New Partnership Expands Alaska Support

 - June 8, 2011, 10:00 AM

Freedom Aero Service has partnered with Merrill Field Instruments to provide an accessory shop on Merrill Field in Anchorage.

“Alaska is a unique operating environment, and we’re mindful that operators have special requirements,” Scott Durham, president of Freedom Aero Service, told AIN. “Operators, for the most part, work in isolated areas with limited transportation access and extremely harsh environmental conditions. When there’s an issue with a component the solution is not trivial.”

Durham said he was surprised to learn there wasn’t an accessory shop in Alaska. “It’s not a simple process for an operator in the Alaska bush to get a component to our Lincoln, California, facility in a timely and cost-effective manner. It can take several days to get it to us and for us to send the operator a replacement unit,” he said. 

“[The tie-up is] a good match since [Merrill Field Instruments does] avionics and instrument installation and overhaul. We’ve transferred to their facility a combination of end unit and piece parts appropriate to common fixed-wing and helicopters operating in that part of the world. They now stock our starter generators, voltage regulators and piece parts for on-site service,” he said. Merrill Field technicians can do minor component repair, but they ship more complex repair and overhaul jobs to Freedom Aero Service and replace it with one of the inventory stock items.

Durham makes a compelling argument for his service, particularly for operators in Alaska, where conditions are harsh and operating costs can be significantly higher than elsewhere in the U.S.

“An overhauled unit will often cost the operator as little as 15 percent of a new one. A new Cessna Caravan generator is in the $10,00 to $15,000 range; an overhauled one can cost as little as $2,000,” he said.

“However there’s an even more significant aspect to using an overhauled component that we’ve worked on. We have learned how the environment in Alaska affects components and we are mindful of that during overhaul. You always have to follow the approved procedure, of course, but experience has taught us there are specific things to watch for and take care of that will help assure the component’s normal life expectancy in that harsh environment.” 

Freedom Aero Service is an FAA Part 145 repair station specializing in turbine-powered fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters such as the Cessna Caravan, Beech 1900, AS350 and MD500. The company operates out of a 10,000-sq-ft facility and has 10 employees including eight technicians. “Our inventory grows and shrinks, but we’ll have about 150 components on the shelf at any given time ready to be shipped to customers,” Durham said.