Olivier Froment joined Dassault Aviation in 2000 to help Falcon customer services develop a flight operations support unit. Today, with a Falcon 2000 type rating under his belt, he is a demonstration and support pilot

What sparked your interest in aviation?

I think it is a sum of different experiences since I was a kid. Family stories of the Second World War, growing up very close to the Aermacchi facility in northern Italy, models, aviation books and comics, a glider, then a para-glider flight. At some stage it became obvious to me.

What type of challenges do you face when working?

Trying to demonstrate the extraordinary capabilities of Falcon business jets to our future customers. In my role I have to transfer most of the knowledge of the design office to our customers to help them to operate their aircraft safely and efficiently. I am also required to listen and collect feedback on our aircraft, which helps Dassault to enhance its product offerings - from documentation to the aircraft itself.

I am the interface between the customer and the back office.

How is your earlier experience helping in your job today?

My previous experience as an engineer, combined with some pilot experience, certainly eases the understanding of operational needs and their translation into documentation and customer training and/or proposals for design changes.

Most of these changes involve system engineering or certification issues, they require a better in-depth technical knowledge.

What qualifications/skills do you need for your job?

High commitment and good communication skills to accommodate the international and multicultural environment that we operate in.

Team spirit is vital too! Although we are a small family together with flight attendants, maintenance engineers and flight dispatchers, all of our missions require co-ordination well beyond the aircraft's limits.

What does your job entail?

The job includes ground and flight activities on a 50/50 basis. Flights are operated from Le Bourget, while most of the ground work is performed in the St. Cloud headquarters or on the road. For all our ground tasks, every pilot of the team is attached to an engineer (or former pilot) and together we are in charge of training specifications and auditing, writing operational manuals and memos, providing the design teams with operational expertise and feedback.

For instance, on the 7X programme, we trained the first instructors, participated in writing the documentation, but also reviewed certain design features such as controls and indications.

Flight activities are demonstration and training flights, simulator training and checkrides.

What are the best things about your job?

No routine guaranteed! Flight activities extend all over the world (well almost) and encompass so much variety that it is simply impossible to get bored.

Great encounters, great people, great places. We have unique opportunities to meet fantastic people, from the moment they are prospective customers, and with all their operational teams - pilots, flight attendants, dispatchers and the maintenance engineers who take care of these beautiful birds - we share some great moments we will long remember.

Does flying still excite you?

It's an addiction. Especially when you can enjoy aircraft with such superb handling qualities.

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Source: Flight International