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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Maintenance News

HBS Opens Regional Service Center in Mesa

Hawker Beechcraft Corp. has opened a $14-million aircraft maintenance facility at Phoenix – Mesa Gateway Airport (IWA) in Arizona. The Hawker Beechcraft Services (HBS) location offers airframe, engine and avionics MRO, as well as aircraft on ground (AOG) support.

A Jan. 5 ceremony at the complex marked the completion of the first stage of the project, which involves a 26,000-square-foot maintenance hangar at IWA. Another 26,000-square-foot hangar and 22,000 square feet of back shops and offices with a lobby are included in the second phase, projected to open in November 2009. Mesa will cover the southwestern U.S., replacing the company’s facility in Van Nuys, Calif., which is scheduled to close on March 31.

Andy Plyler, vice president of HBS, notes that the company "conducted an extensive evaluation of the Southwest" to find a location for the new facility, adding that IWA was favorable "in terms of location, economic infrastructure and a customer-friendly business environment." The company has a lease on 5.1 acres at IWA, with an option for another 5.6 acres to expand in the future.

There are 12 service facilities in the company’s network in the U.S., Mexico and the U.K. HBS is making improvements at six other locations in the United States, with the most recent being the Oct. 17 ground-breaking for a service center in Indianapolis, Ind.

Superior Files For Bankruptcy While Thielert Recovering

Coppell, Texas-based Superior Air Parts has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and Textron Lycoming has acquired most of its assets, but the company is continuing to deliver parts, at least for now. Superior has a catalog of more than 2,000 aftermarket parts for Lycoming and Continental engines. According to President Kent Abercrombie, the bankruptcy filing resulted in staff layoffs, but the company is maintaining sufficient personnel to take and fill orders. Its XP experimental engine program is continuing, but Superior’s owner-build program for homebuilt aircraft has been halted, temporarily. The company’s PMAs and STCs for aftermarket parts, production certificates and approvals are included in the Lycoming acquisition, as well as parts inventory and related equipment. Not involved in the purchase is Superior’s Millennium cylinder line for Teledyne-Continental engines. Superior’s financial difficulties follow problems at parent company Thielert Aircraft Engines, which filed for bankruptcy in spring 2008.

However, the Hamburg, Germany-based engine maker is now in the midst of recovering and is back working to capacity, according to Bruno Kübler, Thielert’s insolvency administrator. Kübler says that all existing employees have kept their jobs, a fact that "is especially gratifying, particularly in these financially difficult times." He is also working with potential new investors, including two defense contractors, in the hopes of generating sustainable revenue for the future. Kübler is optimistic that Thielert’s diesel engines can be refined for military applications and quickly certified.

FAA Acts on Human Factors

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been heating up its activities surrounding human factors (HF) training for aircraft maintenance personnel. In the January issue of AM (see page 10) it was reported that the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) requires maintenance human factors training, but its U.S. counterpart only encourages HF training, in advisory circular 145-10.

That may soon change, however.

"Yes, there are some rulemaking efforts that are underway to take maintenance human factors to the next level," says Jay Hiles, FAA aviation inspector and specialist in HF. A proposed rule on HF training "will be comparable to the EASA requirement and ICAO standards," he adds.

Hiles couldn’t say when a notice of proposed rulemaking will be issued. "This is a work in progress," he explains.

When the NPRM is issued, it will be action that succeeds FAA advisory circulars, staff training and consultive manuals covering human factors. For example, the agency is having its safety inspectors take an "aggressive" three-day course in human factors to help them assist maintenance centers and aircraft operators as they set up their own HF programs. Unlike previous training, which was provided by FlightSafety International and explained "what is human factors," the new course provides the safety inspectors with HF tools and list of HF experts within the FAA. The Southern California Safety Institute, based in Torrance, Calif., conducts the training.

