Sustaining Value & Minimizing Risk: Helicopter Coverage Trends

By Pratt & Whitney Customer Service

Given the helicopter industry’s complexity and diversity, a one-size-fits-all approach to customer service doesn’t work. Craig Huisson, Director, Helicopter Programs, explains how P&WC is evolving its maintenance plans and services.

Airtime: How Are Helicopter Operators’ Needs Changing?

Craig Huisson: Many of our customers are facing fiercer competition and more challenging market conditions. To stay successful, they need solutions that go beyond traditional engine maintenance programs.

The customer service model is becoming much more flexible, so that we can adapt to each operator’s individual requirements.

- Craig Huisson, Director, Helicopter Programs

Without a doubt there’s a growing need for tailored services. Key trends we’re seeing include aging fleets, longer engine time on wing, growth in emerging markets and an increasing percentage of leased helicopters.

How Are You Addressing the Need for Tailored Services?

Direct operator feedback is key, as well as what the data is telling us. We stay in close contact with our operators to understand their mission profiles, business challenges and how they view and use our products and services. This way we’re able to continuously improve our offerings and address any gaps in our service portfolio.

Through our Digital Engine Services, we’re providing engine health solutions that result in highly predictive environments – where we can monitor the performance of the engine and plan proactive measures as may be needed. With our FAST™ solution for engine diagnostics and prognostics, for example, we’re capturing more than one million hours of quality full-flight data each year. This lets us deliver actionable insights and situational awareness about engine health, usage and trends.

When it comes to our helicopter operators in particular, we’re tailoring solutions to several customer profiles, from energy and offshore operators to sellers of pre-owned aircraft to those who fly heads of state.

How Can These Tailored Solutions Help Operators?

Let’s take, for example, our Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) engine program, which we launched to support buyers and sellers of used P&WC-powered aircraft. CPO provides a two-year or 500-hour engine warranty that’s bundled with other services such as one-year complimentary access to technical publications and preferential pricing on parts. We can also apply the total cost of the warranty toward an Eagle Service™ Plan (ESP™) pay-per-hour maintenance program once the warranty ends.

As far as we know, no other engine manufacturer is providing a solution like CPO. Given the volume of used aircraft transactions – and the need for buyers and sellers to protect their asset value and reduce time on market – we saw an opportunity to provide a unique solution.

- Craig Huisson, Director, Helicopter Programs.

After successfully piloting the program on a few helicopter models in 2018, we’re now rolling it out to all turboshaft engines in 2019.

How Do You Satisfy the Needs of So Many Different Customers and Missions?

Our maintenance programs are about sustaining asset value and minimizing risk – this is true for every customer and mission type. However, to address the variety of environments and needs, we’ve developed a simple approach with three comprehensive plans. These are built on flexibility, choice, simplification of financial planning, transferability at aircraft sale and residual-value protection.

All three program types are backed by our Global Service Network of P&WC-owned and designated facilities. Our Eagle Service™ Plan (ESP™) programs offer planned and preventive coverage for owners of single aircraft. Our highly customizable Fleet Management™ Programs (FMP™) provide economies of scale for larger fleets. Our newest offering, the Fleet Service Plan (FSP), is a hybrid between ESP and FMP for smaller helicopter fleets.

FSP is a guaranteed-cost maintenance program for fleets of up to five helicopters that covers scheduled maintenance and unscheduled engine events – including environmental coverage. Operators have the flexibility to choose from multiple coverage options and it is fully transferable upon the sale of an aircraft to the next owner.

- Craig Huisson, Director, Helicopter Programs

Any Final Thoughts on the Helicopter Market?

While the helicopter segment is evolving rapidly, it’s worth noting that some needs remain constant. One of those is reliability. Operators have to be able to trust their engines. Our helicopter engine fleet has accumulated over 64 million hours, operating in all kinds of environments around the world. We’re delivering reliability that’s five times better than the industry standard, along with more than 99% availability. In that sense, no one is better positioned to meet helicopter operators’ needs.

Dive deeper into the transformation of P&WC’s customer services with our feature Needs Are Evolving: Tailored Services Bring Sweeping Change.