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Inside Track: Captain Manfred Baudzus

Inside Track: Captain Manfred Baudzus

In our ongoing series, we take time out to honour the unsung heroes of the aviation industry, the sales directors who advise, market and sell aircraft to a demanding audience. These people are at the front line of aviation, know every rivet and bolt of the aircraft they sell and have a special insight into what prospective customers are looking for in an aircraft and what the future trends are going to be. Under the spotlight this month is Captain Manfred Baudzus, Senior Sales Director, Asia Pacific at Embraer Executive Jets.

 

How and why did you get interested in aviation?

When I was still very young – perhaps 4 years old – and living in Indonesia, my Dad flew privately and really enjoyed aerobatics. He took me flying occasionally and I can still remember, vividly, my very first take off. With a small boy’s perspective used to seeing everything around you as oversized, I watched the ground fall away, and with wonder saw the world below transform into a miniature world where, for the first time I was big and they were small. The sensation of flight, the aerobatics – it was mesmerizing and I was hooked on flying.

In those days light aircraft flew from the same airports as the airliners so I spent a lot of time around airports, airliners and pilots and just knew I wanted to be a pilot and fly when I grew up. It is a passion that has stayed with me all these years. Today, with around 11,000 hours logged, flying is not as visceral as that very first flight, but sitting in the left seat of a jet preparing for a long flight to a distant destination is mentally involving in a very satisfying way. Flying is something you do for yourself and against yourself, maybe you would call it a selfish indulgence, but it captivates you.

 

How did you get into the industry?

Unlike today where there is actually a shortage of pilots, in the early 1970′s there were too many pilots. Flying has always been expensive and when there are too many pilots for the few paying jobs you needed perseverance and a lot of luck to find the jobs that provided the right kind of experience to further your career. Nobody becomes a pilot by chance, you need passion almost to the extreme to reach your goals and break into the aviation industry.

 

Could you please provide a quick run-down of your position with Embraer, and what it involves?

As Senior Sales Director for Embraer Executive Jets Asia Pacific I am responsible for the sales of the entire Executive Jets line (Phenom 100, Phenom 300, Legacy 450, Legacy 500, Legacy 650E and Lineage 1000E) and I also have responsibility for our pre owned jet sales in my territory. This requires a great deal of travel, visiting and speaking to our existing clients, building and maintaining relationships, planning and instigating Demonstration Tours, attending Air Shows and Industry Events and generally promoting the Embraer Brand .

Initially, when Embraer Asia Pacific opened its office in Singapore in 2001 our territory started in Pakistan in the west, going eastward across all the Asian countries, then north to Japan, south to Australia and New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. China is managed by the Embraer Team based in Beijing.

When Embraer Executive Jets was formed in 2005, I was the only salesman and had to cover the entire region on my own. Thankfully today, even though the territory has grown to include the Middle East, we have additional people covering this vast area.

Today, my territory covers Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, the Philippines, Vietnam, Singapore, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific. It is a large territory that requires around 300 days per year of travel to maintain. Not all these markets are active at the same time so by focusing on the ‘hot’ markets they keep me fully occupied throughout the year.

This would not be possible without the excellent back up I receive from an exceptional team of people at Embraer that make my life much easier when I am moving from country to country each week.

We now have about 60 Embraer Executive Jets in the Asia Pacific region, excluding China. This is an achievement considering that Embraer only started the executive jets division in 2005. Globally, we have delivered more than 1100 business jets.

 

What challenges do you face working across so many different markets and countries throughout the Asia Pacific region?

The Time Zones are probably the most significant challenge. With our main offices in Sao Jose dos Campos, Brazil, and Melbourne, Florida in the USA being on the other side of the planet, they sleep when I work and I sleep when they work. So discussing any issues or clarifying any points requires long days with phone calls very late into the night.

Certainly the different cultures from country to country can be challenging. What is acceptable and perhaps expected in one culture is totally unacceptable in another so one must retain a sensitivity and tolerance to the behaviours encountered. Language is not as much of a problem as one might think as the people we deal with are generally articulate and fluent in English – but it is nice to learn a few words and phrases in each region so you don’t seem like a total novice.

Aviation Culture is another challenge. We are blessed that in Australia we have an established Aviation Culture, this is something that is still developing in the vast majority of my territory. The relevance and benefits of an Executive Jet make more sense when people have the opportunity to actually experience an executive jet themselves. An executive jet is a business productivity tool. It provides flexibility and productivity: busy executives can take off on short notice and avoid the restrictions or significant downtime of flying commercial while keeping up with the day-to-day business during their trips.

What’s your favourite Embraer aircraft and why?

