From a husband-and-wife operation launched 10 years ago in the family garage in Mesa, Ariz., Phoenix Heliparts has grown into major player in the art of restoring older helicopters to a new and useful life.
The company’s main facility in Mesa, about 14 miles north of Phoenix-Mesa Gateway Airport, now totals about 45,000 sq ft and there is an additional 25,000 sq ft and a designated landing area at the airport for flight testing.
The company is best known for modifications and support of the MD500 helicopter series. “There’s nothing my guys can’t do,” said Phoenix Heliparts president Tina Cannon. One example, she said, was a contract to modify and upgrade three MD530Fs for the U.S. State Department. “The State Department needed them in Iraq,” she recalled, “as in ‘now.’ We did all the work in just 28 days. People were counting on us and we worked around the clock. Some of the guys even slept here. It may be the most rewarding work we’ve done here to date.”
That quick response and on-time delivery cemented a relationship with the State Department and was partly responsible for Phoenix Heliparts winning a subcontractor job with Science and Engineering Services in Huntsville, Ala., on a $390 million, Bell UH-1 government upgrade project.
Expanding into the fixed-wing market, Phoenix Heliparts recently delivered its second Dash 8 twin-turboprop modification for the State Department, a contract that included installation of a Spectrum Aeromed system on one of the airplanes.
Most recently, Cannon and husband and partner Darin made a trade with the Honolulu Police Department, delivering a refurbished and upgraded MD500E and taking in trade the department’s older MD500D.
Those who were fans of the Magnum P.I. television series may be delighted to see what Phoenix Heliparts has done with the MD500D acquired from the Honolulu police. Appropriately, it has been completely refurbished as a mirror image of the MD500D that appeared in so many of the episodes from 1980 to 1988. The famous helicopter is on display at the Phoenix Heliparts booth (No. C1527), where visitors may also meet two of the stars from Magnum P.I.: Larry Manetti, who played Orville “Rick” Wright, and Roger E. Mosley, who had the role of charter helicopter pilot Theodore “T.C.” Calvin. Some 200 signed copies of Manetti’s book, Aloha Magnum, are being given away.
Also at the booth, Phoenix Heliparts is taking orders for two MD500 rebuild projects. The buyers will be able to customize the ships to a high degree, from choice of engines to avionics.
Phoenix Heliparts has a legacy of several employees and their families that can be traced back to Hughes Helicopters in Culver City, Calif., where the Model 500 made its first flight in the mid-1960s. And four members of the board of directors, said Cannon, have 85 combined years of experience with the MD product line in areas from manufacturing and repair to sales and support.
Cannon said the company, with 40 employees, has just come off a good year in 2012 that saw a revenue increase of more than 30 percent. “And we have some new and exciting projects for 2013 and beyond,” she concluded. o