Training, service take center stage at Flight Design

Priorities are shifting at Flight Design, the company that dominates the Light Sport Aircraft market in the U.S.

“In the beginning, it’s easy to sell airplanes,” says Matthias Betsch, CEO of the Germany-based company. “Later, you have to make the customers happy.”

Making those customers happy is the main component behind the company’s new service and sales training program. The program, which is mandatory for all who sell and service the Flight Design CT, kicks off in June in Germany. All “service partners” will be required to attend the program to ensure that service is standardized around the world. Participants will be grouped according to skill level, with basic, intermediate and master classes offered. Only master class students will be allowed to do structural repairs.

After the training is complete, students in the beginner and intermediate classes will be required to conduct internal audits to ensure that they remain compliant with the company’s standards, while master class students will get a visit from their trainers “until they are satisfied” that the facility is operating to Flight Design’s standards, according to Betsch.

“Trainers also will be personal consultants, so if there is a problem, service technicians can call their trainer and he will talk them through it,” he said. For complex problems, trainers also can be sent to a facility to help with repairs.

A second training location in the U.S. is planned in about a year, he added.

The company, which has sold about 140 aircraft in the U.S., claims about 21% of the U.S. LSA market. There are about 900 CTs flying worldwide.

Flight Design USA expects to import about 200 airplanes this year, up from 104 last year, according to Tom Peghiny, president of Flight Design USA.

The German manufacturing facility is on target to produce 400 to 500 planes this year, Betsch said. “The market is growing worldwide, not just in the U.S.,” he noted.

The company’s Ukraine factory recently completed a third party ASTM standards compliance audit arranged through the Light Aircraft Manufacturer’s Association (LAMA). The independent audits are another piece of the puzzle in ensuring customer service, according to Peghiny.

“Such independent audits help assure customers, insurance companies, membership organizations and FAA that ASTM consensus standards are being followed,” he said.

Through LAMA, Flight Design hired Aviation Services to review its documentation, as well as examine its manufacturing facilities and processes. The examination provides an outside review of the documentation and testing used to make the FAA Statement of Compliance required to produce fully built Special Light Sport Aircraft. The effort involves several days of document and process review, plus an engineering review of test data.

Flight Design is the third company to successfully pass the audit. Now, each plane produced by Flight Design will carry the LAMA decal as a “seal of approval.”

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