Steve Jones began putting together the basics of what would become the D&K Aviation maintenance shop during the late 1980s while he was the maintenance manager for Eastern Air Lines at La Guardia airport.
According to Jones, at the time there was a small shop and hangar at Republic that took care of his airplane, and he had an IA so he helped out by doing inspections. “I was getting pretty tired of working for the airlines,” so when Eastern closed in 1990 “I bought out his business and shifted to working part time for the airlines.” D&K Aviation officially began business at Republic Airport in Farmingdale, Long Island, in 1991.
The company started out as a small independent repair facility specializing in light piston aircraft maintenance and overhaul. As it grew in size and reputation, D&K Aviation’s business expanded to include larger turboprop aircraft. It also began providing on-call services to a growing number of business jets operating from Republic Airport. In 1998 D&K Aviation earned FAA Part 145 repair station certification and, in 2002, JAA (now EASA) certification.
“There’s little formal maintenance available on this airport, so three years ago we began working on business jets too. We are one of the few FAR 145 Class 4 airframe repair stations in the Northeast,” said Jones, president and CEO of D&K Aviation.
D&K holds Airframe Class 1, 3 and 4 ratings as well as limited engine, propeller and radio ratings. It also oversees the maintenance of several turbine-powered airplanes and helicopters operated under Parts 91 and 135.
“Having an FAA Class 4 repair station rating makes us versatile,” Jones said. “When you combine that with our state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment and experienced technicians we have been able to position ourselves as a highly reliable, cost-effective alternative to the increasingly busy factory service centers. However, we are still small enough to give personalized maintenance service to the growing number of business aircraft flying in and out of the New York/Long Island area.”
D&K Aviation works on Challenger 600/601/604s, Hawkers, Gulfstream IIs through GVs, Falcon 10/20/200s and Sikorskys. “Those are our bread and butter,” Jones said, “but we won’t turn anyone away who needs maintenance.”
According to Jones, the company’s 30,000-sq-ft facility includes 22,500 sq ft of hangar floor, enough to work on up to four Gulfstreams and a few smaller business jets at the same time. D&K Aviation has 30 employees, 18 of whom are A&P mechanics and three are avionics technicians. The company also offers aircraft maintenance management services and parts sales.
“We’re doing more than $15 million a year in business,” Jones said. “We have some Part 135 operators that use us regularly, some of whom have older aircraft that aren’t under warranty.”
In addition to the expanding turbine aircraft maintenance and management operation, D&K Aviation has an extensive structural repair department with access to FAA DER services. The company specializes in airframe and component structural repair and modification for all types of damage and corrosion. It also has a battery shop and does sheet-metal repair and modification and non-destructive testing.
“If you’d asked me in 1990 what I’d be doing in 2000 I’d say working on piston aircraft. I never anticipated what we have here today,” Jones said. “Even with the economy down I think we’re going to continue to grow this year.”
Jones said he doesn’t advertise and relies solely on word of mouth. “We’re careful about controlling our growth. You have to be able to sustain your operation in good times and bad,” he said. “We’re watching the economy closely and monitoring business opportunities in the Eastern part of the world. There is a lot of potential in that region, but the rules of the game are different there and you have to understand them. For now we’re just taking a wait-and-see attitude.”