Mayo Aviation: Charter firm offers maintenance services

 - September 19, 2006, 7:40 AM

Mayo Aviation, located on Englewood, Colo.’s Centennial Airport, offers both maintenance and a large Part 135 operation. “Having our own charter fleet gives us a unique perspective because it is also one of our customers. It makes us sensitive to turn-around time; it costs us real money when we don’t get an airplane done right the first time, on-time,” said Greg Laabs, general manager of maintenance.

Mayo Aviation has a long history in the charter business. In fact, the company was incorporated on May 1, 1978, as a charter operator in the Denver area. The company has its roots in its founders’, Gwen and Bill Mayo II, moving to Colorado from Minnesota in 1963.

“I think it was initially a bit of a shock for Gwen and Bill,” Laabs said. “What they found here was a surplus of sky and a lack of the navigable water they were so fond of in Minnesota. Bill missed boating so he decided to try out aviation and in 1965 bought a Ryan Navion and learned to fly.”

Laabs said Mayo passed through several stages of aircraft ownership before buying King Airs in the mid-1970s. “Things really began to take form when Bill leased two King Airs to Rocky Mountain Airlines in the mid-1970s; it led to the beginning of Mayo Aviation.”

In addition to operating King Airs and Learjets since the late 1970s, the company has also operated Piper Cheyennes, Bell helicopters, Cessna Citations, Hawkers, a Sabreliner and a Westwind. During the oil boom of the early 1980s, Mayo operated the largest Part 135 King Air fleet in the world. Today the company operates a fleet that includes turboprops and light, medium and heavy jets.

Mayo Aviation was originally based at Stapleton Airport, but in 1993 it moved its operation to Centennial. In 1997 Mayo expanded its facility by adding a 21,000-sq-ft office building and hangar. Four years ago the company added a 30,107-sq-ft facility, bringing the total space to 85,000 sq ft. “The newest addition has enabled our parts and maintenance departments to expand,” Laabs said.

The company’s charter experience provided a natural progression into the maintenance area. “Gwen really developed the company as a charter business and eventually expanded to include aircraft management. It wasn’t until a few years ago that we began offering outside maintenance, and even then it was limited,” Laabs said. Mayo hired Laabs a year ago to build the maintenance business.

According to Laabs, “We perform routine maintenance and inspections, airframe and engine repair, electrical, battery and other accessory repair. We have heavy experience on Beechcraft, Pipers, Learjets, Challengers, Citations and Hawkers. In addition to in-house and on-the-job training, all our technicians receive formal training at FlightSafety International.”

Mayo Builds a Maintenance Department
Mayo Aviation’s maintenance support department consists of a supervisor, an assistant and shipping and receiving personnel. “We have someone available 24 hours a day to procure parts in AOG situations. Our inventory-locating system enables us to find parts that are hard to get and reduces lead time in acquiring parts,” Laabs said. “We maintain a substantial inventory of rotable and consumable parts for King Airs and Learjets,” he explained. “We also work closely with a large pool of vendors and suppliers to acquire parts from manufacturers such as Raytheon, Bombardier and Aerospace Lighting.

“When I arrived I found the charter department was doing almost 7,000 hours a year. Our King Airs are on charter and also do medevac support; we fly all our airplanes almost daily, so we see high-time problems with them and low-time issues with our newer aircraft. I immediately saw we could capitalize on that knowledge in the marketplace,” Laabs said.

With outside demand for maintenance increasing constantly, the company has extended its hours significantly. There are three overlapping shifts Monday through Friday from 5:30 a.m. until midnight. Thursday through Sunday there is another overlapping shift from 7 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. “In many cases if we get an airplane in on Friday we can have it out of the hangar on Monday,” he said.

“My primary focus since arriving has been to develop the repair station, which now has three employees in maintenance support (parts), five in inspections, sales and management, 13 A&P mechanics with an additional three A&Ps on call, and six in line support,” Laabs explained.

“Externally I’ve been doing a lot of marketing to tell operators what we have to offer,” he said. “Internally I’ve been emphasizing training. By the end of this year every one of our maintenance personnel will have gone through FlightSafety and will be on a two- to three-year cycle. At this point only our newest technicians haven’t attended, and I have them slated to go this summer. In addition, we have our own in-house training coordinator.”

Laabs said the company has a top-down safety culture. “Mayo has an active safety culture and we pride ourselves on complying with federal and state regulations. We focus on the safety of all flights, passengers, maintenance operations and in the general workplace,” he said. “All of our 68-plus employees receive general workplace safety education that is tracked by computer, with additional specific training required of employees in safety-sensitive positions.”

Laabs said it is a positive thing that the repair station is still relatively small. “Sure, we’re smaller than some repair stations, but that works in our favor. We focus on meeting our customers’ needs and building long-term customer relationships. We’re providing the same type of service you get if you go to a large operation but are small enough to make it personal. When you bring your aircraft here you’ll deal with one customer service representative who will be your central point of contact for everything,” he said.