the 605 has been a great success for us and saw its first delivery in January. The Global is still the flagship in its category and we will enhance it to further improve its quiet ride and exceptional performance qualities.

How has your own flying impacted your role?
I’m very interested in aviation and am working with the best products in the world. I’ve been too busy to have a go on the simulators at CAE, but I’m looking forward to having that opportunity!

Source: Flight Daily News