Do the OEMs Support Aircraft Owners in Africa?

Felipe Reisch spoke with industry leaders in Africa to learn about the popular aircraft models entering the continent, and which OEMs have established the best support networks for owners, operators, and corporate flight departments…

Felipe Reisch  |  11th July 2023
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Felipe Reisch
Felipe Reisch

Felipe Reisch works as a public relations consultant for private aviation companies worldwide, leading...

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Pilatus' PC-24 is proving popular in Africa


In every continent, the popularity of certain aircraft tends to evolve. Africa is no exception. While turboprops remain the ideal aircraft throughout the region for many operators, due to Africa’s unique geographical conditions and infrastructure certain jets are gaining in popularity too.

Justin Reeves, CEO of Comair Flight Services based in South Africa, has seen how the likes of the older Gulfstream GIIs and GIIIs have been replaced by newer aircraft. “In recent years, we have observed a shift where many [older business jets] are being decommissioned, and the Dassault Falcon 900-series is becoming increasingly popular in the region, alongside a few classic Bombardier Global Expresses.

“Additionally, we’ve witnessed the addition of several pre-owned Dassault Falcon 2000-series aircraft to the South African register.”

Rebecca Johnson, President of Sales for the EMEA region at JetHQ, agrees with Reeves’ observation regarding the rising popularity of Dassault Falcon models. “We are seeing an increase in Dassault Falcons being sold into the African markets, and pretty much [these are utilized by] a mixed bag of private and government use.

In fact, Johnson adds that a large percentage of buyers purchasing private jets in those markets have government ties.

Similarly, Dawit Lema, Founder and CEO of Ethiopia-based Krimson Aviation, is seeing larger jets coming into the region. “We are seeing an increase in long-range jets led by the Bombardier’s Global Express and Challenger models, as well as Embraer’s Legacy and Gulfstream’s GIV. The next most popular jet type is the Cessna Citation family of jets.”

While the previous may serve as good news for a wider pre-owned market, Reeves notes that there have been limited instances of new aircraft entering service in Africa. “The larger jets have predominantly been acquired by private or corporate flight departments and are not readily available for charter,” he notes.

Nevertheless, Pascal Wyss, Director of Sales, and Marketing at the Pilatus PC-12 Centre Southern Africa, adds that in terms of factory-new aircraft, the Pilatus PC-24 has certainly been well received in Africa since customer deliveries began in early 2018.

That should come as little surprise given the jet’s unique ability to utilize short, unimproved runways. “There are currently seven PC-24s based on the continent with another two on the way in the next 12 months,” Wyss says. “The PC-24 has been the most delivered factory business jet on the African continent in the past five years.”

Turboprop Delivery Overview

As stated, Turboprops are particularly popular across the African markets. They are well known to allow customers to travel to regional destinations that are either inadequately serviced or entirely overlooked by the local airline industry.

Coupled with the persisting challenges of the road and rail infrastructure in the continent, experts anticipate a continued trend of new customers in these markets. Wyss, for example, has seen a notable increase in customer interest from West and East Africa.

“We anticipate this interest to grow as regional African economies develop and the benefits of Business Aviation become more apparent to potential customers in a local and regional travel setting,” he projects. In 2022, Pilatus PC-12 Centre Southern Africa delivered two factory-new PC-12NGXs in Africa, and so far in 2023 it has delivered one PC-12NGX with another delivery scheduled in Q3 2023.

The Cessna Caravan and the Beechcraft King Air – both of which fall under the Textron Aviation brand – are also very popular in Africa. In terms of recent deliveries for both models, Duncan Van De Velde, Textron Aviation’s Vice President of Sales for Europe, confirmed they delivered five aircraft to Africa in 2022, including three Grand Caravan EXs and two Beechcraft King Air 260s.

Yet there are challenges ahead for buyers, mainly emanating from economic instability and prevailing bureaucracy. Consequently, specifically in South Africa, Reeves has observed a contraction in the local business aircraft register in South Africa.

“Our local economy is currently facing significant challenges resulting in a devaluation of the Rand,” he explains.

“Many aircraft owners have found it financially advantageous to sell their aircraft at fair dollar prices, often resulting in a substantial profit when converted to Rand, while simultaneously exploring opportunities in other territories with stronger economies, currencies, and simplified bureaucratic processes.”

Manufacturer Aircraft Service Networks in Africa

With the aircraft pool in Africa increasing, the availability of trustworthy, factory-authorized service centers is vitally important for new and established aircraft owners alike – especially those based in Africa’s more remote locations.

The importance of a manufacturer’s responsiveness cannot be overstated, as highlighted by the frustrations experienced by Comair in the past.

“The company has encountered several major support issues with some jets in the fleet,” Reeves reports. “Despite being enrolled in support programs which are typically advertised as providing ‘priority support’, some of these aircraft have experienced AOG situations lasting weeks or even months.”

Adding insult to injury, Reeves says that one OEM increased their rates by 30-40% per hour, citing inflation and supply issues, while their products remain AOG for weeks due to the unavailability of necessary parts.”

In the eyes of Krimson Aviation’s Lema, there are a few OEMs with a more prominent support presence in Africa. “Historically, Textron Aviation has had a larger footprint and network of support in Africa, but Dassault is investing in increasing its network on the continent,” he shares.

Johnson concurs that Dassault has a great global service network, adding that Gulfstream does, too.

In the southern portion of the continent, Absolute Aviation is a longstanding partner of Textron Aviation’s as an authorized sales, service, and parts representative for Cessna and Beechcraft in southern and central Africa. The company also supports Pipistrel, which is part of Textron eAviation, with sales, service support and training.

“With Absolute Aviation based at Lanseria International Airport in South Africa, the distributor is supporting with expanding Pipistrel’s service offering in the country as well as with the delivery and distribution to several other key markets across southern and central Africa, including Angola, Botswana, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe”, Steve Mckenna, Director of Sales and Marketing at Pipistrel says.

Reeves shares that Pilatus products stand out in terms of operating costs, holding resale value, and customer support. “[Pilatus’] responsiveness to AOG situations is unmatched by any other OEM,” he says. “We can swiftly receive parts shipped from Switzerland to Johannesburg within 24 hours, which is not logistically possible for OEMs that ship from the US or lack readily available parts centers in more centrally located areas.”

“Africa is a remote location for most aircraft OEMs, but the Pilatus PC-12 Centre Southern Africa can offer fully comprehensive support with factory-trained engineers, access to all required technical publications, and a facility that can cater to numerous Pilatus aircraft at any given time,” Wyss adds.

Ultimately, service networks play a key role for owners and operators, serving as an extension to the OEM’s headquarters whether located in the US, France, Canada, Brazil, or Switzerland.

“Local Pilatus owners and operators benefit through our close relationship with the Pilatus factory,” Wyss concludes. “We are also able to have spares delivered from the Pilatus factory within a couple of working days from order, ensuring aircraft downtime is kept to a minimum.”

More information from:
Absolute Aviation: https://absoluteaviation.co.za/
Comair Flight Services: www.flycfs.co.za
JetHQ: https://jethq.com/
Krimson Aviation: https://krimson.aero/
Pilatus PC-12 Centre Southern Africa: www.pilatuscentre.co.za
Textron Aviation: https://txtav.com/


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