MRO Profile: Certified Aviation Services

 - September 3, 2008, 6:52 AM

Certified Aviation Services was founded in Santa Ana, Calif., in 1990 in response to airline demand for third-party line and ground support equipment maintenance. Today, the company has facilities at 16 airports across the U.S. and serves a number of business aviation operators who fly airliner-size airplanes.

By 2005 the company had grown to seven stations, including Southern California airports such as Burbank, Long Beach and Los Angeles. It focused on servicing heavy commercial aircraft and heavy corporate aircraft operators that had airliner-size aircraft such as the Boeing 707, president Alex Vorobiess told AIN. “As the number of corporate operators using heavy iron grew, so too did the demand because most MROs catering to business aviation couldn’t handle that size aircraft. It was a good fit for CAS because we already had extensive experience with that type of aircraft and could provide customers with maintenance, refurbishment, dry washing and interior cleaning, among other services,” he said.

“The other issue is that many of those aircraft are older airframes with complex AD requirements. We have the experience to deal with the issues because we have a good mix of highly experienced mechanics from the airlines, military and other MRO operations,” Vorobiess said.

CAS moved its headquarters to Ontario International Airport in the mid-1990s when customers began asking for the company to provide maintenance service there. It was then that the company began providing support to the growing general aviation market. In 2005 Aero-Mark purchased CAS and invested resources into extending the network and focusing solely on commercial and military/contractor aviation. The company stopped providing ground service equipment and support for light general aviation aircraft.

A Nationwide Network

“In the past five years we have focused on being a nationwide service provider and seen a 500-percent growth in revenue,” said Vorobiess, reiterating that the company now operates on 16 U.S. airports. Those facilities include a 50,000-sq-ft shop on Anchorage International Airport, 50,000 sq ft on Los Angeles International Airport, 15,000 sq ft on Ontario and 15,000 sq ft at Denver International Airport.

It also operates a 55,000-sq-ft hangar for heavy maintenance storage, installation and modification projects at San Bernardino, Calif. (formerly Norton AFB).

Vorobiess said Aero-Mark’s forte is purchasing businesses from their technical founders and helping them grow. “We’ve worked with a number of airlines as they outsourced line maintenance. It was that demand that led to a hangar facility in San Bernardino. Customers started asking us to do A checks, B checks and modifications,” he said. “At 55,000 sq ft the San Bernardino facility gave us the ability to do them. We recently successfully completed an ISO 9001 audit and will be third-party certified shortly.”

Jim Thompson, the operation’s general manager for the inflight and modifications group, said the San Bernardino (SBD) operation has quite a few business aviation customers operating large aircraft. “We focus on narrowbody commercial aircraft, including the 727/737/757, A319/320/ 321, MD-80, DC-8 and DC-9,” he said. “We also work on some widebodies, including the 747 and 767, L-1011, DC-10 and A300 and A330, and we have ratings for Gulfstream, Embraer, Canadair CRJ, Hawker and Cessna jets.”

In addition to maintenance, the company does installations, RVSM work and TCAS installations. It also updates radar systems, installs in-flight entertainment equipment and custom lighting, conducts FMS system upgrades and offers various STCs and glass cockpit upgrades.

“We like to do creative modifications, not just simply turn wrenches,” he said. “Heavy-metal aircraft in corporate use are always individualistic, with a lot of money going to communication/ navigation gear and interior modifications. We do quite a few corporate interior installations and upgrades as commercial aircraft transition to corporate use. We’ve designed, developed and installed showers, sofas, reverse seating, bedrooms and entertainment systems. We’re also good at keeping aircraft in compliance.”

The FAA Part 145 repair station also has repair station certification from Bermuda’s department of civil aviation and the CAA of the Cayman Islands, and it is about to get EASA certification.

The SBD operation employs about 25 full time and 35 project employees.

With such a large investment in human resources, the company has a dedicated quality control division responsible for maintaining all levels of documentation
for FAA requirements, along with individual operator requirements. The division also oversees all mechanic training and re-certification. System-wide, CAS has 133 full-time employees, 26 part time and 49 special project/on call personnel. About 170 of the employees are certified A&P mechanics with an average industry experience level of 12 years.

CAS capabilities include 18 airframe and six powerplant manufacturers. Airframes include Airbus, Beech, Boeing, Bombardier, Canadair, Cessna, Dassault, de Havilland Canada, Douglas, Embraer, Fokker, Gulfstream, Hawker Beechcraft, Lockheed, Mitsubishi, Piper, Rockwell and Swearingen. Powerplants the company works on include CFM, General Electric, Honeywell, Pratt & Whitney, Rolls-Royce and Williams.

The company’s services include line maintenance, scheduled maintenance and overnight checks. The SBD facility has the capacity to manage multiple commercial-size aircraft simultaneously and has more than 55 acres of ramp space.

“Our mission statement is ‘to improve our customer’s performance and return value by providing quality line maintenance, heavy maintenance, appearance services and aircraft modifications throughout a nationwide network,’” Vorobiess said. “I think that philosophy has served both the company and our clients well.”