Dallas center brings operating experience to mx ops

 - May 26, 2010, 11:13 AM

Business Jet Access focuses on the operational aspects of maintenance, according to general manager Brian Hoffman, who credits his stint as a mechanic and a crew chief in the Marines for his ability to consider how maintenance affects the operation of the aircraft.

Hoffman said that when he was about 13 a friend of his older brother returned to Salina after serving in Vietnam as a helicopter pilot. “He was flying a Bell Ranger for the power company and was giving rides in it at the Russell County Fair. I took a ride and was hooked on aviation.”

In 1973 Hoffman took a $5 one-hour introductory flight in a Cessna 150 then spent his high-school years working part time to save the money for flying lessons; he received a private pilot certificate his senior year. “I remember thinking at the time that a career in aviation is exactly what I wanted,” he said.

After graduation Hoffman joined the Marine Corps to be a helicopter mechanic. After training he was assigned to Camp Pendleton for four years and then reassigned to Okinawa.

“I was both a mechanic and a crew chief, which made me more operationally focused when it came to maintenance.

I flew 2,200 hours during my remaining three-and-a-half years of active duty
and that combination of mechanic and flight crew turned out to be one of
the most significant experiences in the development of my maintenance philosophy,” he said.

After leaving the Marines Hoffman attended Wichita State University, where from 1981 to 1985 he put himself through college by joining the Kansas Air National Guard. In addition to being an enlisted man in the Guard working as an F-4 mechanic and crew chief, he was also hired by his unit as a full-time civil servant doing the same thing. He graduated in 1985 with a bachelor’s of business administration in aviation management and promptly joined the Air Force, where he served as a maintenance officer for 10 years. During that time he added a master’s degree from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona.

“In 1995, after 17 years of active duty, I decided it was time to join the civilian ranks. I was in that sweet spot with respect to age and experience. There’s a stigma attached to military retirees. People think because you have a retirement check you won’t be motivated if you work for them. I didn’t want to get caught in that trap, so I left active duty before retirement,” he said.

As a civilian, Hoffman went to work for Aviall Commercial Engines in Dallas as a shift leader and was there about a year. “When the company was bought out by Greenwich Air Services, John Rahilly, an old friend, asked if I would take over KC Aviation’s Westfield, Massachusetts operation. I was there for three years until it was bought out by Gulfstream Aerospace in 1999,” Hoffman said.

“I’d wanted to move back to Dallas and talked to John again, who by then was working for Signature Regional Maintenance Centers, and he said he was looking for someone to run the Dallas Regional Maintenance Center. I moved back to Dallas and took over as the director of tech services.”

In 2001, when the company was acquired by Gulfstream Aerospace, Hoffman moved to Raytheon Aircraft Services in Wichita as director of technical services, where one of his primary responsibilities was to incorporate standardization across the 13 Raytheon Aircraft facilities.

“We had 11 facilities in the U.S., one in Chester UK, and one in Toluca, Mexico. The position gave me a lot of experience working with fractionals, including Raytheon’s TravelAir fractional program,” he said. “As the position expanded and shifted I ended up as vice president of aircraft maintenance at Flight Options in Cleveland, though I was still employed by Raytheon Aircraft. We had 215 airplanes encompassing 13 different fleet types. I was responsible for seven maintenance facilities and 480 people and was there until 2005, when I joined Business Jet Access as general manager and relocated back to Dallas.”

Hoffman said based on his experiences his orientation is one of an operational support function rather than simply a maintenance business.

“Maintenance is a byproduct of operating the airplane; it isn’t the reason the airplane exists. Of course I believe an MRO facility exists to make money, but sometimes MRO personnel don’t have the same sense of urgency as the aircraft operator. We operate 10 aircraft of our own, so we get it. Owners expect us to execute logistics tasks with precision and deliver expected outcomes. It isn’t about doing maintenance; it’s about keeping the airplane flying and productive,” he said.
“What I’ve instilled in my team is airplanes are made to fly–not sit in the hangar. Everything we do is geared toward minimal downtime and precise execution of solutions. We try to present a value equation rather than run a maintenance business,” he explained.

Business Jet Access is located at Business Jet Center’s executive terminal at Dallas Love Field. After investing more than $15 million in a rebuilding program, Business Jet Center Dallas occupies 24 acres with 178,000-sq-ft of hangar, terminal and office space, 13 acres of concrete ramp and an expansive underground fuel farm. The facility was recently awarded a Part 145 repair station certificate. The MRO portion of the business operates out of a dedicated 12,000-sq-ft hangar that includes shop space and a stockroom containing about $650,000 worth of parts.

The facility holds limited airframe ratings for the Falcon 900, Hawker 800, Hawker 850XP and Citation 650. Also covered are limited powerplant ratings for various TFE731 engine derivatives. Currently, BJC is in the process of obtaining airframe ratings for the Beechjet series and aircraft instrument certification capabilities. EASA certification is in progress and approval is anticipated by August.

BJA has 18 employees dedicated to the MRO operation, including eight A&P mechanics, two inspectors, two supply-chain specialists, two records/ tracking specialists, a director of maintenance, a chief inspector and one customer support specialist.

“We’re looking at expansion possibilities but we want to be targeted. Our
one- to two-year goal is to build our existing business and add capabilities. Right now, everything we do is about optimization, looking for effective ways to decrease down time and enhance aircraft availability,” Hoffman said. “Our five-year goal is geographic expansion.”