Spirit AeroSystems is highlighting its aftermarket, support and service business at its exhibit this week at the Farnborough International Airshow outside London.
It’s a business that Spirit has big plans to grow.
Spirit recently hired Bill Brown, a former Beechcraft executive, as its senior vice president for global customer support and services.
Most recently Brown led Beechcraft’s global operations. He previously had served as the company’s president of global customer service and support.
Brown, who got his start in the aviation business as an American Airlines mechanic and is a pilot, is at home in his new position.
Today, Spirit’s service and support business is a small portion of the company.
“We do a pretty good job of that, but we could do it much better,” Brown said during an interview at Spirit’s booth at the show.
His goal is to grow that portion of the business 200 percent to 300 percent in the next five to 10 years.
Brown is working on a growth plan now.
“We’re looking at what our customers would like us to do so they can have a one-stop shop,” Brown said.
Spirit builds portions of every Boeing and Airbus commercial airliner and portions of aircraft for other customers.
It also works with customers with research, engineering drawings, warranties and other issues.
Now, it wants to work with airlines to get a list of their airplanes’ scheduled maintenance times and the replacement parts they will need.
That way, Spirit can have the parts ready. Spirit also has plans to install a system so customers can order parts online plus have support by phone.
At Beechcraft, 90 percent of its customer aftermarket orders were through the Internet, Brown said.
At Spirit, the figure is less than 10 percent.
“We should be at 90 percent,” Brown said.
“We’re too slow today,” Brown said. “We’ve got to be more agile and have a lot of rigor – attention to detail.”
Because it’s a global business, the company will add support locations outside the U.S. to better take care of customers.
“No one knows our products better than we do,” Brown said. “Who better to go develop repairs?”
Spirit has allowed its competitors to support its customers.
“They’ve designed repairs to sell to the airlines to repair our parts that we should have developed,” Brown said. “We have the engineering capability to do that.”
It also already has the tooling.
Spirit also could build spares of parts on airplanes it currently doesn’t make.
Boeing is supportive of the initiative, Brown said.
So is Spirit CEO Larry Lawson, who is ready to make the big investment necessary to grow the aftermarket business, Brown said.
Brown wants customers to want Spirit’s products because of the support they receive after.
“It’s about taking care of the customer,” Brown said. “It’s going to be a lot of fun.”