Each year, NBAA recognizes the top aviation maintenance and avionics technicians with good safety records who work for member companies. Maintaining corporate aircraft or avionics for three accident-free years is the minimum requirement for an NBAA Safety Award but the actual number of years for many of the technicians adds up to four decades or more.
NBAA Convention News talked with five of the top maintenance technicians for 2006; the top seven collectively have 271 years of accident-free corporate aviation involvement.
John Porter of CSX’s Corporate Aviation Department (39 years) and John Rogerson of General Dynamics (38 years) are included in the list, but both have been retired for several years. Gary Rogerson, General Dynamics’ director of flight operations, said his father, John Rogerson, retired as chief of maintenance in 1990 but came back to be involved with the completions on the company’s Gulfstream IVs.�
James Miller started working at Teterboro Airport for BLS Aviation in 1966, meaning he will mark his 42nd year in the business next March. He told NBAA Convention News that he has been interested in aviation since he was a kid, and attended a vocational school for aviation. He was also involved with aviation in the U. S. Army.
The department operates a Gulfstream IV, which Miller lists as his favorite airplane to work on. “It’s a very nice airplane,” he said, “maintenance friendly, and we get very good support from Gulfstream.”
Asked to what he attributed his long safety record, he replied, simply, “Common sense.”
Chief of Aircraft Maintenance
GTC Management Services
Robert Motl has served as chief of aircraft maintenance for GTC Management Services’ East Coast operations for 17 years. In addition to being an A&P, he is an ATP-rated pilot with type ratings in the Gulfstream II, III and IV and Bombardier Challenger 601. He became involved in aviation while serving in the U.S. Army.
When NBAA Convention News asked which was his favorite corporate airplane to work on, he replied, “The one that’s in the hangar!”
He said his long safety record could be attributed to “uncompromising standards” and “the support of my colleagues.”
GTC Management is a media and entertainment company. The East Coast operation, based at Long Island MacArthur Airport in Islip, N.Y., operates a Gulfstream IV, a GV and a G550.
Eric Van Benschoten
Chief of Maintenance
While still in A&P school at the Teterboro School of Aeronautics, Eric Van Benschoten started working as a line service tech for Teterboro Aircraft Service at Teterboro Airport (TEB) in New Jersey. He moved up to aircraft maintenance and inspection repairs, and then to engine overhauls for all the flight school aircraft. “After I received my A&P license, my boss again moved me into a new position as installer for avionics packages on turbine aircraft,” he told NBAA Convention News. “Then he moved me to the bench repairs and warranty service.” Van Benschoten later became the department’s Northeast troubleshooter in charge of the warranty repair service center for all the major avionics manufacturers.
“Later, I started my own business at Morristown Airport, doing avionics maintenance repairs and installation service and aircraft maintenance service,” he said. When the bottom dropped out of general aviation in the late 1970s, he said, he became director of maintenance for Air Charter Service. He then joined Warner Lambert as chief of maintenance and continued in that position when the company was bought by Pfizer, adding the collateral duties of environmental health and safety and corporate security officer.
Van Benschoten said he attributes his long safety record to “continuous training, past experience and relying on your gut feeling,” as well as “the quality of work you do, setting the example of high standards for your team members to follow.” He added that his involvement with corporate environmental health and safety played a role.
He pointed out a number of safety innovations that the department has adopted, including equipping its Sikorsky S-76 with the Pulse Light system on the recognition and landing lights and installing fire ports on the cockpit instrument panel, pedestal and circuit breaker panel. “Our department was also one of the first in corporate operations to have EVS on a Gulfstream V,” he said. His department received one of the first Gulfstream G550s in corporate operation, which he pointed to as his favorite airplane to work on, “because of its latest state-of-the-art in technology.”
And, he added, one realizes “people’s lives depend on the quality of our work.”
In fact, aviation safety was the reason Van Benschoten became involved in the industry, he said. A high school friend had gone to the College of Aeronautics at La Guardia Airport, and then worked for Pan Am. His friend returned to his small town for the weekend in his uniform, which impressed his hometown friends. The friend was killed in an airplane crash. In an effort to find out why this had happened, Van Benschoten became involved in aviation.
He concluded, “My aviation career has been rewarding, exciting and a growing experience that I could never have imagined for myself.”
Director of Aircraft Maintenance
Peter Kubler grew up in the Bronx, N.Y., under the flight path to La Guardia Airport, so it was natural that he decided to attend New York’s Aviation High School. “The teachers there not only taught but also motivated the students and instilled ethics,” he said. He is both a maintenance and an avionics technician, with A&P, IA and FCC ratings/licenses. He is also a commercial pilot, having attended the first corporate flight school at FlightSafety in La Guardia’s Marine Terminal. He took Gulfstream II initial pilot training in 1972 when he was working for Combustion Engineering at Westchester County Airport in White Plains, N.Y., his first aviation job. He later became chief of maintenance for Mobil Oil in Virginia and then spent five years with Trillium as director of maintenance. He has served as director of maintenance for Nike’s flight department for six years. Nike’s current fleet includes two Gulfstream Vs and a Dassault Falcon 2000EX. Kubler said that his favorite corporate aircraft to work on is the Gulfstream, and then the Lear 24F, which he calls “a real little hot rocket.”
He attributes his long safety record to “never taking anything for granted and being a bit paranoid–coupled with good training.”
Kubler acknowledged that his current base in Portland is “a long way from where I started back in New York,” but “overall, it has been one heck of a ride for a kid who grew up in the South Bronx. I’ve been given the opportunity to meet some wonderful and great people along the way. Yes, corporate aviation has been good to me.”
Johnson & Johnson
West Trenton, N.J.
Timothy Detwiler has been chief inspector for Johnson & Johnson’s corporate flight department for five years.
He became involved in aviation working part time at Carson Helicopters, in Perkasie, Pa., during high school, toiling there in the evenings, on weekends and holidays. He told NBAA Convention News that it was a good summer job that paid fairly well, and offered the opportunity to travel throughout the U.S.
His early interest in helicopters is reflected in his answer to the question of favorite corporate aircraft to work on–he lists the Sikorsky S-76 followed by the Gulfstream IV.
As for the reasons for his long safety record, he said, “Attention to detail.”
Johnson & Johnson operates a Sikorsky S-76C+, Gulfstream IV, G450 and G550 from New Jersey’s Trenton Mercer County Airport.