| The Journal de l'Aviation met Johann C. Bordais, CEO & President of Embraer's new Global Services & Support business unit at MRO Americas in Orlando in late April. This new business unit is dedicated to Services and Support, bringing together capabilities that were until now spread throughout the different activities of the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer. Interview.
How was born the Services & Support activity at Embraer ?
This is something we have been doing for a very long time, probably one of the longest for an OEM nowadays. We have started twenty years ago, doing it even before, but we went global when the ERJ 145 entered service. A couple of weeks ago, we were celebrating in Rio the 20th anniversary of operation of the ERJ 145, witch obviously was the big boom for Embraer and really launched our international footprint.
Twenty years ago, when potential customers were looking at the specs of our aircraft, they were saying : 'wow, that's really a nice airplane, that's exactly what i need but I've got a problem, you're located in Brazil and I don't want to be supported from Brazil, 9.000 kilometers away, I need you to be close to me'. And that's exactly what happened with each region where we were selling the airplane, massively investing in customer support around the world.
We perceived that it was something we had to do to sell the airplane. Over the years, we managed to get a strong experience on the customer support and services, being local, as I like to say. Our first site to open was in Fort Lauderdale, in Florida, then Paris, during a Paris Air Show with Charles Hernu inaugurating the site, and at the same time signing the contract for the Xingu for the French Air Force, back in 1983. Our first building at Le Bourget is currently the one used by our Executive Jet Service Center. Afterward, we opened also in China, Singapore, and spreading... And every time, we would just massively have a team of experts in customer support, composed in customer account managers, tech reps (technical representatives), spare parts representatives, a full logistic and warehouse network, MROs also, whether Embraer owned or from our approved service network. For example, today, for the commercial aviation, we are talking about 9 authorized service centers and 2 Embraer owned service centers. We have also some independent MROs, of course. On the Executive Jets side, we have 78 service centers around the world, with six owned, and of which one is at Le Bourget doing base maintenance and line maintenance for the Embraer Executive Jets's portfolio.
It is also nice to recognize that Embraer is the only OEM in the world that has the 3 segments: defense, executive and commercial aviation dedicated portfolios. The others may have one or two, but none has the complete three with dedicated products. So product support and making support, this whole product life-cycle management is an expertise of Embraer. Mind you, over the last 14 years, we've launched 13 programs. That's almost one program per year; no other OEM has done that! But along with these products, we have a strong Customer Support & Services, dedicated to each of the three business units.
Why did you decide to create a distinct business unit dedicated to Services and Support?
Well, that was a major investment that was needed to be. A first thing that we wanted was to have the best product with the best customer support, and you can do this if you dedicate yours programs, and your teams, on the customer support. That's why we had triplicated teams for the customer support. When you reach the top level on customer satisfaction, which is the case for the Embraer Commercial Aviation and also on the Executive Jets, this is an achievement, this has been a huge investment.
We provide full solutions, it is not only about making a product and operate a product, no, it needs to be along the life-cycle of operation of the airlines. And this is the DNA of Embraer, a perfect product with an excellence in customer experience. This is what we do.
So we put things together. Let's be efficient! So, that's why we created this new business unit because it's official: Customer Support & Services is a core business, we have a know-how that we believe, is a competitive advantage. We are proud of it and we continue to focus on these activities.
What are the main challenges you are facing with the switch from the E1 to the E2 family?
The first E-Jet family has flown more than 17 million hours with more than 70 customers. It has been a major success. After 13 years of operation, the E190 has a dispatch reliability of 99.62%, that's huge! It's a very mature platform and a money maker for the airlines. The challenge now, when we consider that 60% of the customers of the E2 are already operator of the E1 family, is that the expectation in customer support is very high. They would not accept a brand new airplane if it isn't as mature as the E1.
That's why we asked Embraer engineering, since the first drawing, and even before, to design the E2, not only for the first delivery in 12 months from now, but to design it for operations, for the customers. We brought more than 1000 requirements to the engineers coming from the experience of the E1, but also from other programs we developed. We talked a lot with customers to embed all those improvements into the E2 family. We've reached more than 100 engineers specialized in customer support, designing the airplane from a customer support point of view. A dedicated team, segregated from the current Embraer product support team, is ensuring that the aircraft is mature before the first delivery to Widerøe in Norway in the first semester of 2018.
We made three promises to the market back in 2013: we will deliver on time, within the budget and on specs. Since then, every milestone has been complied with. No other manufacturer has done this. And it's not enough; we are promising one more thing, which I believe is the most important, the commitment that the aircraft will reach a dispatch reliability were it should be: 99% after 12 months of operation. That's what we are promising! Five prototypes are now flying, four E190-E2 and one E195-E2. They have flown more than 650 hours. We are on time.
When we launched the E2 family at the Paris Air Show, it was seen like a simple re-engined version, an improved version of the first generation of the E-Jet family. But we are way more than this: 75% is actually new on the airplane if we compare the E1 and the E2. Everything is better, we kept only what was already better than in any other machine. So it's a brand new airplane, with dedicated wings for each family member, a new engine and new systems.
A new market has been emerging with the arrival of the E2, the redelivery of aircraft by lessors. Is this activity very important for Embraer?
Absolutely! I use do say to my friend John Slattery, the President & CEO of Embraer Commercial Aviation, that we have two production lines that we have to take care of, the one in São José dos Campos for the brand new airplanes and the one in the world as there are hundreds of E-Jets that are transiting from one operator to another through the leasing companies. And it takes energy, it takes dedicated focus because the needs and requirements of the new customer may be different. What we do also on a constant basis is record tracking because it is very important when the airplane is returning to the lessor. What they want is a cheap transfer, and they want it fast!
This is a specific requirement that we have been developing expertise. If we look at the E-Jet family nowadays, more than 40% is owned by leasing companies. So we have developed a dedicated team focused on "aircraft enhancements" as we call it. In the new business unit focused on services and customer support we are creating, we are putting all the products and platforms under one team of aircraft enhancements. That's true for the Lineage, the Phenom and for the E-Jets... This market is very important for us.