28 декабря 2020

Leading successfully through turbulent times

At the end of each year Nesterov Aviation, an authorized Pilatus Sales and Service Centre in Russia, sums up the results of the year. The 2020, despite the pandemic that began in the spring, turned out to be very fruitful for the company at large. Before the upcoming holidays, BizavNews sat down over an excellent cup of coffee with the company's Sales Director, Alexey Mordvintsev and Dmitry Sokolov, Deputy General Director for after-sales aircraft maintenance. The coffee and the story… both were amazing.

Alexey, it’s probably pointless asking you how big of an impact the pandemic has made on the company's business. Let me rephrase, would you say that 2020 is a successful year?

А.М.:It’s been a controversial year, twelve months of constant challenges, but it turns out that 2020 has became the most successful year in the history of our company in terms of sales, number of aircraft delivered and, of course, in terms of aircraft maintenance in our service center. The results that we have by the end of this year are very encouraging – 4 Pilatus aircraft, including 1 PC-12 NG, 1 PC-12 NGX and 2 Pilatus PC-24 aircraft, will be delivered to customers from Russia and the CIS in 2021. We are expecting to sign several more contracts in the beginning of next year.

How many aircraft were delivered to customers in the 12 months period?

А.М.: For Nesterov Aviation team the pandemic began with the delivery of a new PC-12 NG for a client in one of the Russian regions. It was a real script for a Hollywood movie: all the difficulties that had to be faced – closed borders, quarantine, reduced staffing – were eventually overcome and the aircraft was delivered to the client on time. This delivery became a unique case, since before the coronavirus no one had such restrictions and difficulties. Just a few months later, another aircraft was delivered to a client in the CIS, expanding their fleet to 3 PC-12 NG.

Alexey, has it become more difficult to sell aircraft, given the current situation in the world?

А.М.: The pandemic has created many restrictions and difficulties, mainly due to the lack of large specialized events and lockdowns in many countries, which made it more difficult to perform demo-flights for potential customers. The number of options that we use in sales were dramatically reduced, however, we managed to organize several demo-flights, including the Russian premiere of the new PC-12 NGX, and the flagship PC-24 in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. But there is another side to the pandemic – we have made significant progress in online marketing. Many of our clients say that we are the only company that provides all the necessary information on the aircraft we represent. We continue to strengthen our online presence and hope that this tool will continue to help us increase brand awareness. As for the clients, we are confident that our methodic 6 years of hard work as a team is finally paying off and we have managed not only to maintain relations with existing potential clients, but found new ones.

Thanks to Nesterov Aviation’s team perseverance, interest in Pilatus aircraft is constantly increasing and the number of PC-12’s in Russia and the CIS is also growing, they fly more, and  Pilatus authorized service centre in Dobrograd has more work. Dmitry, can you put it in numbers?

D.S.:This is a simple equation, since Nesterov Aviation offers a full range of after-sales support services at all stages of the life cycle. Pilatus aircraft fly to Dobrograd from different parts of our huge country and from neighboring states. Since the opening of the Russian service centre in 2018, the total volume of after-sales services, including related services for the supply of spare parts, technical management and maintenance, has grown 8 times. The number of labor-intensive forms in 2020 has increased by 2.5 times compared to 2019, and since the opening of the service centre – 6 times. I would like to continue Alexey’s thought: none of our competitors can offer such services and solutions on the market, both for the purchase of aircraft and for its after-sales maintenance. 

…….please elaborate.

D.S.: When buying an aircraft from us, the client will understand how and where his aircraft will be maintained. In this regard, we are transparent and, moreover, we make detailed videos talking about each maintenance performed by our engineers in order to show the financial effect of the purchase and future operation. The best evidence of our hard work is that we’ve obtained some new clients who previously preferred to maintain their aircraft in service centers abroad. It was a challenge for us, but we did well and all the customers are satisfied with our work.

And some more good news – in December the service centre got validated by the aviation authorities of Kazakhstan, and we already have a validation from Belorussia, which will allow us to significantly increase the after-sales service market. The first step was to increase the number of spare parts in our own warehouse.

Alexey, have you managed to make Russian clients fall in love with PC-12?

А.М.:It's no secret that the PC-12 has gained popularity among Russian customers in many ways. Among the reasons are economics of operation, capabilities of a turboprop, both in terms of flight characteristics, and operation on unpaved runways. But there’s one more – liquidity in the market. And PC-12 is second-to-none in this regard. Up till now the Swiss manufacturer has delivered more than 1,700 PC-12’s, and on the secondary-aircraft market you can find only 20-25 aircraft of old modifications PC-12/45 and PC-12/47, there are a bit more PC-12 NG’s, though, but these aircraft are sold quickly. This indicates very clearly the high reliability and efficiency of the aircraft, and clients’ affection to the popular turboprop.

What’s your customer profile?