This is a good question and not as easy to answer as you may think because it depends on your perspective. I have three favourite aircraft.

If I am an Owner/Pilot then it is definitely the Phenom 300. With its low operating costs, great performance, great handling qualities, 6,600 ft cabin altitude at FL450 and an easy to use Integrated Single Pilot Cockpit it is fun to fly. It has a really nice ramp presence and usability that is just perfect for an Owner/Pilot. Everyone should have one of these in their garage!

Hopefully, one day I can kick that really big goal and own a Phenom 300 myself.

From a Charter Operator standpoint the Legacy 600/650 is an exceptional workhorse. I wish I had this aircraft when I had my charter business. The Legacy offers a robust airframe, great handling characteristics, incredible reliability, low operating costs and a very comfortable three zone cabin. The perfect charter aircraft that allows you to make money.

Now, if I still wanted performance but a larger cabin than the Phenom 300, I would buy myself the new Legacy 500. This is a very exciting aircraft with its combination of a very quiet, beautifully crafted and detailed interior, excellent performance, 6,000 ft cabin altitude at FL450, absolute cutting edge Fly-By- Wire technology and an integrated flight deck typically found on aircraft costing more than twice as much. It is an aircraft I enjoy demonstrating to clients because it is just so much more aircraft than they expect. You can’t help but be impressed by the Legacy 500.

All our business jets are known for their performance, reliability and generous cabin space. Coupled with our customer support which has been rated number one in the industry for several years now, it really provides peace of mind and in-flight comfort to the owners.

 

What’s been your proudest achievement during your time at Embraer?

From a professional standpoint, my colleagues in the industry will agree, every single sale you make these days is a proud achievement. But looking back, perhaps my proudest achievement goes back to when I was with the Commercial unit and was instrumental in placing the E170′s and E190′s with Virgin Blue. For a multitude of reasons it was a four year gestation period and my very last airline campaign before moving to the Executive Jets business unit. I gained a great deal of respect for the key people at VB who were all very professional and detail oriented. I learned a lot from that campaign.

 

Which aircraft has created the most buzz during your time working for the company?

Without doubt, this would have to be the Phenom range. When Embraer decided to enter the executive jet market in 2005 we developed a business plan that was predicated on capturing a large customer base at the Entry Level that we could hopefully keep within our Brand as they moved up to larger models we were yet to develop in the future.

The Phenoms were announced at EBACE that year, where we had two 1 metre long models, a Phenom 100 and a Phenom 300 on display. That certainly created a buzz.

That ‘Buzz’ went exponential at NBAA that year, where we then had full scale cabin mock ups of the Phenom 100 and Phenom 300 on display at our Chalet. Buyers cued up outside, cheque books in hand, waiting to sign contracts. Our production line was sold out for several years. An OEM’s dream.

 

How is Australia evolving and developing as a market for Embraer?

Embraer was established in 1969 and its relationship with Australia goes all the way back to the late seventies when Jack Masling brought the very first EMB110 Bandeirante’s to Australia for his regional airline. The Bandeirante was a very innovative aircraft for its day and quickly gained acceptance in Australia as other operators saw the benefits and the fleet grew very quickly. The relationship with Australia continued to grow over the years with the introduction of the EMB120 Brasilia, ERJ145, E170, E175 and E190 all being operated in country.

On the Executive Jets side, and keeping in mind we only started in 2005, we have the Phenom 100, Phenom 300, Legacy 500 and Legacy 600 flying in Australia today.

The Australian foothold is firm, our Embraer Authorized Service Centre is ExecuJet, and they have done an excellent job of supporting these aircraft in country. Today we have strong interest in several of our aircraft models and we continue to strive to place more aircraft and keep growing the Embraer Family in Australia.

Embraer is increasingly becoming involved in the military side of aviation; where will this take the company in the future?

Embraer is verticalized in four columns. We have the Commercial Jets, Defense & Security, Executive Jets and the Services and Support business units. Each unit has their own CEO and reporting structure who in turn report to the Group CEO. This allows each division to specialize and develop in its own right and seek out opportunities that match its expertise and capabilities.

Indeed, the military side is deeply embedded in our DNA. Embraer was conceived as a strategic industry by the Military to develop an indigenous aerospace capability that did not exist in Brazil at the time.

Our very first aircraft, the Bandeirante, was specifically developed as a Military Liaison/Utility aircraft. It was not until someone noticed the potential for the aircraft as a civil commuter that the aircraft gained its civilian wings.

Over the years Embraer has developed many military solutions and sold aircraft to various governments around the world with this expertise culminating in today’s KC390 air lifter. The largest aircraft Embraer builds today. It is a direct competitor and replacement for the venerable and hugely successful C130. The KC390 is a jet-powered tactical transport able to perform a variety of missions based on a modern high technology platform.

