Sept. 12, 2017, (c) Leeham Co., Montreal: Preparations by airlines to evacuate passengers and ultimately their own airplanes from the paths of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma were well covered.
The departure of corporate and general aviation airplanes hit Twitter with Flighttracker images.
But less known is how one giant aerospace company prepared to help customers right down to the little guy in general aviation.
From PT6 to Corporate Jet engines
Tim Swail, Vice President of Customer Programs at PWC, is the head of customer service for all
PWC products, from the PT6 turboprop on small airplanes and helicopters to turboprops on the Bombardier Q400 and ATR’s 42/72 and the latest jet engines on corporate airplanes.
The “C-First” (Customer First) center at the Montreal headquarters geared up in advance of the record-breaking, history-making hurricanes, Harvey and Irma, in the US to let all its customers know that C-First was ready to help.
“We reached out to Texas and Florida customers before and after the hurricanes to let them know we were ready to help,” Swail told LNC in an interview this week.
“Calls spiked before the hurricanes as people tried to protect their assets,” he said. “If the need arises, we have 13,000 employees who we can tap. We also can tap authorized MRO facilities.”
Swail said PWC can bring people from all over the country to get aircraft going in advance of a disaster or repair them afterward.
“We have an extensive array of engines to rent,” he said. “We can reposition them from other parts of the world.”
PWC’s PT6 engine is the most prolific turboprop in service. It’s on many general aviation aircraft as well as a growing number of utility airplanes, such as the Quest Kodiac, Cessna Caravan and Pilatus. The PT6 is also a staple in powering helicopters.
The PW127 and PW150 power the Q400 and ATR airliners. The new PW800s are on the new Gulfstream business jets that are now in flight testing.
PWC’s C-First center serves them all, more than 62,000 engines in service. And it doesn’t matter if the customer is one of the world’s richest men or a weekend flier. C-First reacts to calls and it reaches out in advance of disasters.
“We’ve responded to many of these situations in the past,” Swail said, referring to hurricanes or similar events. “We have a good playbook.”
The C-First Center fields calls for problems reacting to aircraft-on-the-ground (AOG) situations to a
customer needing assistance.
Information also comes into the center electronically from engine monitoring systems from airlines or corporate jets. More than 50% of the Q400 fleet, for example, is part of PWC’s “FAST” reporting system. This enabled PWC to monitor engine health, which in turn allows C-First to often spot engine systems issues before the airline does. This can reduce the time on the ground when a mechanic is needed to address the problem. (More on FAST will be described in a subsequent article.)
A recent innovation is the use of live video streaming, with the ability of the owner or mechanic to live-stream to C-First and annotate the picture. Audio can accompany the live stream or standard telephone/texting/email is used.
C-First’s principal customer service center is in Montreal. A second one is in Singapore.