An MD Helicopters MD 500 in flight.
Photo Credit: MD Helicopters

Aftermarket performance and customer service are now key for MD Helicopters

LONDON – Fresh out of the Chapter 11 bankruptcy process, the iconic all-American helicopter manufacturer aims to have better levels of after-sales service.

Under its new leadership, MD Helicopters has eyed key milestones including improving inventory levels, stronger relationships and synergy with suppliers and strengthening the network is service centres, supply chains and distributors.

The hope is to increase the manufacturer’s aftermarket performance in order to be competitive in the helicopter market. 

The newly appointed VP of aftermarket sales Ryan Weeks highlighted that MD Helicopter ranked seventh (and last) in terms of after-market sales in Vertical’s 2022 Helicopter & Engine Manufacturers Survey.

Before joining MD Helicopters, Ryan Weeks was at Honeywell where he held a senior position in marketing and product management and nearly 8 years at Bell. 

Weeks stated that: “Moving to MD, it was kind of refreshing, because not only am I moving back into the helicopter industry, but I’m stepping into a situation in the aftermarket that really resembles where Bell was at in the aftermarket roughly seven/eight years ago.” 

Weeks made a statement on MD prior to joining the helicopter manufacturer, that MD Helicopters has a great product lineup but did not reach its full potential it should have given the outstanding product.  

Weeks stresses the need to emphasise customer service and aftersales solutions, and that this new ethos is clear and “pretty straightforward”.

MD Helicopters has to tackle the problem of inefficiencies in the distribution centres for inventory and spare parts management systems over the next year, to streamline the movement of goods. 

MD Helicopters will identify approximately 500 of the highest-demand parts and assemblies and will focus on these stocks to improve the movement of such goods to MD Helicopters within less than a day (24 hours), and is expected to be 95% on time. 

As of this moment, the current inventory levels of the manufacturer are acceptable at 30% of parts at MD Helicopters, but there are lots of improvements to be made.

Apart from sourcing the most sought-after parts of the helicopter, they will also look out for the parts which cause the most AOG (Aircraft on Ground) situations, in that case, customers can quickly resolve the problems. The two major items are usually the main rotor gearboxes and the main rotor hubs. 

MD Helicopters and the wider market 


Cerium, a trusted well-known aviation data analytics company, discovered that MD Helicopters has delivered 4,831 aircraft, both civil and military, and out of those delivered, 1,727 are still in service (and a further 163 are believed in storage).

MD500 series aircraft make up 90% of the active fleet. 38%  per cent of the fleet is in North America and another 37% is in Asia-Pacific. Europe sits in the third with just 11%

Moreover, the data also shows that the manufacturer’s product is particularly popular amongst utility operations, taking the largest portion of the pie at 34%, trailing behind by the light-armed scouts/military trainers at 29%, and private and or corporate usage at 22 per cent respectively. 

The company hopes to increase the share of MD Helicopters products globally by improving its supply chain management systems which hope to improve its aftermarket segment substantially.

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