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Much of Midcoast-St. Louis’ plant

was devoted to completion work. However, as new-jet sales have dropped, some of these hangars have been reassigned to refurbishment work. “Customers who have decided

not to buy new aircraft are often willing to buy used and bring them up to date,” Madsen says. “As a result, we have been able to keep some of our completion crews busy on this work, when new aircraft work has been minimal.” In an effort to strengthen

its completion, modification and maintenance services in North America, Jet Aviation acquired Midcoast Aviation in 2006 and, in 2008, Savannah Air Center. The Savannah operation was integrated into Jet Aviation’s maintenance and completions organization in the United States, and operated by Midcoast Aviation. A name change from Savannah Air Center to Midcoast Aviation is pending, according to Madsen. The Savannah operation has a

200,000-square-foot (18,580-m2) facility that handles Challenger, Falcon, Global, Gulfstream and Hawker aircraft. Four hundred people work there. On the MRO side, Savannah

provides scheduled and unscheduled maintenance, major structural repair, corrosion inspection and removal, landing gear overhaul inspection and repair, and pre-purchase evaluations for its customers. Its avionics section can upgrade cockpits and add cutting- edge capabilities to the cabin, while other personnel at the Savannah facility handle painting, completions and DER inspections.

Going Mobile

The recession’s corrosive effects have eaten into the entire business- jet sector. Cash-stressed customers either reduced their flight hours or sold their aircraft outright. Manufacturers are producing fewer business jets due to declining demand and a growing inventory of used aircraft for sale. Add the fact

that some operators have started doing their own light maintenance in-house, and companies such as Midcoast Aviation have had to work harder to find new work. “Our people are good, so we’re

keeping our hangars busy,” Madsen asserts. “But it’s amazing just how tight things can become: Millions of dollars of work is being won and booked on a day-to-day basis across the industry.” Often his work is less profitable than before simply because MROs are cutting prices in bids to attract each other’s customers. It’s the reality of the MRO business in a down cycle. Of course, business jets are flying

every day – though they do so looking anywhere for price breaks. This is why Midcoast has started deploying “mobile maintenance teams” to customers’ locations for smaller jobs. “In many cases, we can reduce our

customers’ costs by flying to their facility to do the work in the hangar, or even to team with their staff as they do the work,” Madsen explains. The response to this on-hand

service has been positive. In 2009 alone, Midcoast dispatched its mobile maintenance teams 57 times. Typically, the service requests involved avionics and engine troubleshooting, inspections and non-destructive testing. Today, Midcoast’s “road warriors” can conduct the following services:

• 300-hour, 600-hour and 12/24/48-month checks and repairs on Challenger 600 and 601s;

• 400-hour, 800-hour and 12/24-month checks and repairs on Challenger 604s;

• 4A, 4A+ and any B inspection (no C or Z multiples) on all Falcon models;

• 1A-6A, 1C and 2C maintenance on Global Express jets;

• 400-hour, 800-hour and 12/24-month checks on Hawkers, and

• A wide range of services on Gulfstreams.

46 Aviation Maintenance | | April/May 2010

The mobile maintenance teams

can even bring along non-destructive test equipments, such as X-rays, ultrasonic, eddy current, bond testing and magnetic particle measurements after obtaining the required permits and permissions from the state in which the inspections are performed, if outside Missouri or Illinois. “We go where people need us,”

Madsen states. “Our customers appreciate this, and it has helped us find new business.

Into the Future

Midcoast Aviation’s willingness to adapt and diversify into mobile maintenance and refurbishment has helped offset the worst of the recession. Still, although brighter times for the business-aircraft market appear to be on the horizon, challenges remain. Madsen’s biggest long-term

concern is not failing to find new business, but rather attaining a new staff to do the work. “We’re seeing schools close down their aviation technician courses in favor of other, new professions in IT,” he explains. “This, plus the fact that skilled people can make more money in other fields, could really hurt us down the road, especially with the ‘baby boomers’ retiring.” Madsen also is trying to keep

his existing staff motivated, which is not an easy task when money for raises is just not available. “We’re very concerned about our employees and do what we can to provide a good work environment, competitive benefits and ongoing training opportunities that they can’t get elsewhere,” he says. “But it’s not easy to keep spirits up, especially after the company laid off nearly 10 percent of its workforce in 2009. Still, Midcoast’s prospects are

looking better than they did a year ago, “and 2011 looks to be even stronger,” Madsen says. “We have a backlog of MRO business, some of it stretching into next year. I’m very hopeful that the worst is over.” AM Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32  |  Page 33  |  Page 34  |  Page 35  |  Page 36  |  Page 37  |  Page 38  |  Page 39  |  Page 40  |  Page 41  |  Page 42  |  Page 43  |  Page 44  |  Page 45  |  Page 46  |  Page 47  |  Page 48  |  Page 49  |  Page 50  |  Page 51  |  Page 52  |  Page 53  |  Page 54  |  Page 55  |  Page 56  |  Page 57  |  Page 58  |  Page 59  |  Page 60  |  Page 61  |  Page 62  |  Page 63  |  Page 64