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Saturday, March 1, 2008

Heli-Expo Show Day: Pratt & Whitney Seeks to Hone Customer Service Edge

PRATT & WHITNEY CANADA IS building on what it sees as "a key competitive advantage" over other helicopter engine makers by enhancing its customer support services.

"We take the whole aftermarket very seriously because we feel it is a key competitive advantage for us," said John Saabas, executive vice president of the Longueuil, Quebec-based firm.

In the past year, P&WC (Booth 3431) has reorganized its customer service to streamline resolution of operators’ problems. In addition, the manufacturer has expanded its worldwide parts-distribution network and is developing a new program tailored to help helicopter operators’ management of engine fleets.

On the new engine front, P&WC is moving forward on certification testing of the 1,000-shp-class PW210 that will power Sikorsky Aircraft’s new S-76D. Saabas said the company also is discussing applications of the PW210 with other airframe manufacturers.

P&WC has reorganized its global support network around what it is calling the Customer First Center, which is based in Quebec and operates around the clock. Intended as a rapid-response capability to address customer concerns, the center is based on what P&WC calls the "event manager."

This manager serves as a single point of contact for an operator with an engine issue. To enable that, the event manager is given access to a team of specialists from key aftermarket support services — technical support, logistics, service engineering, engine maintenance programs, warranty services, and replacement engine rentals.

"Let’s just say a customer’s had foreign-object damage on an engine and needs to replace that engine," Saabas said. "It used to be that the customer had to call the help desk, the leasing company to rent an engine, the mobile repair team to have them come in and change the engine out. The customer would be doing all that logistics and scheduling. Now the customer calls one place and we schedule the event. We take care of whatever needs to happen to get him up and flying."

P&WC said that new center is complemented by the expansion of its parts-distribution network in Europe and Asia, with new distribution centers in Amsterdam and Singapore.

Both will support customers previously supplied from other P&WC locations, the company said, and offer and offer an inventory of new parts, exchange accessories and line-replaceable units for all P&WC engine models.

On the PW210, P&WC has five engines in development and has been working on icing certification, endurance testing, and mechanical shakedowns.

"We’re doing as much as we can get done to be ready for the software validation" when Sikorsky’s S-76D program is ready for that, Saabas said.

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