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28 September 2011

Flybe's CEO makes impact at prestigious global aviation forum

Leading regional airline's boss is keynote speaker at world's largest Maintenance Repair and Operations' conference in Madrid

Flybe’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Jim French CBE is heading up an impressive list of aviation industry experts today as the invited keynote speaker at the 2011 MRO Europe conference and exhibition in Madrid.  The forum is organised by the US-published Aviation Week magazine that last year bestowed on him the Laureate Award in the Commercial Air Transport category.

MRO Europe, now in its 14th year, is the largest aircraft maintenance repair and operations’ conference and exhibition in the world, attracting up to 3,500 attendees each year.  This year’s conference theme covers the provision of comprehensive safety management systems and the consolidation and integration of MRO processes; methods for ensuring the existence of a qualified workforce despite shrinking training budgets; the challenges in training for the operation and maintenance of new aircraft types and strategies for delivering results and ensuring value for less cost against the fluctuating Euro currency.

To illustrate the key points in his keynote address, ‘Operating in today’s European Marketplace – The Flybe Experience’, Mr French outlined Flybe’s successful growth since 2002 and, more pertinently, that of its Aviation Services’ division in becoming one of the leading providers of aviation maintenance support for regional aircraft operators in Europe.
Flybe’s multi-million pound investments in its state-of-the-art hangar and its newly opened Training Academy at Exeter International Airport, its finely tuned MRO processes and skills and its recognition as an approved service centre for Bombardier, Embraer, ATR and BAe aircraft types were also highlighted in supporting his overarching message.

 Mr French stressed that the regional airline sector demands the same levels of expertise, quality and cost control as that which exists in the long haul and wide-bodied sectors. Flybe’s New Walker Hangar facility is one of the largest regional MRO facilities in Europe that supports a diverse and impressive global group of customers. It has a capacity for up to one million man hours and its workshops offer fully capable, flexible solutions that incorporate the widest range of services available, a service that is unrivalled currently by any other similar facility in the sector.

It has achieved this in numerous and innovative ways including improved work sequencing, sophisticated parts management, a fully approved on-site component repair shop with parts’ manufacturing capability and on-site support from manufacturers’ representatives.
“For example”, explained Mr French, “we have established a massive database of requirements for specific jobs that, as a result, allows us to confidently provide a fixed price quote for most activities. I’m delighted to report that we are now also working with a number of EU governments to transfer our expertise to their armed services and it’s a credit to them and testament to our recognised skills that they are turning to private sector knowledge.”

In speaking on ways in which companies could ensure the existence of a qualified workforce despite shrinking training budgets, Mr French again illustrated the point through ‘The Flybe Experience’. “With the additional ability through the Flybe Training Academy to also initiate our own engineering apprenticeships together with our local university and college partners enabling to supply the ever-changing demands of our MRO facility, and provide on-site simulator  type training for the pilot workforce, we are well on our way to  establishing a self-contained one-stop shop,”

In conclusion, he commented: “In today’s challenging economic times, Flybe is able to provide an efficient MRO service with guaranteed downtimes without compromising safety, and provide much-needed training facilities. This is critically important to the economic and sustainable operation of any airline where ‘cost is king’.  It translates into being able to fly more hours with fewer aircraft, supported by a highly skilled workforce, all of which is so vital to operational efficiency in today’s challenging economic environment.”