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Saturday, March 1, 2008

Heli-Expo Show Day: Turbomeca Looking to Turn the Corner

James T. McKenna

TURBOMECA EXECUTIVES ARE confident that 2008 will be the year when their investments in improving customer support begin to pay off.

"I think you will see us turn the corner in 2008," said Turbomeca Chairman and CEO Emeric d’Arcimoles.

Toward the end of this year, the engine maker will conduct the next in its series of biennial customer-satisfaction surveys, which executives described as a very detailed assessment of how well Turbomeca has met customer expectations. The survey is translated into six languages to better plumb satisfaction levels. D’Arcimoles and his management expect it to provide evidence of their success in improving customer support.

"The survey this year is very important," said Serge Maillé, commercial and technical support vice president for Turbomeca (Booth 1031).

The engine maker has labored under a reputation for unsatisfactory customer service and has struggled to reverse that. The problem was aggravated in 2005 and 2006, when Turbomeca didn’t keep up with demand for spare parts.

"We were extremely late in producing spares," said Philippe Couteaux, the company’s vice president in charge of aero engines.

Turbomeca has invested heavily in increasing its capacity for producing parts and for repairing and overhauling engines. This year, it will bring on line a new parts-production facility in Monroe, N.C.

That and other steps have helped Turbomeca "achieved a balance of load and capacity," Couteaux said. The company also steadily has ramped up engine production. Turbomeca officials said they built 1,274 new engines, compared to 1,070 in 2006 and 750 in 2005. This year, their target is 1,500 new engines.

In addition to that, Couteaux said, the company last year produced a quantity of spare parts equivalent to 400 engines and repaired 2,560 engines.

"The target is 3,000 repaired engines," he said. "We have the manufacturing capacity to get to 3,000 repaired engines a year."

The company reports it now has parts equivalent to 1,000 engines in its worldwide spare-parts pool.

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