AIN Special Reports

Product Support Survey 2015 Part I: Aircraft

 - July 30, 2015, 6:00 AM
In importance second only to building safe and stout aircraft, product support is ultimately how an operator judges the goodness of a working business aircraft.

AIN readers selected Gulfstream as the top provider of product support services for its large-cabin jets in the combined overall average category in the 2015 AIN Product Support Survey, hoisting the company to a solo first-place finish after last year’s tie with Embraer. The Savannah, Ga., airframer’s large jets captured a combined overall average rating of 8.3 this year, up from last year’s 8.1. Embraer retained its 8.1 rating, which moves the Brazilian manufacturer to second place after a tie for first last year, and this year tied with Dassault Falcon, which retained its second-place slot from last year.

In third place this year is Bombardier’s Challenger series, climbing 0.2 to an 8.0 rating and besting its siblings, the Global and Learjet models both with a 7.7 rating (Globals down 0.1 and Learjets up 0.2 from last year). Bombardier’s Globals and Learjets tied for fourth place with Gulfstream’s midsize models (the same 7.7 as last year) and Textron Aviation’s Citations (at 7.7 up 0.3 from last year).

The most significant move this year saw Textron’s Hawker, Premier and Beechjet series up 0.8 to 7.2, likely an indication that the company’s consolidation efforts are paying off.

There are no big surprises in the turboprop segment, with Mitsubishi’s MU-2 still in the top spot, although down slightly to an overall average of 9.1 (which remains the highest of any manufacturer). Pilatus’s PC-12s again took second place, this year with a rating of 7.6, down from 7.9 last year. Textron Aviation’s Beechcraft King Airs saw a jump this year, up 0.4 to 7.4.

In the rotorcraft arena, Bell retained its first-place finish with a strong jump to 7.9 (up 0.7). In a major change, Airbus Helicopters moved from last place to snag the second-place spot, with the largest rating change of any manufacturer, up 1.9 to 7.5. AgustaWestland saw a drop of 0.3 to 6.8, moving from second to third place this year, followed by Sikorsky, down 0.7 to 6.3.

Newer Jets

In the newer jets category, Gulfstream’s large-cabin models secured the top spot again, climbing 0.1 to the highest overall average of 8.3. Significant contributors to Gulfstream’s overall average include top ratings for parts availability (8.5), AOG response (8.7) and warranty fulfillment (9.0).

Dassault’s Falcons moved up 0.4 to gain second place in this category with an overall average of 8.2 and up from third place last year. Authorized service centers (8.6) and technical reps (8.9) contributed to Dassault’s overall average.

In second place last year, Embraer this year scored the same 8.1 overall average, now sharing third place with Gulfstream’s midsize jets. Embraer’s top categories included an 8.5 for its technical manuals.

Gulfstream midsize jets saw a 0.3 jump to 8.1, retaining last year’s third-place finish. Cost of parts (7.4) was the highest category rating for these jets.

On the Bombardier front, both the Challenger and Learjet models’ overall averages climbed this year to 8.0 (0.2 and 0.3, respectively), putting them in fourth place, followed by the Global models with the same 7.8 rating as last year. The Challengers scored highest in overall aircraft reliability at 9.1. Learjet’s highest rating was 7.8 for factory-owned service centers.

In the newer jets category, Textron again received high marks from AIN readers, with a climb in ratings compared to last year. The Citations jumped half a point to 7.8, for a tie with Bombardier’s Globals. Hawker jets climbed 0.4 to 7.0 and the Premier and Hawker 400 are up nearly a point, also to 7.0, aided by highest ratings for technical reps (8.9) and maintenance tracking programs (9.0).

Older Jets

Gulfstream large-cabins took the top spot in this category, with a boost of 0.5 to an overall average of 8.3, pushing Bombardier’s Challengers to second place at 8.0 (same rating as last year). For Gulfstream, factory-owned service centers (7.7), AOG response (8.6), warranty fulfillment (9.1), technical reps (8.6), maintenance tracking programs (9.0) and overall aircraft reliability (9.1) contributed to its top overall average.

Dassault’s Falcons tied with Bombardier’s Challengers for second place at 8.0, with a 0.2 bump for Dassault from last year’s rating. The Challenger top categories included cost of parts (7.1) and technical manuals (8.7). The Falcon top categories were authorized service centers (8.2), parts availability (8.5) and AOG response (tied with Gulfstream at 8.6).

All of the Textron Aviation models in the older jets category climbed compared with last year’s ratings, with the Citations in third place, up from last year’s fourth place. Hawkers had the biggest rating increase of both the newer and older jets, at 1.3, moving into fourth place to tie with Bombardier’s Learjets at 7.5. The Premier and Beechjet models also climbed, up a significant 0.7, to 7.4. Premier and Beechjet models reflect high ratings for factory-owned service centers (7.7, tied with Gulfstream large-cabins) and 8.2 for authorized service centers (tied with Dassault).

Newer Turboprops

Pilatus is the top provider of product support for newer turboprops, according to AIN readers, with a 7.7 overall average, down 0.4 from last year. The company’s highest ratings came in the categories of authorized service centers (7.0), warranty fulfillment (7.9), technical manuals (8.5), technical reps (8.1) and maintenance tracking programs (8.3).

Textron Aviation’s Beechcraft King Airs are catching up, having climbed 0.5 to 7.5 this year, aided by top ratings for factory-owned service centers (7.0), parts availability (7.8) and overall aircraft reliability (8.9).

AIN did not receive enough ratings to include the TBM series or Piper Meridians.

Older Turboprops

No surprises here: Mitsubishi’s MU-2 is still the marque with the highest rating at 9.1 (down slightly 0.1 from last year). In this section, the MU-2s scored highest in all 10 categories, with the highest scores a 9.8 for overall aircraft reliability and 9.7 for technical reps.

Older King Airs are advancing, having climbed 0.3 to 7.3 this year.

Rotorcraft

Bell’s first-place rating is supported by high scores in nine out of 10 categories, having been bested by the 8.4 rating that Airbus Helicopters received for overall aircraft reliability.

AgustaWestland’s top score was a 7.5 for maintenance tracking programs, matching the rating that Bell received in this category.

Most Improved

There were some interesting changes in the category ratings, some showing significant improvements over last year, although not all categories reflected upward moves.

Some of the biggest improvements included, in the newer jets: Dassault Falcon with 8.6 for authorized service centers, up from 7.7 last year; cost of parts, to 7.4 from 5.8 for Gulfstream midsize jets; warranty fulfillment for large-cabin Gulfstreams, to 9.0 from 8.5 last year; technical reps 8.9 for Falcon, compared to 8.4 last year; a climb to 9.0 for Textron Aviation’s Premier and Hawker 400 in the maintenance tracking programs category and 8.9 for technical reps (up 2.0 and 1.7, respectively); and a rating of 9.1 for overall aircraft reliability for Bombardier’s Challengers, up from 8.8 last year.

The avionics product support results will appear in the September issue, with engine results to follow in October.

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AIN 2015 Product Support Survey - Part 1 - Aircraft (614K)

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