Airtime Blog

Creative Solutions to Support Humanitarian Aviation

October 10, 2019 | Customers, Maintenance, Turboprops | 3 min read
Over 75% of fixed-wing aircraft used in humanitarian aviation missions are powered by our engines. Find out how we’re improving operating economics, maintenance practices and more for these customers.


In the world of humanitarian aviation, the margin for error is slim. The slightest delay could prevent urgently needed medical personnel, relief workers or supplies arriving on time.

When it comes to their engines, the pilots of these aircraft therefore look for two things: reliability and versatility.

They need to count on their aircraft getting to the destination on time, often while operating in harsh or remote environments with limited infrastructure and little to no access to parts or support.

That’s why our engines – especially the PT6A, PW100, PW150 and PT6T families – are the first choice for many humanitarian aviation operators, says Ismael Rhissa Zakary, General Manager, Customer Service Centre Europe, whose organization supports customers in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
Our engines have an exceptional track record when it comes to dispatch reliability and have proven their ability to operate in a wide range of challenging environments. This makes them a natural fit for the demands of humanitarian aviation.
Ismael Rhissa Zakary, General Manager, Customer Service Centre Europe
Ismael’s point is echoed by Ahmed Jibril, Chairman of 748 Air Services, which works in the humanitarian field supporting United Nations’ peacekeeping operations and European humanitarian and aid agencies. His organization works exclusively with P&W-powered aircraft such as the Cessna Grand Caravan, Dash-8 and Q400.
We are 100% dependent on Pratt & Whitney’s engines. Given the environment in which we operate, we require a partner that understands our business and supports us all the time to ensure dispatch reliability.
Ahmed Jibril, Chairman, 748 Air Services


A few years ago, we realized that we needed to build a closer relationship with the humanitarian aviation community, explains Ismael.

“We wanted to work with this community to improve their operating economics, support safety and share maintenance best practices, making it easier for them to carry out their critical missions,” he says.

For instance, in light of the tough conditions where these aircraft tend to operate, last year we introduced an enhanced harsh environment program.

This significantly increases the number of parts eligible for coverage, such as blades, vanes, gears, shafts and more. It also increases time-on-wing eligibility from 4,000 hours to 4,500 hours (5,000 cycles) and increases the direct maintenance cost benefit by up to 30% compared to the previous program.

We offer a P&WCSMART maintenance solution designed for humanitarian operators as well. The benefits include a discount of up to 40% on life-limited parts and support for fleet rejuvenation through engine exchanges at competitive pricing, which reduces downtime.

To further support these operators in keeping their aircraft flying and reducing downtime and operating costs, we’re facilitating the adoption of digital engine services like our FAST™ solution and Oil Analysis Technology for proactive and preventive engine health management. We’re also adding many more mobile repair teams (MRTs) across Africa, where many humanitarian pilots are located.
We’re continuing to work with the humanitarian aviation community to better understand the unique challenges they face, help improve engine operating cost predictability and adapt our services accordingly with high-value solutions.
Ismael Rhissa Zakary, General Manager, Customer Service Centre Europe


We have also teamed up with the World Food Programme (WFP) – the United Nations’ leading humanitarian organization – to provide free safety seminars for these pilots. Similarly, we provide support for the annual Global Humanitarian Aviation Conference, the largest gathering of humanitarian aviation operators in the world.

The main objective is to make sure humanitarian operations are safe, notes Ismael: “We support ongoing safety improvement in the industry, and to help achieve that, we have joined forces with the WFP, which is also pushing hard for safe humanitarian aviation operations.”

The safety seminars cover topics such as best practices in line maintenance, which can help operators identify and address issues proactively, and recommended preventive maintenance activities such as regular compressor washes, which enable customers to keep their costs down. We also give updates on our services and provide other useful information.
When you’re dealing with difficult terrain and harsh environments, such as touching down on landing strips in remote areas, you can’t compromise on safety. There are best practices you need to adopt. That’s what we’re promoting to operators.
Ismael Rhissa Zakary, General Manager, Customer Service Centre Europe
We also plan to work with the WFP to identify and register operators who are available for humanitarian operations and offer best-in-class support in the event of field issues.

We have already increased our presence in Africa with more field support representatives and mobile repair teams. This has allowed us to get closer to the humanitarian aviation community and support them in dealing with day-to-day challenges.

Moving forward, one key focus will be increasing asset availability in order to accelerate return to service, such as placing rental engines and critical parts in the regions where these operators fly.

In recent years, we have been working to enhance our in-region support to operators in Africa, including the continent’s humanitarian aviation community. Read all about it in our article “Soaring to New Horizons.”