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Friday, May 1, 2009

Intelligence: News

Banyan Turns 30, Partners with StandardAero

Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Banyan Air Service is celebrating 30 years in business. Don Campion founded the maintenance provider and fixed-base operator (FBO) in 1979 as a small hangar serving local piston aircraft. The complex at Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport (FXE) now features more than one million square feet of hangar and office space on 85 acres.

A staff of more than 150 employees supply airframe and engine maintenance, parts, avionics installations and aircraft management and sales. Campion notes that "future plans include further expansion of our capabilities in the maintenance and avionics divisions, investing in more advanced trouble-shooting equipment and tooling, while always maintaining our commitment to training. We estimate moving into an additional 40,000 square feet of hangar space this year."

StandardAero has named Banyan an approved facility for the PT6A-135A engine upgrade on the Cessna Caravan. The engine retrofit replaces the existing 600-shp PT6A-114/114A with the 750-shp version, giving the aircraft a power increase and faster rate of climb. The newer engine also features a redesigned air inlet. Installations are projected to start in early third quarter 2009 at Banyan’s FXE facility.

AeroStrategy Predicts Growth in PMA Airframe and Component Parts

While Ann Arbor, Mich.-based consulting firm AeroStrategy is forecasting continued growth in the airframe and component parts manufacturer approval (PMA) markets, a slowdown of growth is expected in the engine PMA world. Due to the economic slowdown, fuel costs and "defensive measures by OEMs during recent years," the engine PMA market is down 8 percent from 2007 to 2008. While the engine market will slow, the market for airframe and component PMA parts "is expected to continue robust growth," with total material spend increasing from $16.6 billion in 2008 to $21.4 billion in 2013, according to the survey. The entire PMA market will expand from $380 million to $680 million in the same period, with components and airframe parts seeing the highest growth rates. PMA market penetration will also grow over the next five years, from 2.3 percent in 2008 to 3.6 percent in 2013.

FAA Grants Charles Taylor Award to Gulfstream Inspector Richard Thrasher

Richard Thrasher, a senior airworthiness inspector for Gulfstream Aerospace, has been given FAA’s Charles Taylor Master Mechanic award. Thrasher, who rejoined the Savannah, Ga.-based company in Feb. 2000, is the first Gulfstream employee to receive the award.

Beginning his career as a jet mechanic in the U.S. Marine Corps, Thrasher then took a role as mechanic, crew chief and assistant foreman for Gulfstream. He worked as a mechanic, maintenance chief and senior flight engineer for Raytheon, as well as an aircraft consultant, before coming back to Gulfstream in 2000. Requirements for the Taylor award include 50 years of experience as a mechanic and 30 years as an A&P.

FAA Sees Continued Long-Term Growth for General Aviation

While modifying its short-term projections, the Federal Aviation Administration is still forecasting growth in the general aviation fleet. According to its annual aviation forecast, U.S. flights will decrease around 6 percent this year compared to 2008, then pick up again in 2010, averaging 1 percent annual growth through 2025. The active GA fleet is expected to grow from 234,015 aircraft in 2008 to 275,230 in 2025. With the expansion, the average number of hours flown will increase by 1.8 percent each year. The turbine engine-powered market, including helicopters, will grow at 3.2 percent and the turbine fleet at 4.8 percent annually, according to the forecast.

Don Petersen Takes Over Midcoast/Jet Aviation Ops

Kurt Sutterer, president of Midcoast Aviation and head of parent company Jet Aviation’s MRO and completions business in North America, has announced his intentions to retire. Plans call for Don Petersen to take the reigns as president of Midcoast on April 20. He will also be responsible for Jet Aviation MRO and completions in the U.S., including Savannah Air Center.

Don Petersen

Following a transition period, Sutterer will step down in May after 29 years of service at Midcoast. He is credited with expanding the company’s employee base from 800 to 2,000 since becoming president in 2004. Sutterer also helped transition Midcoast through two ownership changes — first to Jet Aviation Group in 2006 and then to General Dynamics, which purchased Jet Aviation in 2008. An A&P, Petersen comes from Gulfstream Aerospace, where he was vice president and general manager of product support in Appleton, Wis., Minneapolis, Minn. and Westfield, Mass.

