Gulfstream index defines users’ value/need ratios

 - January 31, 2008, 5:40 AM

Gulfstream Aerospace has made refinements to the computer-based business aircraft ownership evaluation tool–called the Ownership Experience Index–that it introduced at last year’s NBAA Convention in Orlando, Fla. Allan Baylis, Gulfstream sales engineer, was on hand at Gulfstream’s LABACE exhibit in São Paulo, Brazil, in March to show attendees how to use the program to help identify the business jet that provides the best value for their particular needs–which may or may not be a Gulfstream airplane. Gulfstream’s customer advisory board recommended many of the refinements, he said.

The tool expands on the traditional value index factors that include range, cabin volume, speed, balanced field length and price. Added are numerous other parameters grouped under “technology” (Does the airplane have a HUD, enhanced vision system, advanced integrated avionics? What is its Mmo, max flight level, cabin pressurization altitude, noise ratings, engine shutdown rate and so on?); “service and support” (How many company-owned and authorized service centers and tech reps are available? Does the OEM have a customer advisory board?); and “cost of ownership” (What is the direct operating cost, residual value, dispatch reliability, TBOs, warranty periods, etc?). Many parameters require a value judgment on the part of the program user. Gulfstream sales engineers and marketing people had to make some arbitrary decisions when rating certain items (for example, Gulfstream’s PlaneView cockpit compared with Falcon’s EASy avionics), but the user is free to adjust these ratings to his or her own preference or judgment.

The four groups of parameters are then weighted and totaled to provide an overall index of aircraft ownership value. Reflecting greater emphasis on service, support and ongoing ownership costs, the customer advisory group weighted the groups as follows: scaled value index (the traditional value indicators), 20 percent; technology factors, 15 percent; service and support factors, 35 percent; and cost of ownership factors, 30 percent. Program users, however, can adjust these weights as desired, as long as the total equals 100 percent.

Data for all current Gulfstream airplanes is included with the program, along with as complete data as Gulfstream can obtain for its competitors’ products. “We used numerous sources and are continually updating the data,” Baylis said.

Depending on individual parameter ratings and group weightings, Gulfstream products do not always come out on top when compared to competitors and sometimes Gulfstream’s own lower-end offerings have higher total Ownership Experience Index values than the top-end offerings. The G300 and G500 beat the G400 and G550, respectively, when using the standard weights assigned by Gulfstream’s customer advisory board. However, skewing the weights more toward the traditional values and technology parameters gives the longer-range, more heavily equipped and costlier G400 and G550 the edge.

Gulfstream’s Web site (www.gulfstream. com/oei) provides an introduction to the evaluation tool, but does not yet provide a way for users to adjust the parameters. However, by the end of this month, Baylis told AIN, Gulfstream expects to post an online version of the program that will permit manipulation of the four major index factors (traditional value index, technology, service and support and cost of ownership), though not the detailed parameters within these main groups.