Since the August 2007 acquisition of StandardAero (Booth No. 1918) by Dubai Aerospace Enterprise (DAE), the Tempe, Ariz.-based company has launched a number of new initiatives, including the expansion and redesign of some of its facilities, the opening of a new PW600 test cell and the implementation of a safety management system (SMS).
The past year has been “very busy,” with particularly strong performance within the helicopter sector, according to Brian Hughes, the company’s director of sales, marketing and business development for helicopter programs. Overall sales last year increased 4 percent over the previous year, and 2008 ended with a record 250 maintenance, repair and overhaul events.
The company expects sales to continue to increase through the rest of the year. “Where most companies are already forecasting that they’ll be off, we still think we have a chance to grow our business in a down economy,” Hughes said.
The company has implemented a freeze on hiring and wages, but has avoided “major” layoffs. “We had an eye on controlling costs while keeping the level of service exactly where it was without changing the workforce,” Hughes said, adding that the company is also implementing a freeze on the cost of exchange accessories, but hasn’t cut back on Heli-Expo exhibition costs. “Our exhibit is as big as ever.”
In addition to the $20 million expansion at the company’s Winnipeg, Canada facility, the redesign of the engine shop in Los Angeles and the addition of fabrication and upholstery shops at Associated Air Center in Dallas, the company also implemented a company-wide, employee-driven SMS program.
The objective of the Immune-SMS program–so called because the human system proactively seeks ways to identify and defend against hazards–is to expose safety hazards or vulnerabilities that can contribute to poor product quality or degrade systems. “SMS is big, it’s important and it’s coming down the pipe for everybody,” Hughes said. “And now we have a two- or three-year jump on most other companies in MRO. Customers won’t have to worry because they will have a vendor that already has it. They won’t have to pre-qualify us.”
Employees underwent a year of training and are encouraged to actively engage in the process, Hughes said. “Every employee in the company has been indoctrinated and is dedicated to safety issues. It’s a mindset, a safety culture, and every employee is empowered to stop production if they feel safety is being compromised.
Whether you’re a janitor or a safety inspector, you’re allowed to pull the fire alarm and stop work if you have any doubt of its safety.”
Last but not least, the company has also continued its efforts to be the “aviation industry environmental leader,” Hughes said, acknowledging that those are bold words. “The work that is being done does not involve spending a lot of money to be greener. We’re putting policies and procedures into place that add environmental benefits.” Processes include engineering controls to minimize and eliminate risk from hazardous materials and emissions, reducing waste water and waste disposal and reducing carbon dioxide and electrical use.