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SIKORSKY MAXIMIZES FLIGHT HOURS


Customers buy helicopters to fly them, not to have them sit on the ground. Anything that can be done to maximize a given helicopter’s availability and reliability will make its owner/operator happy — and make them more likely to buy new helicopters from the same manufacturer when the time comes.


This summarizes Sikorsky’s strategy for customer success despite the economic downturn. “Our goal is to maximize available flight hours within a customer’s existing fleet,” said Simon Gharibian, Sikorsky’s director of fleet management, supportability, and training. “This comes down to making sure our customers have the right support, the right information to maintain their aircraft, and fast access to the right parts to keep their aircraft flying. Do this right, and when it comes time for our customers to choose the manufacturer of their next rotorcraft, chances are that they’ll choose Sikorsky.”


To Sikorsky’s credit, the company is ‘walking the talk’ when it comes to delivering on its promises. It has made substantial investments and operational changes to enhance support to Sikorsky customers. Moreover, these are end-to-end changes, going right back to the design process. “We receive a tremendous amount of HUMS (health and usage management system) data from our S-76 and S-92 helicopters,” Gharibian said. “Sometimes, there are trends in this data that indicate how a component redesign could extend its lifespan and robustness.”


The wealth of Sikorsky HUMS data also aids the company in operating its Fleet Management Center at the company’s 24/7 Customer Care Center in Trumbull, Connecticut.


“Using all the HUMS data that comes from our S-76s and S-92s, we accurately forecast the need for parts and other deliverables around the world,” Gharibian said. “This is because our system not only tells us where each individual S-76 or S-92 is flying, but also where it stands in terms of its operational lifespan and upcoming locational need for parts.” By knowing what will be needed where and when, Sikorsky now can stockpile soon-to-be-needed parts at various forward stocking locations (FSLs), like the one located in Stavanger, Norway, to support S-92s in the oil and gas sector.


Meanwhile, Sikorsky’s Aircraft-On-Ground Response Center keeps a constant eye on Sikorsky helicopters requiring immediate assistance anywhere in the world. Thanks to improvements in its parts prediction/delivery system, Sikorsky has been able to reduce the volume of AOGs by more than 75 percent in recent years, but


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unpredictable events still happen. “Our AOG Resolution Center has a digital map of the world, where the status of every single Sikorsky AOG is updated every 15 minutes,” Gharibian said.


On the operator side of the equation, Sikorsky has merged its online parts inventory search engine and ordering system into the single ‘Sikorsky360’ portal. Then there’s the iFly Sikorsky app. It allows pilots to do takeoff, cruise, hover, and landing calculations on their Apple iPad for the S-76 and S-92 platforms. iFly also can calculate overall aircraft weight and center-of-gravity location, eliminating the need for pilots to carry paper manuals and calculators on board.


Collectively, these are the major steps Sikorsky


has taken to ensure maximum flight hours for its civilian rotorcraft products. “If we want customers to continue to choose Sikorsky products, we must lead the


way in offering the most reliable and easy-to-provision-and-service helicopters in the market,” Gharibian said.


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