While Pratt & Whitney Canada continues to be Canada's top research and development house dollar for dollar, new products are but one ingredient in the engine maker's bid to emerge stronger when the economy turns around.

Company president John Saabas says gains in customer service and workforce restructuring are key elements in a leaner and stronger P&WC. "We restructured our aftermarket offerings last year with the Customer First initiative," says Saabas. "As a result, we reduced aircraft-on-ground times in the USA for parts availability by 50%."

Launched in May 2007, the Customer First initiative provides rapid response service for its 10,000 customers in 193 countries. At NBAA, the company is celebrating the delivery of its 70,000th engine, a PT6A-60A turboshaft that was shipped to Hawker Beechcraft for a King Air 350, says Saabas.

Saabas says the Customer First centre and mobile repair team is closing in on a return-to-service goal of 24h, the time it takes between the reporting of a problem and return to the air. In September, Saabas says the team achieved a 26h return-to-service figure in the USA, down from 40h previously, improvements made possible in part by structural changes in the organization.

Saabas says certification for the new PW535E turbofan for the Embraer Phenom 300 is imminent, and the new PW307B engine is moving forward for the all-composite Learjet 85.

An overarching theme of all its efforts is a new "green agenda" that Saabas says infiltrates all activities from design, to how engines are built and operated, to how they will be disposed at end-of-life.

Key to emerging from the downturn stronger and leaner has been facility closures that "allow us to make structural changes", says Saabas. The company in late September said it would cut its global workforce by roughly 500 by year's end and close a facility in Quebec by the end of 2010. The larger goal is to consolidate manufacturing, aftermarket and research and development activities.

"The cost-cutting measures give us ability to keep investing. We're positioning ourselves to keep investing so that when the economy picks up, we'll have new services and a new leaner structure," says Saabas.

Source: Flight Daily News