NBAA Convention News

Technicians Recognized for Years of Safe Service

 - October 29, 2012, 2:40 PM

Each year, the National Business Aviation Association recognizes the top aviation maintenance and avionics technicians with excellent safety records who work for member companies. AIN interviewed some of the top technicians for 2011 to learn about their backgrounds and safety philosophies.

Nathan Schumacher, manager of aircraft maintenance

Williams-Sonoma Flight Ops

San Francisco

45 years

Nathan Schumacher has worked for global retailer Williams-Sonoma for 17 years as manager of aircraft maintenance. The company operates a Bombardier Global 5000, but Schumacher said his favorite corporate aircraft to work on are the Gulfstream II and III.

Before joining Northrop’s flight department in 1973, which operated the Gulfstream I and II, Schumacher worked at Northwest Orient Airlines and in general aviation. “Since then,” he said, “I have worked for various Fortune 500 company flight departments operating a wide range of corporate aircraft, including Sabreliners, JetStars, Gulfstreams, Falcons, Learjets and Citations.”

Schumacher’s long safety record is due, he said, to “formal safety procedures, commitment to follow them and unrelenting attention to detail.”

Jorge Lopez, maintenance coordinator

Gama Aviation

Stratford, Conn.

43 years

Jorge Lopez is maintenance coordinator for a Gama Aviation Bombardier Challenger 604. He attended Aviation High School in Queens, N.Y., and joined the U.S. Air Force after graduation. “They put me right to work,” he said, “as I already had my [A&P].” Lopez worked on cargo airplane engines, then on general aviation aircraft at White Plains, N.Y. He joined General Signal as director of maintenance in 1973, then became director of maintenance for Office Depot in 1998, working on its Challenger 604 and Hawker 800. In 2007, Lopez moved to Gama Aviation, which provides aircraft charter, maintenance, leasing and management.

His safety record, Lopez said, is due to awareness and training, both at FlightSafety International and SimuFlite. “In the years after World War II,” he said, “my father flew open-cockpit aircraft, so I grew up around airplanes. After earning an A&P, an undergraduate degree with honors in aeronautical operations and business administration and my FCC radio/radar certifications, I thought I would switch to engineering and became an honors-level graduate student in mathematics and computer engineering at San Jose State University. I was good at it, but I got bored and decided that aviation was more fun than sitting in an office extracting digital circuits out of Boolean equations.”

Arnold D. Folkersma, chief of maintenance

Universal Forest Products

Grand Rapids, Mich.

41 years

Arnold Folkersma became interested in aviation as a youngster, watching TAC and SAC aircraft fly from Michigan’s Kincheloe Air Force Base. He received his aviation maintenance engineering technology degree from Parks College of Aeronautical Technology in 1971 and worked for Lorain County Aviation, maintaining a corporate Bell 47. His next job was director of maintenance for Northern Jet Management. For the last 13 years, Folkersma has been chief of maintenance for Universal Forest Products, a manufacturer and distributor of wood and wood-alternative products, which operates multiple companies throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

“I have worked on many corporate aircraft in my career,” he said, “including Learjets, Hansa Jets, Swearingen Metros, Beechcraft King Airs, Beechjets and Hawkers, Challengers and Citations. I thoroughly enjoy maintaining the Citation X, which Universal Forest Products operates.”

Attention to detail is his safety secret. “This begins,” Folkersma said, “by making sure that I always use the latest publications from the manufacturers and use the right tools and equipment. I also make sure that I have the proper knowledge to do the job. I consistently stayed on top of the ever-changing technology and have more than 70 training certificates, which means that in 41 years I attended some kind of training or classes at a rate of almost two per year.

“In 1995,” he said, “I was honored by the local FAA Flight Standards District Office with an award as the maintenance technician of the year. The following year I was honored with another award from the FSDO as the aviation safety counselor of the year.”

David Hazen, director of maintenance


Springfield, Ill.

40 years

Dave Hazen started working for Bunn-O-Matic, a beverage equipment manufacturer, in 1975 and has been director of maintenance for 17 years. He said he was excited to start his career in the early 1970s working on the Lear 20 series at Duncan Aviation, Lincoln, Neb. “I even met Bill Lear,” he said. He then worked for Midwest Air Charter and became service manager for Garrett Aviation.

Hazen grew up in northwest Iowa, and a neighbor used to take him up in his Piper Cherokee and let him fly. He started taking flying lessons, but said he got so involved in maintenance that he chose a career in that area of aviation.

Bunn-O-Matic has always operated Beech airplanes, he said, and now flies a King Air 300 and a Hawker 400XP. He said he’s enjoyed working on all of the airplanes that he has encountered.

The years of safety success, Hazen said, come from keeping yourself trained, knowing the systems of the aircraft you’re working on, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and staying alert. His training includes Master Technician recognition from FlightSafety International on King Airs.