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Pratt & Whitney in Africa: Q and A with Kaval Shah, Regional Sales Manager

We recently sat down with Kaval Shah, Pratt & Whitney’s Regional Sales Manager for Africa to learn about the company’s growing footprint on the continent. We talked numbers, service, support, training and a great deal more.

As Africa develops, the need for transport is growing fast. Is the continent considered to be a hot spot in terms of aviation development?

Africa’s aviation sector is indeed growing, and the continent is a strategic market for Pratt & Whitney. We have been growing our support over the past few years. Aviation is a key facilitator for economic growth and support.

How many engines do you have on the continent and which are the most common?

We have over 3 000 engines and auxiliary power units in service across Africa in all our market sectors of helicopter, business, regional and general aviation. 

The PT6 is the proven choice in Africa, powering a diverse range of missions: passenger transport, security and defence, emergency medical services, search and rescue and other humanitarian missions, connecting the people and growing the economy of the region.

You opened offices and Mobile Repair Team (MRT) bases in South Africa and Kenya in 2017. How do these bases operate?

In Phase 1 of our Africa support growth, the teams are located in two key hubs of aviation activity. They have the required training and tooling to travel and support our African customers for on-wing maintenance and repair. 

Which countries are serviced by each base?

The Africa MRT bases offer a truly flexible service whereby we can support any country in Africa from either base, matching customer requirements with available capability and capacity. 

We have a centralised Control Centre in Germany that coordinates MRT activity across the Africa, Middle East and European regions.

In the last few months, the Africa team has supported customers in South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, Cameroon, Congo, Mozambique and the Ivory Coast.

Are your clients all large operators or do you also offer support to private plane owners and small businesses?

Pratt & Whitney Canada has nearly 14 000 operators, 40 000 aircraft and almost 65 000 engines and auxiliary power units in service worldwide. The vast majority of our customers operate two or fewer aircraft.

We have developed a comprehensive customer service network to be able to support all operators, from large regional airlines to single-aircraft private operators. For us it is about getting close to the customer.

What type of technical support do you offer?

The P&WC Africa team can offer full technical support for all our products.  The primary point of contact for technical support would be a Field Support Manager. 

We also have a 24/7 Customer First Centre ready to serve customers virtually anywhere in the world. Additionally, customers have access to MyP&WC Power, our online customer portal that lets customers connect with us anytime, anywhere to rapidly and easily manage their engine services and support needs.

Do you have plans to extend and expand your offering?

In 2021, we are further expanding our footprint in Africa with the opening of a Fast / Rapid Repair Station at Wilson Airport in Nairobi, Kenya. We will be able to support PT6 and PW100 engine family heavy maintenance repairs up to hot section at this facility, which is planned to go live from Q2 2021.

We are also looking at providing rental engine and spare parts solutions from this site.

What makes P&W’s service and technical offering unique?

As engine manufacturers, we provide a fully comprehensive suite of services and solutions to our customers for their P&W engines through their full life.  Our engines fly in nearly every single country and territory in the world. 

We have set our customer service network to support covering all aspects, from technical support, publications, training, warranty, maintenance, repair and overhaul, engine sales and exchanges, engineering services, digital engine services, parts maintenance and sales, and more.

Can you tell us about the training P&W offers to operators?

Together with FlightSafety International (FSI), we provide our customers with world-wide access to first-class engine training. In collaboration with FlightSafety International we offer expanded customer training opportunities at 12 Learning Centres around the world. Full course availability is on the FlightSafety International website.

We also hold regular customer conferences across the region covering technical updates and best practices in operating and maintaining P&W engines. In the past year, we have transitioned these events onto online webinars.

What percentage of P&W’s global business do the African bases generate?

Africa represents about 6% of our global market in terms of engine numbers.  However, one interesting fact about the Africa market is the higher utilisation of some of the aircraft types versus the rest of the world. 

In what ways have you seen Covid-19 change the aviation environment on the continent? Are you taking any extra steps to support your clients?

Pratt & Whitney Canada has a diversified portfolio powering over 200 platforms across six key segments and 15 end-markets with an installed base of nearly 65 000 engines and auxiliary power units. While the pandemic has had a shattering impact on commercial aviation, we continue powering essential services, like security and defence, cargo, emergency medical services and other humanitarian missions.

The aviation industry has played a crucial role in combatting the virus, via the transport of patients and Covid-19 tests and, more recently, the distribution of doses of vaccine, using aircraft powered by Pratt & Whitney, including turboprops used in general aviation and regional aviation, and turboshaft engines powering helicopters around the world.

As a company, the health and wellbeing of our employees, customers and suppliers remains our number one priority. As a global team, we are committed to supporting the people who operate Pratt & Whitney engines.

Our customer first centre remains fully operational and available 24/7.  Our field support managers and regional sales managers are also still accessible, although we continue to be subject to travel restrictions.  The customer portal is operating normally, giving customers access to publications collections, maintenance plans, parts ordering and a host of other services. 

Our mobile repair technicians have been supporting customers on-wing at the Africa bases and in other countries, subject to the travel restrictions.

To remotely support our customers, a digital tool − Onsight by Librestream − is available. It enables personalised assistance from a distance. Launched at the beginning of 2017, it helps us to continue meeting operators’ support needs even when on-site visits are not possible due to timing issues or factors beyond our control.

Thanks to Onsight’s capabilities, including remote-camera control, on-screen drawing and borescope connectivity, it’s almost like the field support manager is physically on site. It also offers enterprise-grade security to ensure customers’ data is protected. The basic Onsight service is free of charge and is available for iOS or Android devices.

We are continuously monitoring the evolving situation within our industry as it relates to the impact of the pandemic on our operations and that of our suppliers and customers. We are determined to work with all the relevant stakeholders to help minimise any negative effects of the pandemic.

Despite the challenges that aviation has been facing since last March, Pratt & Whitney has been working closely with its employees, customers and suppliers to help them adapt to the new realities in their businesses. As we continue to push forward with new, innovative capabilities and services, we are focused on helping them thrive as our industry gradually returns to more normal times.