Three questions for Ken Heidenberger, purchasing manager at Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines, the US company that invented the low-cost model, selected Safran in June 2009 for the maintenance of the landing gear of its Boeing Next-Generation 737s.

Why did Southwest choose Messier Services (Safran group) as the maintenance supplier for the landing gear of its Boeing Next-Generation 737s?

We know Messier Services well. We had already had the opportunity to work with them when they were based in Sterling, Virginia. At the time they took care of the maintenance of the landing gear of our Boeing 737s. Three years ago we were able to discover their new Mexican site at Querétaro. Convinced by their professionalism, we invited them to tender for the maintenance of the landing gears of our Boeing Next-Generation 737s. They came up with the best proposal, and so we naturally chose them as our main supplier.

Maintenance was to begin as soon as the contract was signed. How was the work organization set up?

There was indeed a long preparatory phase. During the negotiations, the Safran teams went to Singapore, to a Messier Services plant that was already well-versed in the maintenance of Boeing Next-Generation 737 landing gear, in order to benefit from the experience of their colleagues. In this way, thanks to this efficient upstream organization, the maintenance operations could get under way directly upon the signing of the contract.

How would you describe relations today between your company and Messier Services?

Excellent! Over the course of time we have been able to find solutions to the problems that arose in the early stages of our collaboration. The teams have acquired valuable experience and now master the processes entirely. Another positive point is the ease and facility of our professional relations. This, moreover, was another reason why we selected Safran. We were satisfied not only with the proposal but also with the excellent rapport that we had with our contacts. For us, this is just as important as what is put down on paper…