Changing The Game
One of the world's top Aviation Management Groups
& a US based Designer team up to overhaul the VVIP
Completions process model - and move the calendar
back to the left.
By: Michael Bloom
Some may argue over the percentage of VVIP and Head of State Completion that run beyond their contracted delivery date - but literally no one in the industry (or the customers themselves for that matter) will argue that it's way too big of a number! VVIP Completions are by their nature, extremely complex and fraught with challenge. That's not likely ever to change. But the historically accepted sequential process models that virtually all large completions follow, can change. And two long established industry players have merged their considerable experience to make it happen.
As you no doubt already know from your own experience, there is no one reason for these habitually late deliveries. The reasons vary widely across the process - extending from well prior to contract, all the way across the process chain to final checks and fly-away. And some of the reasons may surprise you. In most cases when an aircraft delivers significantly past it's contracted "fly-away" date, the fingers get pointed at the completion center - and why not right? I mean they're the legally contracted party, responsible for strict adherence to the date. And in many cases, it is the center that bears the heaviest causal burden. But rest assured it's rarely only the center that holds blame and in some cases, they hold zero responsibility for a late delivery. It is a hard and little recognized fact that often, it is the customer themselves that unwittingly set their completion on a path for delivery-date disaster.
A huge part of setting a large VVIP completion on a path for predictable success is what occurs long before contract with the appointed center. If, for example, a customer hires an independent designer who doesn't have the proper breadth of experience in VVIP design and completion, he has immediately set up a chain of dominoes that will inevitably fall in the wrong direction from the get go. And in most cases, it won't likely get discovered until it's too late. If you arrive at PDR / CDR before discovering the designer doesn't have the proper knowledge of process, conformity, regulatory statutes etc, the damage is already done. Everything grinds to a halt and the center is left trying to sort it out, educate the designer and keep the project advancing in an environment where it's next to impossible.
And that's just one way an owner can unwittingly set his own project at serious schedule risk, downstream. Not engaging the proper depth of research on candidate centers, moving too slowly in identifying and contracting the center, and not clearly knowing what you want are all culprits that can send the calendar reeling.
This important collaboration between MENTE Group (Dallas) and Richard Roseman Airborne Design (Santa Fe, NM), have combined their more than 60 years experience (from completely different perspectives), to identify both these front-end problems and the myriad of issues that occur during the completion itself. Identifying and revising the approach to these very solvable problems is what the collaboration is about. According to the program's principal architects, Vince Restivo (MENTE) and Rick Roseman (RRAD) it has brought about a sharply enhanced process model that promises a much smoother, more predictive ride for VVIP & Head of State customers. "It's clearly where the future of large completions is headed " says Mr. Restivo. "We just happen to be the first to really focus on these problems across the entire timeline of a project and reform the outdated processes that may have worked at one time, but that have no place in modern completions".
The two groups co-developed E-First / White Glove in 2016 / 17 and announced it during last year's NBAA in Las Vegas. It represents a significant leap forward in predictive de-risking and advanced program oversight of both narrow and wide-body VVIP projects.
In terms of definition, E-First / White Glove is an advanced high-value, full range completion management service now available to VVIP and Head of State customers. It is specifically aimed at de-risking large VVIP design / build projects. But according to the principals of both firms, it is more than subtle process refinements; it's a complete reform in efficiency models for both narrow and wide-body VVIP / Head of State programs.
According to MENTE and RRAD, E-First / White Glove is not merely a tag-line for entering the VVIP completion management space, but one that represents a dramatic reform of current process models, one that will help protect the financial interests of its clients and elevate their overall experience and outcome.
The tag E-First In its literal inception simply meant Engineering First. It defines a revision in process whereby engineering and design were brought together from the very first moments of a project. The goal was (and is) to eliminate huge stumbling blocks in large VVIP projects by involving preliminary engineering reviews of the designer's early concept designs so that inordinately expensive or regulatory-challenged proposals could be addressed long before they became stifling issues downstream. As simple and obvious as it may seem, this one re-arrangement in the start gate is literally project-altering, saving huge dollars, circumventing agony between factions and side-stepping debilitating (and often unrecoverable) schedule impacts. E-First represents a paradigm shift in VVIP completion management.
"Today however, the concept has evolved significantly" says MENTE's Vice President of Program Management, Vince Restivo. "E-First now fully embraces not only engineering, but certification and budget. That is to say, all the paramount drivers married way up within the very earliest moments of a project."
"But while a project's front end is vitally important in setting out a smoother experience", says Mr. Restivo, "so too are all the remaining downstream production aspects. MENTE has a rich project history in top-tier business jet completions and we're now bringing those assets to the green completions market". This heavy experiential background brings a robust Completion Management program with proven tools developed over many years. These close range process tools ensure that... 1) prescribed quality levels are met across the board, that 2) schedule integrity is closely-managed via early issue identification and recovery techniques - and 3) by employing advanced cost controls that don't allow budgetary issues to creep up. E-First is predictive and proactive in identifying issues today that, left unresolved, become huge program risks later. "Our focus" says Restivo, "is on creating stability...in what is often a destabilized setting."
According to both men, E-First / White Glove is a high-level offering for VVIP customers that specifically has targeted and reformed many of the debilitating stumbling blocks and process inefficiencies in these complex programs. The result they say, is a smoother ride for the owner and a more predictable (and therefore profitable) program for the centers and the design studios involved. "Our goal" says Mr. Roseman, RRAD's founder "is to put an end to the out of control schedule and cost overruns that have become all too common in today's green completion environment. We will accomplish this by carefully stewarding our customer's resources and utilizing a combination of both historically proven and revolutionary new processes....refined and predictive processes that span from the first moments of aesthetic design all the way to re-delivery and fly-away. "And the icing on the cake", concludes Restivo, "is the White Glove component, an absolute redefinition of customer care wherein we combine our advanced technical offering with a level of customer interface and responsiveness that frankly hasn't been around in decades and truly matches the dollars our customers are spending."