In the competitive world of business aviation, selling new aircraft is everything. However, Bombardier knows that once a jet is delivered, owners still have a choice on where to service their aircraft. That is why it has been focusing on looking after those who have bought Global, Challenger and Learjet aircraft – investing in technology and people, as well as bricks and mortar, and in the process transforming its entire customer care ethos.
“We realized effortless service is something customers want,” says Vice-President Customer Support Anthony Cox of the approach. “First of all, we built the airplane, so we’re the experts. We have all the supporting data. But it’s about more than that. Delighting the customer is our credo. We are all about being a customer-centric organization.”
The company’s philosophy has been to make owning and operating a Bombardier aircraft as straightforward and hassle-free as possible. This ranges from equipping its jets with predictive maintenance software to rolling out an all-inclusive, one-price, hourly parts and maintenance programme.
Additionally, Bombardier has brought its highly-trained technicians closer to the customer, whether for an urgent response to an AOG (aircraft on ground) event via its extensive network of mobile units, or a scheduled service at one of 10 impressive company-branded service facilities – including its new and refurbished locations in London Biggin Hill, Miami Opa Locka, Melbourne (Australia), Singapore and, shortly, Abu Dhabi.
Technological advances include Smart Link Plus, Bombardier’s cloud-based aircraft health management programme that provides owners with instant insights into the performance of their aircraft. Introduced on the Global 7500 business jet, it is now available as standard in most other new-build aircraft or as a retrofit across almost the entire Global and Challenger fleet.
A GE-supplied box collects data during the flight, transmitting it in real time via an in-flight internet connection or through the cellular network after landing. Cox describes the AI-based technology as “an amazing evolution” that allows operators to foresee and diagnose issues before they become problems, cutting potential maintenance bills.
Another recent offering is Smart Services Elite, a turnkey maintenance programme that covers under a single per-hour bill virtually every one-off cost an operator might incur, from scheduled parts and labour to an AOG. An enhancement of the original Smart Services programme introduced back in the 1980s, it provides operators with the ultimate peace of mind when it comes to maintenance costs.
Parts supply is a further area where Bombardier operators can sleep soundly. The pandemic and its aftermath caused industry-wide shortages and delays in the delivery of components both for production lines and the aftermarket. Bombardier has taken a proactive approach to identify and address possible supply hitches before they escalate, as well as boosting its inventory.
Unforeseen incidents can affect even the most reliable business jets – and they can happen when a jet is hundreds of kilometres from home. That is why Bombardier has been ramping up its Mobile Response Team (MRT), who work with a 24/7 customer response centre to ensure that any AOG is dealt with swiftly.
The newly expanded MRT comprises technicians who run a fleet of 34 vehicles across North America, Europe and the Middle East. In 2022 alone, they supported 2,738 events, helping operators get on their way quickly and without fuss. “They serve our customers in their moment of most need,” says Cox.
And for scheduled maintenance there are now more factory-owned service centres than ever, with the last 18 months seeing the opening of a new, larger hangar at London Biggin Hill, a new service facility in Australia for the first time, new facilities in Singapore and Miami and plans to enhance the network in the Middle East. The showpiece site at Abu Dhabi International Airport is due to open in 2025.
Cox acknowledges there are independent MROs qualified to work on Bombardier jets. However, they cannot provide the breadth, quality, and consistency of service Bombardier can. “If you go to a third-party, you may have a good one-off experience, but will you get it again and again?” he asks. “Customers can have comfort knowing the OEM will always have the resources to support them.”
Bombardier provides customers with several competitive advantages including access to proprietary engineering and fleet data that helps it better service and troubleshoot aircraft – and the fact its technicians have expertise gleaned from solely working on Bombardier jets. In fact, its technicians annually accumulate more than two million hours servicing Bombardier jets throughout its service centre network.
Underpinning all these initiatives is what Cox calls Bombardier’s “credo – the rules that we live by.” The credo promises a “customer-centric behaviour at each touch point” and a “dedication to the exceptional care of our customers”, with “every interaction an opportunity to build their trust and delight them.”
As Cox explains: “Our belief is that if we take care of our customers, our customers will take care of us. We will bring revenue into our service network, but we will also ensure that our customers keep coming back to Bombardier to renew their aircraft.” Each of Bombardier’s 3,000 customer experience team members has been “empowered to be a difference-maker,” he says.
He wants customers to be open. “Tell us about your front-line experiences with Bombardier and how we created signature moments that both surprised and pleased you,” he says. “If there was an issue, we want to hear your thoughts on why it occurred and how we can mitigate similar situations in the future.”
With more than 5,000 Bombardier business aircraft in service, the company has a lot of people to please, but Cox is confident that the “delight the customer at every opportunity” message is getting through. “As they say, choosing a new aircraft is like a romance,” he remarks. “Owning it is a long-term marriage. Our job is to ensure that the marriage bond is never broken.”