Having the four divisions actually allows us to share technological developments that can have application in each field. For example, the Fly-By-Wire system deployed in the KC390 is the same system developed for the Legacy 450/500.

We see this as an asset that enhances Embraer’s over all capabilities.

We’ve covered the Legacy 650E in the magazine, and our readers are obviously excited by the potential – what can they expect from this brilliant new aircraft?

The Legacy 650 has always been a very popular aircraft in Asia where the cabin size, large baggage area, low operating costs and high reliability have been favoured. We hope Australians stepping up from mid-sized aircraft will take a good look at this aircraft too.

The new Legacy 650E is a further refinement of the existing Legacy 650 and whilst it has always had dual FADEC’s it is now backed by Autothrottle and Synthetic Vision to further reduce pilot workload. We have also offered some further interior refinements.

The big news, however, and a first in the industry, is the new 10 Year Factory Warranty. This just underlines our faith in the incredible reliability of the Legacy 650E. This new 10 Year Warranty will either allow an owner to keep the aircraft longer knowing it is still protected by the factory, or, if he opts to sell it after five years it will increase the residual value of the aircraft by still being covered by a further five year warranty where other aircraft would be out of warranty.

 

Have you worked for any other aviation companies? If so, who?

Much of my 40 plus years in aviation has been spent flying executive jets for Australian, Asian and American corporate flight departments on global missions, and over the years I have also run my own charter and management companies. Some of the companies I worked for are household names and some are lesser known.

On the sales side I have only worked for Embraer, both in the Commercial and Executive Jets areas. As a pilot in the early nineties I had a short spell at another OEM where we were working on a project for Asia but our timing was not right. That project eventually took off 10 years later, but I was committed elsewhere by then.

 

What’s the most incredible flying experience you’ve ever had?

Certainly one of the most spectacular was my first flight to Paro, in the Kingdom of Bhutan. This is a 6,445 feet runway at an elevation of 7,332 feet nestled in the Himalayas. I was not flying but sitting in the Jump Seat on the flight deck.

Approaching Paro from the south flying over some of the highest terrain in the world it was difficult to imagine where we were going to land the aircraft until the captain pointed out the airfield far below us in a valley. It looked like we were going to land in a tea cup. There was scattered cloud so we made a ‘cloud break’ procedure guided by a VOR radial and once visual below the clouds the very experienced and skilled pilots manoeuvred the aircraft through procedure turns over spurs and valleys with the GPWS and Rad Alt constantly calling out until we were eventually aligned with the runway, which was still partially obscured by yet another spur. Once over this last spur, where someone built a house right on the ridge in line with the runway, you push the nose down to place the aircraft on the piano keys to give yourself every inch of runway available at this altitude. I swear the wheels were no more than 50 feet over the roof of that house on short final.

Operations are only permitted during daylight hours. – as you might expect. It rained that evening and when we awoke the next morning Paro was surrounded by the most spectacular snow covered peaks. Certainly an unforgettable experience.

 

What’s the funniest or most unusual thing you’ve seen during your time in the industry?

Not so long ago we were on a Phenom 300 Demonstration Tour and came across a very innovative variant to the C152. This is probably still Top Secret and shouldn’t be revealed in the public realm for fear of infringing patent copyright. However, here it is – called the 152 LR (Long Range) – it is bound to be a popular STC!

Who’s the most fascinating person you’ve met in the aviation industry and why?

My career has allowed me to meet and interact with so many truly outstanding and impressive people who often started with absolutely nothing and built up huge multi-billion dollar organizations. These people have been through so much and worked so hard but we only ever see the final result of their success. All of them have fascinating stories, are hugely impressive and, in almost every case, humble and a pleasure to be around.

One person that does stick in my mind is Mauricio Botelho, who was President and CEO of Embraer when I first joined the Company.

Mauricio led the Team that took Embraer from Government ownership and turned it into a profitable and successful public company. He was absolutely the right man to take the Company forward at that very difficult time, a natural leader, charismatic, a motivational speaker who took Embraer into jets.

Like many of the captains of industry I have met over the years, Mauricio had a gift for remembering the names and faces of people who worked for him – all 22,000 of them. I recall an occasion where I was due to attend a meeting with him and some other people from the newly formed Executive Jets unit.

Perhaps I had only met Mauricio once before over the preceding years but as he stepped out of the elevator he called me by name and shook my hand. I found that hugely impressive that he could remember me from all his employees. Mauricio could walk around the Factory and call everyone by name.

There are many other stories I would like to relate but it would take too long. Thank you for the opportunity!

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