Brian Rohloff, senior vice president of customer support, shares how Textron Aviation has been responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, including new services it has introduced
Have you been able to stay open and offer your full array of services throughout the COVID-19 pandemic?
Textron Aviation is well-prepared to handle this period of uncertainty. We are continuing to serve our Beechcraft, Cessna and Hawker customers at all global locations for a variety of aircraft maintenance inspections, parts, modifications and more. Whether they’re currently flying or completing service work during an unexpected pause in travel, we’re here to support them.
We are confident in the actions we are taking during this downturn and we expect them to position us for success as we begin to exit this global shutdown. We are making proactive decisions that focus our resources, care and concern on our workforce and our customers during this unprecedented time. The force of this virus will subside, and the economy will recover. When it does, Beechcraft and Cessna will be here, persevering like we have for more than nine decades, and ready to serve our customers and communities with pride.
What new operational procedures have you implemented?
In response to the pandemic, the company has been taking increased action with measures such as limiting large group meetings; increasing daily cleaning of facilities and aircraft; restricting travel; cancelling our participation in many global meetings and events; implementing visitor screening forms; implementing an employee return-to-work process; and enforcing social distancing measures where possible.
We are also educating our employees on how to recognise and monitor COVID-19 symptoms, and encouraging them that if they feel ill for any reason, to stay home and limit their exposure to others.
Can you detail your new ClearCabin service?
Available at all domestic Textron Aviation service centres, following disinfection, the company can apply an antimicrobial barrier treatment called ClearCabin to prevent various germs from living on the treated surface for more than 30 days. ClearCabin is an odourless antimicrobial solution that acts as a protective barrier on treated surfaces. The product is used in various settings, including hospitals, commercial buildings and hotels.
What other new services are you offering?
We launched a new aftermarket financing programme to make it more flexible than ever for customers to book an upgrade or modification at one of our company-owned service centres.
Are you exploring any other cabin technologies and approaches?
At a time when health, safety and sanitation are so important, aircraft owners and operators want to know what’s inside their aircraft – including the air they breathe. Textron Aviation is educating its customers about terminology and assisting in understanding different air filtration systems in their aircraft. Determining which system best suits a user is based on personal preference – no system is proven to be more effective than another. Therefore, understanding the customer mission and which aircraft best suits the customers’ needs is important.
Beechcraft, Cessna and Hawker aircraft have a range of air filtration systems, including fresh air systems that focus on circulating fresh air from outside the aircraft into the cabin; partial recirculation systems that reuse a percentage of air from the cabin in addition to fresh air; and lastly, ionisation systems that include a component mounted onto the air duct to remove germs and viruses present in the cabin electronically.
Also, we’ve proactively recommended specific disinfection products for our customers based on interior materials testing by the company’s engineering team.
How has demand been impacted in terms of work volume? Are customers using aircraft downtime to get work done, or are they delaying work?
Textron Aviation is encouraging customers to use this downtime to prepare their aircraft to re-enter service. The new aftermarket financing options give our customers the flexibility to leverage unexpected changes in their travel schedule.
As areas of the globe begin to reopen, our service centres and mobile service units are ready to support our customers in taking their aircraft out of preservation and getting back in the air.
Which services, interior equipment and materials are in demand? Is there increased demand for more flexible seating configurations and mission capabilities?
We are focused on supporting our Beechcraft, Cessna and Hawker customers however they need, while grounded and as they begin flying again. Throughout the global shutdowns, we maintained normal operations at all our facilities to service customers with planned maintenance and those who decided to take advantage of their downtime for upgrades. Many customers leveraged this time for interior refurbishments, and to upgrade avionics, wi-fi, cabin entertainment systems and LED lighting.
With the evolving complexity of the current environment, Beechcraft, Cessna and Hawker products are well suited to serve the various missions of our customers, including a variety of configurations, mission capabilities and optional equipment.
Do you plan to make any further adjustments to your operations in light of changes in demand?
We are continuously monitoring and adjusting based on the needs of our customers. Extensive safety and cleaning protocols are in place to protect our customers and employees. Beechcraft and Cessna remain focused on continuing to support our customers with best-in-class aircraft and services during this time.
What are the key lessons learned from this time?
We’re always considering the best way to serve our customers. Efficient scheduling and flexible options – via service centres, Go Teams or mobile service units – are more important than ever to support our customers wherever they are in the world and as their unique situation changes daily.
With the broad range of services and product offerings that Beechcraft and Cessna has to offer, we are encouraged by what the future holds as we begin to emerge from this global shutdown.
Has your company been involved in community support projects in response to COVID-19?
Textron Aviation joined a coalition of businesses and government partners, the Ad Astra Coalition, to answer some of the challenges being created in Wichita and Kansas by the COVID-19 pandemic. Beechcraft and Cessna also produced plastic face shields and cloth face masks to be provided to the medical community, first responders and its employees. To date, Beechcraft and Cessna has donated roughly 7,500 N95 face masks and additional PPE equipment to the medical community.