NEEDS ARE EVOLVING: TAILORED SERVICES BRING SWEEPING CHANGE
When it comes to transforming aviation and the aftermarket—and setting the benchmark for customer service—P&WC focuses on highly tailored solutions backed by data-driven intelligence. Airtime spoke with Nicole Kappos and Steve Marandola from Customer Service.
This is a time of major change in the aviation industry. How are aircraft operators’ needs evolving?
Our customers are facing greater competition, tighter margins and more demanding business and operational requirements. We stay close to them to best understand their needs and the challenges they face—so that as they adapt we are able to best anticipate and evolve our services and solutions accordingly.
With a few exceptions, a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t make sense, so we’re refining our customer service model to provide tailored services that increase engine availability by addressing customer’s specific business and operational requirements. That’s challenging us to look more closely at operator and market trends.
What are a few of the trends you’re seeing in aviation?
Aircraft are changing hands frequently. Last year, there were four times more used aircraft transactions as there were in the previous year compared to new aircraft sales. Engines are also staying on-wing longer, and many more aircraft are being leased these days.
How are you adapting to these trends?
Leasing is a good example. We’ve always offered leased engines through our extensive pool of more than 1,000 engines and APUs. But these were always short-term rentals for at most a few months—for instance, to temporarily replace an engine while it’s in the shop or for an operator with an AOG.
Now, to meet the growing demand for leased engines, we’ve adapted our business model and begun offering tailored long-term leasing arrangements. We recently reached an agreement on a long-term lease with one of our regional airline customers, and from what we’re seeing on the market, there will be a lot more demand for this type of approach in the future.
What are you doing differently from a maintenance perspective?
Being proactive is key to our strategy and our unique engine OEM value proposition. With our PW300 engine customers, for example, we offer a power-packed combination of data-driven decision making, preventative maintenance tools and tailored coverage programs – leading to greater availability, lower rates and on-condition maintenance programs.
We now have nearly 3,000 PW300 engine customers being trended and supported through our Proactive Help Desk that launched a year ago. Customers who have our FAST™ prognostics solution and our pay-per-hour ESP™ coverage are supported by a dedicated team of aviation technicians and data analysts that conduct daily reviews of the engine and aircraft data and are developing new engine health signatures to identify potential issues well in advance. This specialized team proactively reaches out to our customers to provide recommendations and remedial action to maximize mission readiness and performance optimizations.
For PW306D1 customers enrolled in ESP, they have the option to move to an on-condition maintenance program that allows flexibility on the maintenance intervals based on engine health and trending along with a lower ESP rate.
We are also providing proactive reliability upgrades at the time of C-Check for PW307A customers with ESP. At no added cost to customers, P&WC is incorporating four service bulletins proactively– that is to say, making four major reliability upgrades when they bring their aircraft in for the C-Check –as part of our ongoing efforts to move customers to a more fully planned environment.
A final example for this engine family is our flyaway kit for PW307, PW308 and PW308C/C+ Falcon customers. This is basically a hard-shelled case containing parts and tooling for the engine, which operators can easily bring onboard with them when they fly and is provided as part of our ESP Platinum program. That way, no matter how remote the location, they have what they need to do basic line maintenance on hand.
Are you doing things differently for other customers outside of business aviation?
Yes, absolutely, on the turboshaft side, we recently launched our Mission-Ready Services for Heads of State. We are developing customized packages of spare parts, engine familiarization programs and dedicated engineering services to support maintenance of helicopters that transport heads of state and other VIPs and ensure the helicopter is available whenever needed.
We’ve also launched a service that forward positions line replaceable unit (LRU) parts at the customer’s location to reduce maintenance time. This is tailored for customers in industries such as oil and gas, where even one day of downtime can be extremely costly. By having the LRU parts right there on site, you avoid delays in waiting for remote ones to arrive.
Right now, we’re offering this service directly to individual customers and putting parts on their premises. We’re also considering creating strategically located LRU pools of parts and engines, which would be accessible to multiple customers via a subscription model.
How do you identify the need for services like these in the first place?
We do this in two ways: through ongoing interaction and dialogue with operators and through the engine and aircraft data. Incidentally, we have now captured and analysed more than three million hours of full-flight data through our FAST prognostics solution, giving us deep insight into the engine and aircraft and enabling us to help customers optimize their maintenance and operations and move to more fully planned environments.
It’s always important to talk to customers and build a personal relationship. Along with the insights from the data, our customer service initiatives are developed based on ongoing dialogue with operators. We’re also engaged in conversations with third parties such as industry analysts and aircraft appraisers to ensure we’re contributing favorably to the customer’s bottom line across the aircraft’s life cycle.
We’re going above and beyond what we have traditionally done to offer something for everyone, throughout the entire engine life cycle. Our new Certified Pre-Owned (CPO) Engine Program extends the warranty of used engines that meet certain criteria. This service is custom-made for buyers and sellers of used aircraft.
Going forward, what do you need to do in order to keep delivering customized solutions like these?
We need to keep our eyes open to what’s happening in the aviation industry and take cues from other fields as well. The CPO Engine Program was influenced by similar programs in the automobile industry. We’ve drawn inspiration from the technology industry to set up transformation teams specializing in different business focus areas. These teams are tasked with incubating, piloting and launching new solutions – getting them to the point where they are commercialized and scalable.
In order to offer more services, we have to ensure that we have an agile approach to customer service. It’s not just a matter of making a sale. As an organization, you need to be able to respond and execute, so that you’re giving the customer value. That’s key for us.
P&WC organizes various activities to connect with customers and learn what matters to them, including Customer Days and focus groups. Read about a couple of recent examples in Ireland and China.