Amidst the COVID-19 crisis in the aviation industry, there’s at least one thing at GE Aviation that the global health pandemic hasn’t stopped—the jet engine maker’s 24/7 product support on standby to assist airlines around the world.
Each web portal inquiry, phone call or email from a customer to Fleet Support Technical Operations is unique, and cases could include situations such as Aircraft on Ground (known as AOGs). Employees behind the desk like Lead Technical Support Engineer Amy Shen in Shanghai and Operations Leader Ray Staresina in Cincinnati screen and direct requests to evaluate engine wear and tear, order replacement parts and study borescope inspection results. They must connect customers to the right engineer, for the right procedure and analysis, and provide a customer response—sometimes within hours.
In 2019 alone, GE Aviation Fleet Support handled over 115,000 cases for the world’s largest installed base of more than 37,000* commercial aircraft engines.
Above: Lead Technical Support Engineer Amy Shen in Shanghai (left) and Operations Leader Ray Staresina
As COVID-19 continues to change flight plans, Fleet Support has maintained the same response rates while being flexible to changing work situations—whether from home or office. With fewer planes flying worldwide, there aren’t as many cases to respond to as a year ago. However, customers are increasingly seeking assistance with properly preserving engines headed for long-term storage or, vice versa, engines being returned to service after being grounded, Staresina said.
Regardless of the request or work conditions, the mission is the same—to support airline continuing operations.
GE Aviation customers receive uninterrupted global support between Fleet Support locations in Shanghai, China, and Ohio, in the United States. Customers of CFM International, a 50-50 joint venture with GE and Safran Aircraft Engines, receive additional around-the-clock support from Safran’s Customer Support Center in France.
Beginning at 7 a.m. on a given day at GE’s China Campus in Shanghai, Shen and her colleagues could be asked to resolve issues for airline customers in China or Moscow, as examples. They’ll ask Product Support Engineering to weigh in. The teams in Shanghai and Cincinnati partner to monitor those 37,000+ installed engines by analyzing flight data and help customers trouble shoot any customer product notifications for maintenance advised by GE or CFM.
“Working in fleet support, we are the bridge to connect customers and GE. I am very proud of the achievement when we help a customer to solve a problem,” said Shen, who joined GE Aviation in Fleet Support in 2015. She has 13 years of airline technical experience before that.
About 12 hours later, there’s a handoff, and the Cincinnati team starts their day on the other side of the world. After 21 years at GE Aviation, first at the company’s Peebles Test Operation and now with Fleet Support, Staresina knows how to review and verify customer information and determine the right expert to respond. Before joining GE, Staresina used to be one of the customers asking the questions when he was an airline powerplant leader. That expertise comes into play when helping customers determine when an engine repair or new part purchase is the better value.
“Customers contact GE to assist with their most challenging questions. Sometimes you need clarification and help. Sometimes it’s quite intense,” Staresina said. “Part of good product support is working with the customers to achieve the best final outcome.”