With new opportunities, there are new possibilities and new challenges. Both appeal to Gretchen Jahn, former CEO of Mooney Aircraft, as well as former general manager of New Zealand’s Alpha Aviation. In July, Jahn became the Chief Operating Officer of Remos Aircraft.
When General Aviation News caught up with Jahn at AirVenture, she had been in her new position less than a month, barely enough time to get business cards printed, but she was already elbow-deep in the world of Remos.
“It’s great to be back at Oshkosh representing such a great airplane,” she said with a smile, noting that the Remos is one of the more popular Light-Sport Aircraft on the market.
The Remos is a high-wing composite design with gull-wing doors. The airplane, made in Germany, was one of the first to gain a foothold in the American LSA movement.
“Initially it was designed to fit into the European ultralight category,” Jahn explained. “Then as light-sport aircraft developed and evolved in the United States, the airplane evolved along with it.”
The early Remos had a basic VFR cockpit and the interiors were little more than tube cages with fiberglass shells. The airplane seemed more ultralight than airplane to some people. That has changed, said Jahn.
“Our customers have things that they want to see in the airplane that are in addition to what ultralight customers want,” she said. “For example, we have leather seats and a leather interior which is absolutely lovely.”
Jahn’s reputation in the industry is that of a person who helps businesses become more efficient and customer friendly. The process at Remos began with an online customer survey.
“We want people to go to our website and tell us what about the airplane do you think is absolutely wonderful, what we should not change, and what improvements we should make to it,” she said. “What about our product would you like to see improvements to? We are all ears.”
Fast-forward to late last year: Jahn and the rest of the Remos team are sifting through the information gleaned from the customer input.
“Customers value the quality of the Remos GX fit and finish, the flight handling of the aircraft and its useful load,” she said. “Information gleaned from the survey is helping Remos improve and shape its product, sales and service strategies.”
When Jahn joined Remos, the factory had the ability to produce 200 aircraft a year.
“In terms of production it is a matter of just continuing to polish that diamond,” she said. “I am thrilled in terms of the quality of the process and the approach to manufacturing. We can go from nothing to a fully flown, signed-off aircraft in just six weeks.”
The airplanes are manufactured in Germany. They are test flown and registered, then packed into shipping crates for the trip to the United States. When they arrive here, they are unpacked and go through a full inspection before being turned over to dealers and customers.
The customer base runs the gamut, said Jahn, from flight schools and entry level pilots to the more experienced pilot who wants a smaller, more economical airplane to fly for fun.
Because the airplane is sold worldwide, the Remos is adapted to the culture of its customers.
“Our U.S.-based customers want different things than our European customers,” said Jahn. “In avionics, for example, we have a combination of certain manufacturers’ radios that are preferred in Europe and others for the U.S. market to cover the customers different interests and requirements.”
According to Jahn, there is a difference between manufacturing in a fully regulated environment verses manufacturing in the LSA environment.
“I am grateful to the individuals and companies that devoted their time to creating the ASTM standard for light-sport aircraft,” she said. “They did a great job in developing consensus standards that help assure a safe and reliable product. Remos is becoming more heavily involved in this effort as we see it as a major element in the future of aviation. We are also involved in the European aircraft manufacturing community, working with European Aviation Safety Agency on the European LSA rules. It has been quite a learning experience.”
Remos is also in the process of expanding its network of aircraft dealers and pilot centers in the United States.
“We have 20 Remos dealers and pilot centers around the United States and we want to add more dealers,” she said. “With our website we want it to be easier for people to find a flight school that is close to them so that they can see and fly the Remos.”
Remos, like many other aircraft manufacturers, is concerned about the high drop-out rate among student pilots.
“A recent study by AOPA indicated that the majority of new students want to fly for recreation,” said Jahn. “I can’t help but believe that putting more fun into flying would keep these students interested and motivated to complete their license. LSAs in general — and the Remos GX in particular — are a great way to put the fun into the learning process. The flight schools see this as a great addition to their fleets because it allows people to get into aviation in a less expensive manner, but also allows them to fulfill the requirements for both Sport Pilot and, if they want, the Private Pilot certificate.”
Remos is well-aware of its popularity with flight schools, said Jahn, noting that the company made the decision to replace composite landing gear with spring steel to make the airplane more student-friendly.
“The landing gear does take a beating at flight schools,” she said. “The original Remos had composite landing gear, which was fabulous for Europe because their runways are grass, while here in the U.S. our runways are paved. The landing gear is now made out of spring steel and can take lots of students taking off and landing day in and day out.”
The change in the landing gear also makes the airplanes easier to maintain, she said, “because the composite gear had the fairings built into the wheel, which made it more difficult to check the tires. The new gear has removable fairings. We are still looking at what we can do to make the airplane more maintainable.”
For more information: Remos.com