А.М.:Now our client is purchasing an aircraft as a business tool. Although, until recently, such an aircraft was a kind of "toy". For example, one of our new clients has business interests in several regions of Russia, and the aircraft was purchased exactly for optimal logistics, when you need to visit different cities in one day, the distance between them can vary from 1000 to 2000 km. Now the aircraft is starting to be perceived precisely as "an efficient tool for business." We are very pleased that our customers associate the purchase of Pilatus aircraft with a good investment for their business development.

Dmitry, being a single-engine aircraft what are the advantages of PC-12?

D.S.:First of all, it’s the economy. I would like to start by saying that the cost of operating it is significantly different from twin-engine aircraft. Moreover, the aircraft weights less, which affects take-off / landing fees. Subsequent continued airworthiness is also less costly and there are many more factors in favor of single-engine aircraft. Therefore, a client has a choice: either choose the stereotype of a twin-engine aircraft and feel safe psychologically, or significantly save their money and start flying on a single-engine one, besides, the statistics of international safety agencies demonstrate the reliability of a single-engine aircraft.

А.М.:I want to add a comment. The first PC-12 commercial flight took place in the mid-90s. Operational versatility, performance, reliability and low operating costs make Pilatus PC-12 a leader in its class up to this day. A spacious, pressurised cabin, smooth running, acoustic comfort, an isolated toilet, Wi-Fi on board, a big baggage compartment together with a huge side cargo door – all these features and more are available to passengers on PC-12. And when a potential client learns about the operating costs and the highest residual value of the aircraft on the market after five years, the choice becomes obvious.

Dmitry, what PC-12 advantages would you highlight specifically for the Russian clients?

D.S.:The main advantage of the PC-12 is the ability to operate from super-short, unpaved runways, which is very important for our country. Despite the fact that the government is now investing a lot in infrastructure projects, most of the runways are not in the best condition. I don’t mean it as criticism, we have a huge country with different terrain, it takes time and I am sure that the number of high-quality runways will increase soon. PC-12 is a work-horse, it can land on gravel, snow, grass. It takes very little time to prepare it for departure without any additional airport infrastructure. Imagine, the aircraft arrives, practically "services itself" and is already ready for the return flight. And the most important thing is versatility in operation. In less than 1 hour 2 rear seats can be dismantled, and the baggage compartment of the aircraft is expanded enough to fit a motorcycle! The side cargo door is 1.35 m high and 1.32 m wide, and the flat floor gives a huge variety of options for using cargo space at 100%. I want to point out that the passenger cabin is as close as it gets to the comfort of a business jet.

Alexey, what is your opinion on the РС-12 NGX modification?

А.М.: To begin with, this year for the first time our Russian clients were able to get a full experience on board the new PC-12 NGX during a few demo flights. The modifications in the aircraft are the result of a consistent work to improve the aircraft even further. The first major changes began to take place in 2008: analog instruments were replaced with a modern digital navigation system, the appearance of the aircraft was updated in 2016 (a five-blade propeller was installed and aerodynamics were improved), and now there was a change in the internal systems and the cabin. The scale of the upgrades turned out to be so significant that it was decided to change the abbreviation from NG to NGX.

“Pilatus is always very attentive to the feedback of all its customers, so the requests of even the most demanding Russian clients were taken into account. The PC-12 NGX is so close to the class of business jets that the fact that this is a turboprop aircraft is now evident only due to a propeller, ”said Mikhail Alenkin, managing partner at Nesterov Aviation, in an interview. The first delivery of this aircraft to Russia is scheduled for the first quarter of 2021. 

Dmitry, are you getting ready to maintain the NGX?

D.S.:Of course, the service centre is already fully preparing for work on the new flagship PC-12 NGX. The engineering staff already completed training at Pilatus in Stans, and training for the new PT6E-67XP engine is planned for the first quarter of 2021. There are also purchases of the necessary tools and equipment for maintenance. This year one of our personal records was a simultaneous maintenance of three PC-12’s. Due to the increase in the volume of the service centre, as well as preparations for maintaining the new flagships PC-24 and PC-12 NGX, it has already been decided to expand the area and build a new hangar next year.

Not long ago the PC-24 obtained a Russian type certificate, which obviously was one of the most important events for Nesterov Aviation and its Russian clients. Alexey, tell us when the first aircraft will be delivered to Russia?

А.М.: We have been waiting for this moment a long time, and it is equally joyful for Nesterov Aviation and Pilatus Aircraft. Now the PC-24 is certified in Russia. This is yet another reason for the Russian clients to become PC-24 owners. As an Authorized Sales and Service Pilatus centre in Russia, Nesterov Aviation wants to thank the Russian aviation authorities, Rosaviation, in particular, for the well-coordinated work and support during all certification stages.

The first PC-24 delivery in the Russian Aircraft Register will be realized in 2021. Therefore, the preparation for maintenance of this type has already begun in the service centre. The purchase of new equipment and special tools goes hand in hand with personnel training, further certification in accordance with Russian aviation requirements, and obtaining all necessary authorizations from manufacturers.

Nesterov Aviation team wishes everyone Happy Holidays and fruitful work next year!