CD Aviation Services (CDAS) of Joplin, Mo., has positioned itself to support a niche market: the TPE331. The engine was initially developed in 1961 by Garrett AiResearch in both a turboshaft version–the TSE331–and the TPE331 turboprop.
The first TPE331 was installed on the Aero Commander in 1964 and subsequently put into production on the Twin Commander in 1965. With more than 14,000 sold over the years, the engine powers the Twin Commander, Beech King Air B100, Cessna 441 Conquest II, Mitsubishi MU-2 and Piper Cheyenne 400.
According to Rick Gibbs, CDAS general manager, the MRO stays busy working on about 100 engines a year, including the TFE731 turbofan found on various Hawkers, Citations, Falcons, Gulfstreams, Westwinds, JetStars, Learjets and Sabreliners. Gibbs has spent most of his career working on the 331.
“I joined the Air Force in 1973 and spent six years working as a jet engine mechanic,” he told AIN. “I was stationed in Wichita when I left the Air Force and went to school to get an A&P mechanic rating while working for Air Midwest.”
According to Gibbs, the airline was in growth mode and in the process of transitioning to a Metroliner fleet. “It was my introduction to the TPE331 engine,” he said.
As part of the airline’s expansion it began serving Springfield, Mo. In 1986 the company added a maintenance base in Springfield, Gibbs moved there and for the next five years he managed the engine shop. He held that position until the airline was sold and the new owner consolidated all maintenance in Wichita.
Gibbs stayed in the area and worked briefly for another company before joining an old Air Midwest colleague who’d opened a shop in Neosho, Mo. “The company’s direction and business eventually moved to different aircraft but I wanted to stay with the 331,” Gibbs said. “So I decided to move to Berryville, Arkansas to work for Kelner Turbine Engines as chief inspector. Ironically, in 2002 I found myself back in Neosho when the company relocated there.”
Four years later Kelner was sold and renamed CD Aviation Services; Gibbs was promoted to general manager in 2007. The entire operation was housed in a single, 13,000-sq-ft facility and as business continued to grow it reached a point that
the physical plant was restricting the company’s ability to expand its services.
As a result, last month the MRO relocated to a 13,000-sq-ft off-airport facility in Joplin with a dedicated engine shop. The company also has an additional 20,000-sq-ft hangar on Joplin Regional Airport.
The FAA and EASA Part 145 MRO is an authorized repair station for the Honeywell TPE331 and TFE731 offering field service, troubleshooting, removal and installation, engine sales and leasing, overhaul, pre-buy inspections and video borescope inspection. CDAS is also an FAA-authorized specialized service non-destructive testing facility.
Gibbs said the company’s main focus is the Honeywell TPE331-1 through -12. It offers overhaul, major hourly and gearbox inspections, compressor repairs, hot sections and the continued airworthiness maintenance program that the manufacturer developed for the engine in the late 1980s.
“We do unscheduled inspections and repair such as abnormal load input inspections resulting from prop strikes, lightning or birdstrikes,” he said. “We cover compressor, gearbox operator error/abuse inspections such as hot/hung starts and bog down, and other maintenance-related services such as engine testing and vibration field service.”
CDAS also provides scheduled inspections, major hourly, unscheduled inspections, fan balance and other maintenance services for the Honeywell TFE731 turbofan. Also on the company’s menu are the Honeywell GTCP36 and RE100 APUs, for
which CDAS does scheduled inspections, hot sections, major hourly, unscheduled inspections and carbon seal replacement. It also offers engine testing, field service and engine accessory (LRU) removal and reinstallation. The MRO also does Honeywell APU 100 and 150 hot sections and compressor repairs.
“What we bring to the table is over a hundred years of combined experience on the 331,” Gibbs said. “No one knows the engine better. We also offer around-the-clock tech support, and we have a dedicated salesman in Europe and a sales rep in Argentina to cover South America.”
CDAS has 18 full-time personnel, including 10 FAA-certified A&P technicians, an FAA-certified IA and FAA-certified DAR. The company provides education for its personnel, including ongoing internal and external technical training.