There’s no sense in implementing a security program if there’s no business to secure.
That’s the thought that kept crossing my mind — and likely my executives’ minds — as we read the angry e-mails from our primary customers, aircraft pilots and directors of maintenance (DOM), telling us they would never use our aviation repair services again.
What were they so upset about? In a word: freedom. Or a perceived lack thereof.
When a pilot or DOM brings an aircraft to a service center for repair, they want to ensure it is safe and secure in the facility while it undergoes maintenance. They want the entire process to run efficiently and smoothly. And most of all, they want to be right there with the plane when all of this is accomplished. In an agreement many foreign-owned aviation companies make with the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), however, physical escorts are required to accompany these customers when visiting aviation maintenance, repair and overhaul facilities.
On the surface, this requirement doesn’t seem so bad. But if there is one thing you should know about pilots and DOMs, it is that they love their planes. So when my company, StandardAero, had to tell them they couldn’t be with their planes unless one of our escorts was with them, we were not at all prepared for the backlash that followed.
These customers make up a nearly $300 million business segment of StandardAero’s portfolio, and this new requirement put the company in jeopardy of losing nearly 40 percent of its customer base.
StandardAero was in danger of losing business due to a security requirement. The company needed a solution that could ensure regulatory compliance and not push its customers away at the same time. That solution came in the form of sensing technology combined with high-tech video surveillance cameras that have enabled StandardAero to protect aircraft in the presence of visitors without the need for a physical escort. It is a solution that makes both the government and our customers happy.
StandardAero’s eEscort solution did more than just protect people and property while satisfying regulatory requirements — it truly saved our business.
A Security Issue Threatening the Business
Founded in 1911, StandardAero is one of the world’s largest independent aviation service businesses. The company specializes in maintenance, repair and overhaul for commercial, air transport, military, business and general aviation, industrial aircraft and helicopters. Its 4,000 employees located in 26 facilities in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Asia and Australia serve customers from more than 80 different countries.
In order to comply with a new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) agreement, StandardAero developed and implemented a comprehensive security program in 2008 to protect the people, property and information under its direction or control. Shortly after, however, it became crystal clear that the business aviation community was not pleased with one aspect of the company’s access control plan: physical escorts of visitors, including customers. In short, they no longer felt welcome, and some even felt as if their rights were being violated.
On top of that, the customers expressed to the company that this new requirement would hinder their ability to perform the duties for which they had been employed — and they would take their business elsewhere. Some customers blatantly said they would never come back. StandardAero is extremely customer-centric and the customer satisfaction metric is among the most important to its leadership team.
Naturally, StandardAero quickly sought alternate options. It began a benchmarking process to gauge competitor security practices, only to find that standard procedures at other facilities included visitor logging, badge/code access and the manual checking of IDs. No other direct competitor required a physical escort.