Air Transport World

Maintenance as marketing tool: regional jet makes stake out a place in maintenance aftermarket to support customers, new sales. (M & E).

Full-service maintenance, repair and overhaul has become the marketing mantra for Bombardier: In order to sell aircraft, you have to sell support. That's what the regional jet manufacturer is offering along with its popular CRJ and FlexJet aircraft.

"[Customers] are looking to the aircraft manufacturer and others to provide more comprehensive conventional support services, as well as access to new services such as overnight line maintenance and heavy maintenance," says VP-Customer Service Jeff Mihalic. "Regional airlines don't have and can't afford the depth of resources existing at their big airline counterparts.

To meet the needs of an ever-growing fleet of CRJs, Bombardier has set out to establish itself as the premier provider of heavy airframe maintenance, a move that is an integral part of the company's overall RJ marketing program. It has established its West Virginia Air Center here to provide maintenance support services to the North American CRJ fleet. More than 700 CRJs have been delivered with many more to come.

The air center, nestled in the green mountains of this rural community, began as a privately owned and operated maintenance shop in 1991. Bombardier acquired the business in 1994 when the local owners decided to sell. At that time, the facility was used to remanufacture Shorts C-23Bs for military use. In 1998 the military work was supplanted by heavy maintenance checks for Comair. Business has been growing ever since.

"We wanted to provide a full package of service for our customers," says Mihalic. "Obviously the key to that is to have a service center that can perform heavy maintenance for our customers. …

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