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Friday, March 1, 2013

Return of the   Ratings

Categories: Overall Performance, Technological Innovations, Direct Operating Costs, Maintenance Issues, Technical Documentation and Assistance, Factory Training, Parts Availability and Customer Support

Type This image of a Robinson R44 appeared in the 2007
Excellence  Ratings, before the introduction of the turbine-
powered R66 in 2010.  What do Robinson operators think of
the R66 in 2013?.

Rotor & Wing is re-launching its Excellence Ratings, which surveys helicopter operators to find out who provides the best customer satisfaction in key areas.

The 2013 Excellence Ratings survey will be conducted during the spring with results published in the June issue. The categories are Overall Aircraft Performance, Technological Innovations, Direct Operating Costs, Maintenance Issues, Technical Documentation, Technical Assistance, Factory Training, Parts Availability and Customer Support.

While we have only featured the Excellence Ratings within the pages of Rotor & Wing on one past occasion, our history conducting this survey is extensive. This year’s effort will in fact mark the seventh time we have undertaken this exercise asking the same key questions, dating back to 1997. Much has changed over the past 15-16 years, and the trend data over time provides a valuable look at the progress and direction in which a company is heading in key areas.

It is important to understand the underlying methodology in order to interpret the true meaning and value of the Excellence Ratings. This is not a popularity contest. No vendor can influence the results by stacking the ballot box. We use our exclusive worldwide current-subscriber list as our starting point, but as the results come in, we analyze the responses and sort the results according to a number of demographic and geographic criteria. The Excellence Ratings as reported in the pages of this magazine are in fact only a subset of the overall results, representing the opinions of those operators in what we define broadly as the “commercial” marketplace, as opposed to “military” operators.

Perception Counts

It is important to note that the Excellence Ratings represent the opinions of those respondents who have vast experience in a particular manufacturer’s aircraft, as well as the opinions of those who have some past experience, as well as those who have very little or no experience whatsoever. In short, these scores will reflect exactly what a prospective helicopter buyer would hear if they performed their own mini-survey of the people they know in the helicopter business before making a purchase decision. Perceptions count. To that end, these results should not be viewed as a pure “customer satisfaction” report card, however.

But make no mistake—this study will also produce detailed data reflecting the opinions of each manufacturer’s actual customers. The answers will also be sorted according to job titles, by geographic location, and by the primary use of the respondent’s helicopter. Does the front office feel differently than the pilot actually flying the aircraft? What about the maintenance staff? Do law enforcement operators seem to prefer one particular manufacturer more than others? Does the geographic location of a respondent’s operation significantly influence their opinion in areas such as parts availability? While the Excellence Ratings will provide a valuable overview, this more detailed data will provide direction for our editorial coverage, as well as valuable insight into areas of opportunity and areas for improvement for the manufacturers themselves as well as any others who may wish to access it.

The Excellence Ratings report will be posted on the Rotor & Wing website and the full report will be available via the shopping cart.

All in the Numbers

Our promise is that what you read in the Excellence Ratings will reflect only the highest level of statistical accuracy. We are not in the business of spreading rumors, nor are we in the business of selling our ratings to the highest bidder via their advertising investment with us, or by any other means for that matter. We will make every effort to gather enough data to report back to you about every manufacturer—from the largest to the smallest and from the United States to Russia, and everywhere in between. But it is all in the numbers. If we do not get enough answers to provide a statistically accurate picture of a particular manufacturer, we will not provide an anecdotal picture.

Why Now?

You may have noticed that the media business is evolving rapidly—even within the relatively small universe of rotorcraft media. The way you get information today differs tremendously from the way you got it just a few short years ago.

While “news” and “entertainment” seem to be becoming commodities that most anyone can deliver to your desktop on a daily basis, trusted insight and expert analysis are becoming ever harder to find and discern.

Our decision to focus on this kind of in-depth, behind-the-scenes data which has long been a part of our operation, simply reflects our recognition of the kind of information that the helicopter market wants and most needs, and most importantly—is not getting from any other source on a regular basis.

Excellence Ratings for the Customer Service category the last time R&W surveyed in 2007. What will the ratings look like in 2013?Ratings   This image of a Robinson R44 appeared in the 2007 Excellence Ratings, before the introduction of the turbine-powered R66 in 2010. What do Robinson operators think of the R66 in 2013?

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