When Irv Shoichet established Mississauga, Ontario-based Skycharter in 1968, the newly formed company offered FBO services, charter, pilot training, maintenance and aircraft sales.
From the company’s inception, Shoichet recruited key team members who had significant industry experience so he could offer an integrated business aviation enterprise with a depth of expertise that transcended the operation’s youth. That proved to be a successful strategy as Skycharter began to attract Fortune 500 companies and, according to president–and the founder’s son–Richard Shoichet, became Canada’s largest privately owned charter fleet. “My father studied what other operators throughout North America were doing, adopted best practices and built the business upon that foundation,” he told AIN.
As the business grew, the elder Shoichet “came to understand the essence of corporate flying was service reliability,” said his son. “What mattered most to operators was that their aircraft was available for use when it was needed and it was in excellent condition to meet the requirements of their specific mission profile. The company philosophy made it a point of pride to provide that peace of mind to every customer,” Shoichet said.
Demand for Maintenance Grows
As the size of the charter fleet grew, so too did the sophistication of the aircraft and the demand for hangar and other FBO services. At the same time, the company placed increased emphasis on providing maintenance. By 1974 Skycharter had received its AMO (approved maintenance organization) designation, the company’s maintenance activities shifted towards line maintenance and the shop grew to meet demand.
Today, Skycharter’s maintenance facility includes an avionics shop, proprietary maintenance tracking system, a wide range of ground support equipment and a diverse network of associations with both AMEs and regulators. According to Shoichet, the MRO can provide line maintenance to most corporate aircraft.
“With our selection by organizations as diverse as the Corporate Aircraft Association, Elite Traveler Magazine and the U.S. Presidential Marine One detachment, we have the opportunity to provide line maintenance services to a diverse base of customers,” Shoichet said.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Shoichet has assembled a management team of senior and experienced personnel who have an average of close to 20 years in corporate aviation.
“Under the guidance of Paul Carter, our director of maintenance, we’ve maintained a close-knit team that allows diagnostic and operational efficiency. The combined experience helps us provide minimum downtime and optimum value,” he said.
Carter, formerly a Canadian minister’s delegate/maintenance authorized to import aircraft for Canadian registration, agreed, saying, “We all work closely together; we take our clients’ trust personally. We have developed a reputation for being a corporate boutique where all clients receive individual and detailed attention to their specific needs and every aircraft is treated as if it were our own.”
In 2009 Skycharter invested more than a million dollars in its facility, including its dedicated 5,000-sq-ft building that houses maintenance administrative offices and shop areas.
“Our capabilities include full avionics line service, including instrument repair. We have the in-house capability to perform all avionics services from 24-month pitot-static calibrations through line service defects to annual cockpit voice recorder intelligibility checks,” Carter said.
It can also repair and deep cycle most of the lead-acid and nickel-cadmium batteries installed in aircraft today.
The company is planning to add the capability to do digital flight data recorder (DFDR) correlation and annual download of all modern DFDRs and CVRs.
Skycharter is experienced in a wide range of aircraft, including most corporate models from smaller turboprops to larger-cabin, transcontinental aircraft. It can house aircraft up to the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 series in its heated hangar, a significant benefit considering Great Lakes winters.
Shoichet told AIN clients “love the heated [80,000-sq-ft] hangar” because it costs less, in terms of both time and money, than de-icing, for which the wait time during a typical winter event can be several hours.
The MRO has a full- and part-time staff of 20 employees and is the only Canadian-approved European Business Aviation Association handler.
“Our personalized service comes through whether we’re just shuttling folks to their accommodations and meetings or following up with the flight crew on an aircraft issue,” Shoichet said. “We offer a lot of services but we’re not so big that we won’t just walk up and say a friendly hello to whomever we see and offer whatever assistance we can provide to make their visit a pleasant and memorable experience. A lot of things have changed over the years, but that’s the way my father did business 45 years ago and it’s still the way we do business today.”