Pratt & Whitney Canada – Putting the Customer First

Every second, a Pratt & Whitney Canada-powered aircraft takes off or lands somewhere in the world. It powers the largest fleet of business and regional aircraft and helicopters — more than 50,000 engines on more than 28,000 aircraft around the world. It boasts more than 10,000 operators and more than 600 airlines in more than 200 countries. If ever there was a reason to put the customer first, there it is.


We spoke with Raffaele Virgili, vice president of customer service for Pratt & Whitney Canada, about its Customer-First Support Centers. Virgili began his career at Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC) in 1983 and has held positions of increasing responsibility within the engineering, marketing and service centers organizations in Canada, the United States and Europe. He was appointed vice president of repairs and overhaul for service centers in 2006 and vice president of service centers in 2007. He was later appointed vice president of operations for customer service in 2008.

Virgili holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in mechanical engineering from McGill University, as well as a master’s degree in thermal energy (gas turbine engine technology) from the Cranfield Institute of Technology in the United Kingdom.

Helicopter Maintenance– What is the Customer-First Center?

Virgili– The Customer-First Center offers a multidisciplinary team representing key resources from across our aftermarket network. This group of talented employees is dedicated to providing responsive and proactive support to our customers.

The Customer-First Center is a key part of our drive to take our frontline services to the next level. This initiative brings together all of the key elements to improve our responsiveness, getting the customer back in the air as soon as possible and quickly addressing any issues or questions. The Customer-First Center also improves the overall customer experience, making it easier for customers to do business with us. It’s all about driving continuous improvement in everything we do for our customers.

Available services include:

• AOG/critical emergency services

• Technical/maintenance consultation

• Engine/spare parts delivery status

From a helicopter perspective, Pratt & Whitney Canada is a leading turboshaft engine supplier in the global light-single, light-twin and medium helicopter markets. We offer a wide range of advanced technology products for dependable performance and continuing the rugged legacy of the PT6T Twin-Pac.

Operators of PT6 and PW200 series engines are supported by our industry-leading global customer support. This includes over 30 P&WC owned and designated service facilities around the world. We also have more than 100 field support representatives on all major continents, a 24/7 Customer-First Center for rapid expert support, the most advanced diagnostic capabilities for this market and the largest pool of P&WC rental and exchange engines in the industry. P&WC’s helicopter engine support has also been consistently ranked No. 1 by operators in Pro Pilotmagazine’s annual powerplant support survey.

Helicopter Maintenance – Where is the Customer-First Center located?

Virgili– The first Customer-First Center (CFirst) was opened in 2007, in Longueil, which is a suburb of Montreal, in Quebec. CFirst brings together a multidisciplinary and multilingual support team of 21 specialists to resolve issues so that customers can return to service quickly. Last year, we announced the continued expansion of our customer service capabilities to serve the Asia-Pacific region from our operational hub located in Singapore. The Singapore operation includes 15 new team members, including managers, engineers, two CFirst event managers providing front-line support, and accessories specialists who provide support on the full complement of P&WC engines located in the region. These new employees are co-located with P&WC SEA, P&WC’s repair and overhaul facility, opened in 1983, located in the Loyang Industrial Estate next to Singapore’s Changi Airport.

Helicopter Maintenance– What is the Customer First Center’s mission statement?

Virgili– It is both the team goal and mission statement. I would like to think that each time a customer deals with us, it is an enjoyable experience. We can have whatever metrics we want to use, but at the end of the day, it is the customer that ultimately decides if we are No. 1 or not.

Helicopter Maintenance– What are the Customer-First Centers’ hours of operation?

Virgili – Both are open 24/7/365. We actually handle about 130,000 customer requests each year. That doesn’t include our calls out to customers, which come in at about 60,000. We receive requests by phone, e-mail and even by fax. For all those requests that come in other than by phone, we review the request, do our internal homework and call or write the customer back with the necessary solutions.

Helicopter Maintenance– What should a customer do before calling for help?

Virgili– Each case is unique, but what we can say is that the more information that an operator is able to provide, the faster we are able to resolve the issue at hand. Having the maintenance history ready is very helpful and photos definitely help. We also recently launched a new tool called Spotlight (available for the PW100, PW200 and PW300 engine models with the balance of the models in development). Spotlight is an industry-leading software package that assists the operator in troubleshooting. It greatly assists and accelerates determining the root issue so that immediate focus can be brought to bear on the problem at hand. Operators are encouraged to use it to troubleshoot prior to calling so that a fair amount of ground work is already accomplished when they make the call. They can then share with us the data collected and we have a more exact picture of what is going on.

Helicopter Maintenance– When the customer takes delivery of a new helicopter with P&WC engines, they get a set of publications from the helicopter’s OEM. With the delivery of that helicopter, there are many technical publications, either in electronic or paper form. With that delivery, is there any listed place the customer can look for P&WC engine technical support information? How do they know that the Customer First Center exists and how to find it?

Virgili – New customers receive an information package which we call an entry into service package that includes the name of their field service representative (FSR) and instructions on how to access our technical publications and our customer portal. Additionally, they receive information on warranty, mobile repair team information, our pay-per-hour programs, advanced diagnostics, engine rentals and exchanges, repair and overhaul facilities, accessory maintenance information, parts ordering, web interactive engine trend monitoring, engine preservation, maintenance intervals, etc. Our Web site carries our contact information as well. In any event, one call to our CFirst Center can assist any operator at any time with whatever engine-related information they may require. We try to make it as easy as possible for the operator.

Helicopter Maintenance– Any tips you would like to share with our readers?

Virgili – I would just like to reiterate that CFirst is at their service every hour of every day … no exceptions. We are their frontline response team and we make sure all efforts are coordinated to return their AOG aircraft back to the skies in a timely manner.

Putting the customer first is what PW&C Customer-First Support Centers are all about.