Business aviation is the quiet champion of the aerospace industry

Business aviation is a thriving industry, but it is one that faces numerous challenges, with significant regulatory upheaval and talent identification chief among them

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The General Manager of Textron Aviation’s Düsseldorf Service Centre, Stephanie Kietzmann, was approached in 2007 by a recruiter about a human resources position in the aviation sector. Having long maintained a keen interest in the industry, she gladly accepted and, after years spent learning her trade, was offered a managerial position at Textron Aviation in 2014. Never one to shy away from a challenge, Kietzmann spoke to European CEO about both her work and the ways in which she has seen the industry evolve.

What would you say are the most significant industry trends that you have witnessed during your career?
During my career, I have seen many changes in the market as well as in customer expectations. Customers are focused on fast, flexible, accurate and on-time delivery, and that has led the industry to provide a number of innovations to meet these needs.

The continued growth of Textron Aviation’s service network allows us to keep up with the changes as fast as the competitive environment evolves. Textron Aviation made a huge investment in its European service centre network, which we can now return to customers, as we’re able to provide the level of service and attention they need and deserve.

For example, we provide mobile service units to assist customers with aircraft on the ground, or with routine maintenance – service where and when they need it. We also have subject experts for every aircraft model, along with dedicated field service representatives who are available to respond to any customer request. We’re also staying on top of regulatory changes.

On August 25, a European Aviation Safety Agency rule change will require compliance with Part-NCC (non-commercial complex), which obliges corporate aircraft or those operated for individuals, including owner-flown aircraft, to adapt a safety framework similar to that used by commercial operators with an air operator’s certificate. This can be a challenge for some customers, so we have implemented solutions to help comply with Part-NCC, with just one call to us.

What challenges is the aviation industry facing at present, and how do you steer Textron’s response?
Talent development is one of the main challenge I see. There are so many opportunities in the business aviation industry, particularly in Europe, and yet there is a real lack of information for young people regarding opportunities within our industry. At present, they tend to grow up thinking professional aviation is all about working for the major airlines, with little awareness of business aviation. We are currently working on becoming more visible in order to let the next generation know about how rewarding a career in business aviation can be.

What difficulties are there for female executives in the aviation industry
Sometimes customers are surprised to see a female as a GM, but for me this has never been a big deal. While I have to admit that in Europe it seems rare to have a leadership role that has traditionally been held by men, at Textron Aviation, gender does not matter. It is all about performance, and I am very thankful I was offered this position. I am a mother as well, so I am not only running my service centre, but also my family. It seems I was born for operational responsibility, and I would not have it any other way.

What role do you and Textron play in the ongoing evolution of the industry?
I truly believe our service network sets the bar in terms of business aviation aftermarket services. Many OEMs aspire to change the world of business aviation, but very few have all the elements required: talent, resources and perseverance. Textron Aviation has proven it has all three in Europe, and, as the GM of one of the six Textron Aviation service centres in Europe, I couldn’t ask for a better foundation. The whole European network is building on this foundation together, allowing us to bring customers to our facilities across the world.