Lessons in Overcoming Today’s MRO Challenges

Aircraft owners and MRO centers both face difficulties in today’s high-pressure maintenance industry. One service provider is thriving on the challenges, though. Matt Harris caught up with Central Flying Service’s David Casey to learn more...

Matt Harris  |  03rd March 2023
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    Matt Harris
    Matt Harris

    Matt Harris is Commissioning Editor for AvBuyer. He is an experienced General and Business Aviation...

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    Busy maintenance hangar at Central Flying Services

    With lengthy backlogs filling the books of aircraft MRO centers worldwide, business aircraft owners and operators are finding it difficult to locate hangar space for their maintenance needs if they’re not booking well ahead of time.

    Exacerbated by ongoing supply chain problems that make obtaining materials and parts more difficult than a year ago, and an industry-wide shortage of trained maintenance technicians to bolster busy maintenance teams, the maintenance shops need to be just as organized as their customers to manage the high-pressure bottleneck currently existing across the industry.

    In fact, with the current situation one of the biggest challenges faced by the aircraft maintenance industry is that of reputation, according to David Casey, Central Select Program Director for Central Flying Service.

    “Our industry has always been one that’s benefited from competition,” he notes. “Today’s challenges for MRO shops include providing the absolute best in quality and customer service to ensure customer loyalty – it’s a time to rise to the challenge and raise our game.” 

    Casey’s aviation career began with the US Air Force where he spent more than a decade before finding employment with Raytheon Aircraft Company and Hawker Beechcraft. He held several different positions at Raytheon/Hawker, including A&P Technician, Inspector, Customer Account and Delivery Manager, and Aftermarket Maintenance Sales.

    Moving from Hawker Beechcraft, he joined Central Flying Service (Central) as Maintenance Sales Manager and then Avionics Manager. “Being an advocate for customers in many different areas of the business has made me a perfect fit for the Central Select Program,” he says.

    “Throughout my career, I have found that working with customers is the most rewarding and satisfying part of the business,” he adds.

    Reputation and Redefinition

    At a time of big backlogs and high demand for hangar space, Central could be forgiven for ‘playing it safe’ and maintaining ‘status quo’. But then, success stories are created by those willing to redefine things and go against the flow.

    That’s exactly what Central aims to do through the launch of its Central Select program earlier this year – a core element of its effort to redefine the aircraft maintenance culture. 

    “The challenge that aircraft owners have currently is to find an MRO center that consistently meets and exceeds their needs and expectations,” Casey notes.

    “Having been in business for over 80 years, our reputation is one we take pride in. The launch of the Central Select program is the latest example of our reputation and loyalty to our customers, and its evidence that Central is committed to meeting the challenges that aircraft owners face.”

    David Casey, Central Select Program Director,
    Central Flying Service

     Those challenges are being met through a combination of clear communication, quality service and workmanship, and on-time (or sometimes early) return to service of aircraft that come into its hangars, he says, with the introduction of the Select program allowing Central to focus on being proactive, rather than reactive to customer needs.

    “By monitoring each aircraft on the Select program, we’re able to provide the customer with forecasting, budgets and maintenance planning,” he says, thus addressing the need for aircraft owners to be especially organized about their maintenance needs in the present environment.

    “We also maintain spares and rotable parts for our Select customers,” he adds. “All things combined, this ultimately reduces downtime, customer costs, and improves the overall customer experience.”

    And despite the relative newness of the Central Select program, there has been an overwhelmingly positive response from customers. When the program first launched, Casey took the time to speak to Central’s core customers, explaining the new approach to simplify their MRO needs. “Many of them have said they’re excited to know that we’re now managing their MRO needs for them.”

    With the program’s ultimate objective being to alleviate the stress of aircraft maintenance for Directors of Maintenance, pilots, and aircraft owners, “so far, Central Select has proven to be very effective,” Casey suggests.

    Asking the Right Questions

    It’s one thing to launch a new service offering, but it’s another to do so with a thorough understanding of the needs of the target customer. But according to Phil Jordan, President of Central Flying Service, asking a different question has given Central a deeper knowledge of aircraft owners’ maintenance requirements.

    In a previous interview with AvBuyer, Jordan explained that while many organizations in the industry address the ‘what?’ of aircraft maintenance – for example, what services and products they offer, or what the client is requesting – Central places heavy emphasis on the ‘why?’.

    Not only does the Central team consider the ‘why’ with aircraft maintenance directors/pilots/owners to truly understand their needs, but the team members routinely ask themselves ‘why?’.

    “For example, everyone at Central knows ‘why’ they do what they do,” Casey elaborates, “and it empowers us as a team to simplify internal and external procedures.

    “We are always looking for innovative solutions to simplify the customer’s journey. The ‘why’ culture is reflected through every Central employee and has had a very positive impact on our customers and our team.”

    Find out more about the Central Select program: www.central.aero/select, or call +1 501-975-9650

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