These measures are in addition the FAA’s annual human factors symposium, to be held Sept. 1 – 3 in San Diego, Calif. Several years ago, the agency also issued a 25-page "Operator’s Manual for Human Factors in Aircraft Maintenance" (covering HF training but also event reporting and use of technical documentation). And it published the "Maintenance Human Factors Presentation System" (outlining actions for HF training) in March 2008. — Dave Jensen, Editor-at-Large

PAMA Appoints Directors

The Professional Aviation Maintenance Association (PAMA) has named its 2009-2010 executive and regional board of directors, including Chairperson Clark Gordon, who is vice president of sales for TrueNorth Avionics. Aeroworks President Dale Forton was elected vice chair, and Sikorksy’s field service representative, Richard Wellman, will serve as secretary of PAMA. Other two-year executive board appointments include Mass Mutual Financial’s Carl Violette as treasurer and Mark Wishart and Ed Martinkus as directors. Wishart is a quality engineer for Gulfstream Aerospace and Martinkus is director of maintenance for Reyes Holdings. Those serving one-year terms as regional directors include Jet Repair Anywhere CEO Cheryl Janke, Air Land Turbine Services President Roger Sickler and Jeff Gruber, an aviation maintenance instructor. Gordon says that the new appointees will allow the organization to "stay focused on the PAMA strategic plan," which includes the 2009 Aviation Maintenance & Management Symposium, the PAMA/SAE Institute maintenance and production certification program, and efforts designed to bring in new corporate and individual members.

Turbomeca Wins Engine Support Deals, Opens Manufacturing Site in Monroe, N.C.

The Turkish Ministry of Defense has awarded a Makila 1A1 (shown above) support contract to Turbomeca, the French engine maker. The agreement is an extension of a partnership between the two entities, which set up a 1A1 facility in December 2008 at the Tusas Engine Industries governmental repair center in Eskisehir, Turkey. The facility provides up to level 4 repairs for 50 Cougar helicopters in service with the Turkish Army. According to Turbomeca, the deal will significantly bolster engine support at the site, allowing for increased autonomy.

In a separate deal, Turbomeca do Brasil has expanded its partnership with the Brazilian military to assemble and support Makila 2A engines on Eurocopter EC725 helicopters. The contract covers engine services and local military support for 50 Brazilian Army and Navy EC725s that are scheduled for delivery from 2010 through 2016. Turbomeca’s facility in Rio de Janeiro will assemble, test and overhaul the Makila 2As. The first engine is planned for delivery in June 2010.

In another development, the Safran Group company has dedicated its $50-million manufacturing site in Monroe, N.C. Turbomeca Manufacturing — the first production facility for the company outside France — will specialize in making turbine engine parts. Monroe, which will feature 100,000 square feet of buildings on a 42-acre site and employ around 180 people, joins Turbomeca USA in Grand Prairie, Texas and Turbomeca Canada as the third company location in North America. Company officials say the decision to establish a center in Monroe is intended to "increase Turbomeca’s production capacity while increasing the American content for the current and future markets, as well as producing, among others, Arriel 1E2-specific parts," says Safran Group CEO Jean-Paul Herteman. He adds that the first parts built at the facility were delivered in July 2008. Arriel 1E2 engines power the Eurocopter UH-72A, which is being used for the U.S. Army’s light utility helicopter (LUH) program.

Embraer Obtains Type Certification, STC for Lineage 1000

FAA has issued type certification for the Embraer Lineage 1000 executive jet. The Brazilian manufacturer has also obtained a supplemental type certificate (STC) for the aircraft’s interior. Georgetown, Del.-based PATS Aircraft Completions, a subsidiary of DeCrane Aerospace, built and installed the cabin configuration for the Lineage 1000. The interior, which Embraer developed in partnership with Priestman Goode of London, England, features five "privacy" zones and two lavatories. In addition to the interior, the STC covers modifications in the cargo compartment as well as the oxygen system. The FAA type certificate follows similar action by Brazil’s National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), both of which issued TCs in December 2008. Embraer says it has sold more than 20 Lineage 1000s. According to Luís Carlos Affonso, vice president of the company’s Executive Jets division, the range of the aircraft rose to 4,500 nautical miles during the certification process, a 300-mile increase over the original design.

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