Many utility aircraft applications involve a measure of human drama, as they support mission-critical purposes: they race to save lives as air ambulances, heroically fight destructive wildfires as water bombers or deliver aid and aid workers to distressed parts of the world, landing on remote, rough-hewn airstrips. Others can be found serving a variety of different business needs, such as hauling cargo, delivering tourists to exclusive island vacation destinations, training civil and military pilots, patrolling borders and lifting thrill-seekers to 10,000 feet so they can fall back to earth under billowing parachutes.
“The one common thread that ties all these different applications together is the fact that the operators are, for the most part, all running some sort of commercial undertaking, from a large corporation with a fleet of aircraft to an owner-operator in a niche business,” says Jeffrey Quick, Manager, PT6A Customer Service. “So we know right away that while economic conditions might have an impact to varying degrees, our customers rely on their aircraft to conduct their business. They need to fly to make money. They are very cost-conscious, want exceptional dispatch reliability and expect flexible options for their maintenance needs.”
Many utility operators need to complete multiple cycles in the same day, made possible by one of the PT6 engine’s key strengths – its unmatched durability. If an operator has an issue in the field, they need it resolved in a matter of hours, not days. “If you are in the cargo industry and your aircraft is AOG (Aircraft on Ground), you’re losing money,” explains Quick. “If you are a humanitarian relief operation or air ambulance company with an AOG, delays can have an impact on lives – that’s what is at stake.”
He says the speed with which Pratt & Whitney Canada’s global customer service network can respond is a key selling point for the utility segment. The company has parts distribution centres around the world targeting parts delivery anywhere within 12 hours. Spare engines can be quickly shipped and installed by the company’s mobile repair teams. The P&WC Customer First Centre’s goal is to resolve AOG situations within 24 hours.
“We will stay close to this market segment, considering it is one of the largest in general aviation,” says Quick. “Aircraft powered by a PT6 engine provide a value proposition to these entrepreneurial operators that the alternatives cannot. In addressing the future, we will continue to demonstrate that value proposition and promote the inherent strengths of the PT6 engine, including its fuel efficiency, payload, landing and takeoff versatility and reliability. There are many opportunities in this segment, and P&WC will continue to play a dynamic role.”
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