Central Select: A New Culture in Aircraft MRO

Through its new Central Select program, Central Flying Service is building a new, beneficial maintenance culture for aircraft owners. Matt Harris discovers more from Phil Jordan, the company’s CEO...

Matt Harris  |  18th January 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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    Phil Jordan, CEO of Central Flying Service

    Phil Jordan has experienced many of Business Aviation’s core sectors during a career spanning nearly 30 years.

    Having started out as a flight instructor in college, growing up as part of an entrepreneurial family, he soon realized that getting involved in the business of aviation offered more opportunity than being a pilot – so he began selling aviation insurance, before selling the aircraft themselves.

    Establishing his own aircraft brokerage in 1997, Jordan’s company grew, expanding into charter and management. Later, he bought an FBO which opened the door to the maintenance, paint, interior and avionics world.

    Today, as CEO of Central Flying Service (Central), he heads up the oldest General Aviation firm in Arkansas.

    Founded in 1939, the company primarily serves operators of Beechcraft King Air models, Beechcraft Premier I jets, Hawkers, and Cessna Citation jets (among others), in the Mississippi Delta.

    With headquarters in Little Rock, what began with Claud Holbert's passion for flying eight decades ago continues to transform the way owners and operators think about General Aviation today. In fact, the company makes some bold claims about the high standards it offers, highlighting how “great service is an art”.

    But it’s not just its own service standards that Central is looking to raise. By far its boldest claim is that the company is looking to instill a “new culture” into the business aircraft maintenance industry.

    Building a New Maintenance Culture

    As a broker, Jordan saw how the maintenance experience happens from the other side of the table, and how the shops interact with their clients. “Many MRO shop visits start with the pilot calling in for a quote. The quote is received, and the airplane is scheduled into the shop.

    “I have always asked if that process serves the client well. Does the shop know if what they have quoted is all that is needed? How does a pilot communicate with the shop about what is needed? And how do they communicate with the owner about the annual cost of operating the airplane?”

    While larger flight departments often have the advantage of a dedicated maintenance director in their employment, someone who is responsible for building a maintenance schedule and budget for their airplane or fleet, “shouldn’t a single aircraft with only one pilot have access to the same information?” Jordan asks.

    While the industry offers tracking services which can make a difference, Jordan highlights how these are not fool-proof. As thorough as a tracking system may be, it is only as good as the data inputted. In other words, there remains plenty of room for human error within a small, busy flight department in which the person responsible for inputting the data may be stretched across several roles and tasks.

    In answer to that problem, Central Flying Service has created its Central Select program, which sees Central managing the maintenance needs for the aircraft owner.

    “The major advantage to the customer is that our Central Select program yields a three-year plan that defines what the owner can expect to see in the future, and the likely timeline for each occurrence,” Jordan explains.

    Core Central clients who join the program begin their enrolment on a computerized tracking system. Then, once the personalized plan has been assembled, Central maintains the client’s aircraft data, assigning a dedicated full-time program manager to review the client’s needs on a daily basis.

    An annual maintenance budget, based on upcoming inspections and other projected maintenance needs are also generated.

    “The Central Select program is designed to offer complete projections, not just ‘flat rates’,” Jordan specifies. “We communicate this budget and the plan with the client, meeting with the flight crews and the aircraft owner (if they choose to be involved).” The advantages are clear:

    • The aircraft owner/crew has a professional organization watching out for their specific and individual needs.
    • Due to the resulting clarity over upcoming maintenance needs, and the proactive relationship between the owner/operator and Central, they can book preferred slots for scheduled maintenance events. “When the time comes for typical, normal maintenance service, Central has a slot ready for them,” Jordan highlights.
    • And should the unexpected happen, Central Select program members gain priority status with AOG drop-ins, and can access Central’s AOG mobile team in the event of a technical problem occurring on the road.

    Moreover, Jordan adds, “Central has built its own spares and rotables for core members,” helping ensure some of the delays experienced over supply chain issues that are prevalent in the wider industry are less of a problem for Central Select program members.

    On a Journey Together

    Right at the core of Central’s aim to instill a new culture in business aircraft MRO, its Central Select program is specifically developed to create a closer relationship between the aircraft owner and service provider.

    If there’s one thing Jordan’s multifaceted Business Aviation career has shown him, it’s that service goes beyond the actual maintenance event. As a matter of fact, Jordan highlights how his company’s objective is to help owners along the full life cycle of their ‘aviation journey’ from buying, through their entire ownership period, through to the eventual resale of the aircraft.

    “The aviation journey starts with the awareness of need,” he elaborates. “How will I use this airplane? How does the maintenance of the airplane align with my flying experience? Who coordinates that schedule?”

    Whether an owner has only just received their aircraft or flown it for ten or more years, their priorities are essentially the same, Jordan notes, including:

    • That the airplane is ready and available for use as much as possible
    • Reliably knowing how long the aircraft will be down for maintenance, and
    • Getting the aircraft back into service, fixed right first time.

    Answering the ‘Whys?’ of Aircraft Maintenance

    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, Jordan places heavy emphasis on the ‘Why?’.

    He argues this enables his company to address the actual, current needs of aircraft owners and operators more proactively. But if you’re going to bring a new culture into maintenance you’ll need to make sure those roots go deep – which is why the team at Central is so important.

    “The team here understands the ‘Why?’ culture,” he explains. “Each one knows why they are here, and how to be a part of our team. They also understand our core values of commitment, drive, and mastery, and how these affect their job, every day.

    “Our employees are trained and knowledgeable, they’re empowered to make decisions for the best of the company and the client. We believe this provides employees and clients alike with a path to success.

    “The client experience will be positive based on several of our goals, and that is what the client expects. Each visit by a Central Select program client, or even a new client, should end with a win-win maintenance experience,” he concludes.

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

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