Q&A with Pilatus: Part 1
A sit down with Ronald Smith, Regional Director for Pilatus Aircraft Sales
October 11, 2018
By Adam Meredith
Thinking about moving up to the turboprop market and unsure of what to expect in the buying process? In Part 1 of this 3-part Q & A series, AOPA Finance President Adam Meredith chats with Ronald Smith, Regional Director for Pilatus Aircraft Sales, to learn about his background in aircraft sales and to get his advice for pilots buying an aircraft for the first time.
Tell us about yourself and your background with Pilatus.
I was a first officer on the de Havilland Dash 8 at Piedmont Airlines before entering aircraft sales.
I have always loved Pilatus. Even before I heard that a Pilatus sales position had opened up at Western Aircraft, I did everything I could to get my foot in the door. I didn’t know it at the time, but Western Aircraft, Inc. in Boise, Idaho, is actually the world’s largest Pilatus Sales and Service Center. Over the last 10 years, I’ve been fortunate enough to be the regional sales director for the PC-12 and the PC-24 "Super Versatile Jet" in four of Western Aircraft’s 12-state territory in the Northwestern US.
Did you sell Piston aircraft before selling Turboprops?
Yes, I got my start in aircraft sales representing another great airplane with an extremely loyal following; the Mooney. I have plenty of fond memories of the excitement of demonstrating a brand-new Ovation2 GX coupled with awkward memories of being extremely unpolished and green in regard to the actual process of selling an airplane.
What advice do you have for someone purchasing their first airplane?
I advise using the “80/20 Rule.” Define your missions and narrow your focus to platforms that satisfy 80% of them. Place less focus or value on chasing that remaining 20%. Compromising what would be your ideal platform 80% of the time in order to accommodate the overwhelming minority of your missions will likely result in glaring inefficiencies. The financial pain of inefficiencies can be exasperated if the situation reaches a point where ownership needs to be exited in order to acquire a better-suited platform. I encounter many aircraft owners who find they are regularly talking themselves out of using their aircraft because the inefficiencies are keeping them awake at night.
Second, do your research; it will likely be a labor of love if you are an aviation enthusiast. I also say this with the experience of regularly interacting with potential airplane owners who are more knowledgeable. There is so much information available to consumers about airplanes, cars, microwaves, grills... it can be overwhelming. As you sit on your balsa-wood raft in this vast sea of information, seek sources of clarity. Don’t hesitate to contact your local manufacturer representative to learn about the latest relevant news and facts from the original equipment manufacturer (OEM). Don’t hesitate to engage with an actual owner to ask what their ownership experience has been. Try to find resources that walk the walk and don't just talk the talk.
What % of the PC-12 buyers are first-time aircraft owners?
This number has been steadily climbing for the PC-12 due to its movement into the corporate flight department segment of the market. Both individuals and CFOs seek the efficiency and strong value retention of the PC-12, and its unique versatility covers the vast majority of regional missions, even with varying distances and runway environments. I would estimate roughly 25% of PC-12 buyers are first-time aircraft owners.
Considering aircraft ownership? AOPA Aviation Finance will make your purchase experience as smooth as possible. For information about aircraft financing, please visit the website (www.aopafinance.com) or call 1-800-62-PLANE (75263).
Click here for Q&A with Pilatus: Part 2