The PC-24 will be Skytech’s fourth market introduction of a clean-sheet, you’ve-never-seen-one-of-these-before aircraft. It follows the Malibu (1983), TBM-700 (1991), and the PC-12 (1994), each of which created a new market segment that still thrives today. And those four introductions don’t count major enhancements to existing designs that were the genesis of the Meridian (2000), PC-12 NG (2008), or M600 (2016). All of our previous introductions share one common feature that was key to the long-term success of the product – a dynamic and fully functional service component that was in place both physically and strategically before the first unit ever made its way to a customer.
With the advent of the PC-24 the establishment of a fully-functional Service Center network has ushered in a level of pre-introduction technical training, parts support, test equipment, and pilot training that we have never seen before. And this from the company whose primary General Aviation product, the PC-12, has been named #1 in Product Support for 16 years in a row, which is a pretty good hint that they know something about customer service. And that comes on the heels of the latest dispatch reliability reports for Pilatus’ military trainer products which now rest at higher than 99%. Talk about prepping the surface before you apply the paint…product support is not a necessary evil at Pilatus, it’s a mindset.
As a group the Pilatus Dealer network is excited about the process. Pilatus literally has a PC-24 Entry Into Service team that has completed a first-hand, around-the-world evaluation of the existing and proposed Service Centers complete with a report card. Either you get straight A’s in very stringent courses or you don’t make it into the network. And their team will be back early next year for a progress check. It’s a demanding – and expensive – buildup of the support system.
One of the major advantages of the Dealer network is that we are, to quote Pilatus CEO Markus Bucher, “locals serving locals”. Our network is geographically dispersed yet concentrated where the operators are. In full support of the Dealer unit is the factory itself, augmenting our own 24 / 7 / 365 support with essentially a duplicate system. And their system reeks of Swiss innovation and precision in everything from the robotic parts warehouse to aircraft that are wirelessly connected to the service network. It is the best of both worlds.
The independently-owned companies that are responsible to service the Pilatus products are the ones that sold the airplane so we have an unparalleled and vested interest in customer satisfaction. The sales person, demo team, contract administrator, delivery specialist, warranty support staff, parts staff, and maintenance staff are all simply different extensions of the same phone number…and they’re all in the same location. It’s a proven and remarkably effective business model.
Skytech’s specific support model, utilizing dedicated service aircraft and portable tooling to augment our physical locations, was created decades ago by the mobility of the products that we support. Ironically, we don’t spend a lot of our marketing budget promoting our service airplanes but our support model pre-dates virtually any of those heavily advertised copycats in the industry. We’re fully prepared to bring that model to bear in regard to the PC-24. If you ever figure out how to break it.