ExecuJet Aviation Expands Pacific MRO Network in Australia and Malaysia

Zurich, Switzerland-based ExecuJet Aviation Group has opened two new maintenance facilities in recent weeks — in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and Melbourne, Australia. The company has also started construction on a maintenance and fixed-base operator (FBO) complex in Brisbane.

The Malaysian site, which is an authorized service center (ASC) for Bombardier aircraft, offers heavy maintenance and mobile repair support from Subang Airport (SZB). The Brisbane and Melbourne MROs will supplement ExecuJet’s heavy maintenance complex in Sydney (shown above).

Located in a hangar at Essendon Airport (MEB), the Melbourne site can service two aircraft the size of a Global Express or Gulfstream G550 and four mid-size business jets at one time. Support ranging from turnarounds to heavy maintenance, including gear restorations for widebody aircraft and Phase 5 inspections for Cessna Citation aircraft, are available through Melbourne. ExecuJet will also service turboprop aircraft, including engines such as the Honeywell TPE331 and Pratt & Whitney PT6.

The Brisbane facility is scheduled to open in Sept. 2009. It will specialize in aircraft management and maintenance, and will provide warranty repair work on the full line of Bombardier aircraft, focusing on Challengers, Globals and Learjets.

Sun ‘n Fun Onsite Aircraft Emergency Repair Team

Billed as a "spring break for pilots," the annual Sun ‘n Fun fly-in attracts upwards of 200,000 visitors and 6,000-plus aircraft to Florida’s Lakeland Linder Regional Airport (LAL). And, as one would expect, any time that many people fly into an airport in that many airplanes, there are bound to be a few maintenance-related issues.

Whether it’s a prized homebuilt, priceless classic, pristine warbird, or plain vanilla "Wichita Spam Can," help is as close as Sun ‘n Fun’s aircraft emergency repair team. "The nature of emergency repairs is to get a guy back home safely," explained the group’s chairman, Charlie Bukoski. "We primarily do brakes, batteries and tires. Some magnetos and there’s always some ‘skin’ damage. And we have pulled guys out of ditches or other places they shouldn’t be."

Bukoski said that like the rest of Sun ‘n Fun, the repair team started out about 35 years ago as a bunch of volunteers. Glen Stork, who was a founder of Sun ‘n Fun, saw a need for making simple repairs on aircraft so visitors could fly home safely. Stork remained chairman while he convinced Homestead (Florida) EAA Chapter 620 to provide volunteers over the years to handle most of the work. The 620 Chapter president, Jack Lindeman, and his wife Barb "were the ones who put in the long hours and good work in the early years," he said. "As time went by we started seeing a lot more people who wanted to volunteer. Now we have folks from all over the country helping out."

"We have 15 to 20 people come and go during the fly-in," Bukoski added. "My wife Judy handles all of our volunteer coordination now. We like to have people with an A&P license or at least some experience with building an airplane. But just being around airplanes and knowing how to use tools is enough."

While technical skills and experience with aircraft are very important, there’s one talent that is paramount for every volunteer to possess — service with a smile. "People are here to have fun and we want to make sure our guys have the right attitudes," Bukoski said. "People are very appreciative. We don’t charge but we have a ‘tip jar.’ People drop tens and twenties in. That’s how we pay for the materials we use."

He also said that Snap-On Tools has been a very generous supporter of their efforts. "Snap-On loans us a tool box for the show. It’s probably $5,000 or $6,000 worth of tools," Bukoski explained. "It was started by a fellow named Terry Adams. He was a regional vice president until he retired. He flies his T-6 to the show every year and stops by to make sure things are okay." Bukoski described a "typical day" running from sun-up to well after show events are over for the day. "We work in shifts and normally dispatch two guys in a truck for a typical run. Normally, things really don’t get busy until after the airshow and folks want to fly out — that’s when they discover a flat tire or a dead battery or the like," he said. "If it’s any thing serious, we tow them to the local FBO’s maintenance shop."

"We do about 90 assists during the week and most things we deal with are minor. That’s good," Bukoski said. "Last year (2008) we did help out the Air Force demonstration team. They needed an AN-4 bolt for an F-15. I got a t-shirt from them. That was pretty cool." — By Dale Smith

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