The results of this year’s AIN Product Support Survey are in, and some big changes have upended last year’s rankings.
Embraer and Gulfstream tied for first place in jets, having each dropped to an overall average of 8.1 from last year’s number (8.2 and second place for Embraer and 8.3 and first place for Gulfstream). This is the first time in many years that Gulfstream hasn’t owned the top spot by itself. Two more OEMs tied for second place. Bombardier’s support for Globals and Challengers jumped to number two from last year’s tie for sixth place, a major gain that might reflect the enormous efforts Bombardier has put into product support. And Dassault’s support for Falcons made a giant leap to number two from last year’s seventh place.
In third place are Gulfstream’s midsize jets with a 7.7 rating, the same number but up two places from fifth last year.
On its own in fourth place is Bombardier’s Learjet support, down one place and four tenths of a point to 7.5 from last year.
Cessna’s Citations also dropped four-tenths of a point, to 7.4 and fifth place, down from last year’s 7.8 and fourth place.
Boeing Business Jets, which received enough ratings to appear on this year’s list, scored 7.3 for sixth place.
In a tie for seventh place at 6.4–down from 6.9 last year–are the now former Hawker Beechcraft jets, which for most of the period surveyed were not yet owned by Textron. The results for the past few years may reflect the turmoil that preceded Textron’s purchase of Beechcraft earlier this year.
The turboprop segment saw the same rankings as last year, headed by perennial favorite Mitsubishi for its support of the MU-2 at 9.2 (down from 9.4 last year), followed by Pilatus for the PC-12 in second place at 7.9 (the same as last year). Beechcraft’s support for the King Air fleet garnered 7.0, down two-tenths of a point from last year.
For rotorcraft, the rankings are the same as last year’s, with Bell Helicopter retaining the lead at 7.2, up one-tenth from last year. AgustaWestland takes second place, but with a significant climb to 7.1 from 6.5 last year. Also achieving a large jump in ratings is third-place Sikorsky at 7.0, up from last year’s 6.3. Airbus Helicopters’ (formerly Eurocopter) ratings are up one-tenth of a point, to 5.6.
Newer Business Jets
In the newer business jets category, Gulfstream retains its first-place lead at 8.2 (down from 8.5 last year), and with a slimmer margin over second-place Embraer’s 8.1. In a four-way tie for third place at 7.8 are Bombardier’s Challengers and Globals, Dassault’s Falcons and Gulfstream’s midsize jets. All climbed in ratings from last year, except for the Gulfstreams, which remained steady at 7.8.
Bombardier’s Learjets claimed fourth place at 7.7, down three-tenths of a point from last year. In fifth are Cessna’s Citations (7.5, down from 8.0), followed by Hawker Beechcraft in sixth (Hawker jets, 6.6) and Premier/Beechjet/Hawker 400/400XP at 6.4, reductions of 0.1 and 0.4, respectively.
Older Business Jets
The Bombardier Challenger series moved up to first place in the older jets category this year, with 8.0, up from 7.7 and a tie for second place last year. Dassault Falcon saw a four-tenths jump in this category, tying for second place at 7.8 with Gulfstream, which dropped three-tenths of a point. Bombardier’s Learjets scored third place at 7.4, down from 7.7 and also down one level from last year. In fourth place are Cessna’s Citations at 7.3, down four-tenths of a point from second place last year, followed by Beechcraft’s Premier/Beechjet/Hawker 400XP down to 6.7 from 7.0 and the Hawker jets at 6.2, down a full point from last year.
Newer and Older Turboprops
Pilatus is once again top of the rankings for newer turboprops with a rating of 8.1 this year, up two-tenths of a point from last year. Beechcraft’s King Air nearly held steady in second place, with a one-tenth of a point drop to 7.0 from 7.1 last year. As in the past, AIN did not receive enough ratings for Piper or TBM turboprops for those aircraft to be listed in the final results.
The older turboprops are dominated by Mitsubishi’s MU-2s, followed by Beechcraft’s King Airs. Although there are hundreds more Twin Commanders flying than MU-2s, this type also did not receive enough ratings to be listed.
Rating the Categories
Some numbers jumped out from the 10 categories in the AIN Product Support Survey. Gulfstream’s newer jets 9.0 rating for overall aircraft reliability is the highest for all the jets, although it matched the 9.0 received by Pilatus for newer turboprops. The nearly perfect 9.9 rating from Mitsubishi MU-2 owners and operators reflects ongoing admiration of the support for that high-performance turboprop.
AOG response and warranty fulfillment are important categories, and here too Gulfstream is highly ranked, although Embraer also saw a high number in both categories. Embraer and Bombardier (Challengers and Globals) scored higher in the technical representatives category, another important area where OEMs interact with customers.
The perennially vilified cost-of-parts category remains one of the low points, but here Embraer scored relatively high at 7.1. Ratings were higher in the parts-availability section, with Gulfstream scoring the highest at 8.3 for newer jets. Dassault Falcon took the lead in parts availability for older jets, possibly a reflection of its efforts to keep its Falcon 10, 20 and 50 models flying as well as its endeavor to reduce parts prices; at 6.2 it scored the highest in the older jets cost-of-parts category.
Sikorsky scored the highest number in the 10 categories for rotorcraft, with an 8.5 for all-important technical representatives.