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Sunday, June 1, 2008

ASU Response to R&W Rotorcraft Report Item

Subject:  Response to Article “FAA, Vendor, Operators Sort Through NVG Turmoil,”
June 2008, page 10
 
Too many times information goes out without having the facts right.  Your latest article in your “Rotorcraft Report” is a prime example of this situation.
It is true that Aviation Specialties Unlimited, Inc. (ASU) has been sorting through and correcting problems.  However, your article seems to have a similar problem where someone failed to get the facts/data right before going to press.  I’d like to get the record set straight, as follows:
1. There are not 100 helicopters suspended from night-vision goggle (NVG) operations and there have been no safety of flight issues.
2. The aircraft in question have all been added to the operation specifications (op specs) of the operators by qualified and knowledgeable principal maintenance inspectors of the FAA in the field nationwide.
3. The issues were present for four-plus years and we owe our “Congressman” a great “Thank You” for flushing out the problem that “no one” officially came to the table with until ASU made our complaint to our congressman to try to find out what the problem
was.
4. It is true that we had issues (vs. broke.)  Those issues and failure to address them is and should be shared by all participating parties, to include PMI personnel, who added the aircraft to the op specs.
5. It isn’t an “FAA Inspector” helping ASU.  It is a Project Manager out of the Northwest Aircraft Certification Office who stepped to the plate and has been instrumental in our recovery.  We owe an incredible amount of gratitude for his willingness to take our challenge on.  We also have support from key personnel from the Southwest Rotorcraft Directorate, who have been excellent and go
the extra mile in their support.  We have been provided with additional FAA support, as needed, such as a technical inspector who was incredible in his efforts in guiding ASU back through being reissued our Part 145 repair station certificate.  Surrendering the repair station certificate was necessary to put to closure the issue ASU had with the data.
6. It is our understanding that there is/was more than ASU identified with the same data problem.  However, we are the biggest modifier and have been the most in-demand solution provider to operators nationwide.  We are the biggest problem because we are
the largest modifier.
7. There was an investigation with an end result in a report by the FAA, which should be public information.  The report questions where the problem is? The report indicates that to date there have been 65,000 hr flown at night by 81 operators, of  that 65,000
hours over 28,000 hr have been flown utilizing night vision goggles, and of this amount, over 25,000 have been flown with ASU cockpit installations. As previously stated, this is not a “Safety of Flight” issue, but a paperwork issue.
In closing, ASU is committed to addressing the data issues and it frustrates me to have to take time out in the effort to address this article about our company. We would expect that you would work diligently to get the correct and true information before publishing an article that is full of assumptions and industry gossip.
Our customers have enough experience and understand the challenges that we have been dealing with and the majority of these customers have stayed with us through these difficult times.
Our data packets that are being delivered to our customers are better than ever. To survive the scrutiny and continuous oversight we have experienced the last eight months says something about a company and its employees.
I challenge you to personally visit with our FAA project manager and come visit our facility to find out the “real” facts before your next article about ASU.
I am personally overseeing the NVG cockpit modification evaluation of data and our staff is working tirelessly to hit our agreed-to goals with the FAA. But my efforts have the support and efforts of many individuals within the FAA, new DER support staff who have been incredible in their guidance and the tireless efforts of ASU staff who believe in what we do for the industry.  The FAA and ASU are working very much together on this.
Your inaccuracies have discredited your organization’s credibility in the aviation industry. 
I am forwarding this onto the FAA and key customers to ensure we are still on the same page with our efforts and have dispelled the inaccuracies in your article.
Chris Atwood
Vice President
Aviation Specialties Unlimited
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