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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Rotorcraft Report: MD Helicopters CEO Reports Improvements

PRODUCTS | AIRFRAMES

MD Helicopters CEO Lynn Tilton took the podium at Heli-Expo to say the company is well on its way back to a position of power in the industry. But before doing so, she blasted journalists for painting an unfair picture of the company.

Tilton’s smile was just as unwavering as her attack on aviation publications for only reporting what she called "bad news," rather than the improvements in sales, parts availability, and customer satisfaction MD has generated since her investment company Patriarch Partners took it over in mid-2005. She said the company delivered 32 new aircraft last year and has a current parts-order fill rate of more than 90 percent. She also said the EMS operator California Shock Trauma Air Rescue (CALSTAR) had ordered five new MD-902 Explorers.

While happy with the 32 aircraft delivered last year, Tilton said MD would have sold at least 10 more had Honeywell, which makes instrument-related components for MD’s entire product line, not discontinued one part without notice. (Asked about that comment, Honeywell said it is unaware of any delays that held up MD deliveries, adding it "worked diligently to support MD and provided all support as requested by MD.)

"I still maintain that we have made this business too complex," said Tilton of the reliance on outside suppliers. She has begun paring MD’s roughly 500 suppliers.

Tilton has launched a warranty program called MD Power that will cover every major component of MD’s helicopters, regardless of age. Customers can choose coverage based upon a monthly payment or time on the aircraft. "The program is fully transferable when you sell your helicopter," she said. "In whatever way you choose to tap MD Power, our objective is to keep you in the air." — Ernie Stephens

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