In the late 1950s, the Lynch brothers established their aviation company in Billings, Mont. Over the years Lynch Flying Service thrived in the emerging private and business aviation industry.
On April Fool’s Day 2001, Cliff Edwards purchased Lynch Flying Service. Edwards, one of Lynch’s long-time charter customers, admired the family nature of the business and its dedicated employees. It was a natural fit for Edwards, who had the same business philosophy.
Today, Cliff’s sons Chris and John head the family business in close cooperation with general manager Robb Bergeson. According to all three of the Edwards, who are practicing attorneys in Billings, it is an exciting time for their business as it grows with Billings and the surrounding areas of Eastern Montana and the Western Dakotas.
Bergeson attributes growth at the company in part to significant oil and gas development in Eastern Montana and Western North Dakota. It makes Billings the banking and medical hub for a large geographic area ranging from Fargo, N.D., to Denver and Boise, Idaho, to Seattle.
“There are few major corporations based in Billings, but it has become the center of operations for the oil and gas industry in this region. The land guys, the major players, they all come to Billings to make their deals,” he said. “Billings has grown significantly in the past ten years. We now have about 110,000 residents and with the surrounding communities it’s up to about 160,000, so from our perspective we’re seeing all kinds of traffic here.”
Piston-powered singles and twins based in Billings account for a significant portion of EJC’s maintenance work, but the MRO also supports an ever-increasing number of turbine-powered transient aircraft.
“I think all aspects of our business have the potential for growth but particularly in the last five years we’ve seen a substantial increase in the maintenance side. We handle a lot of the transient turbine maintenance,” Bergeson said. “Our Part 145 repair station has a lot of King Air experience. It is a common aircraft operating in this region and we’ve had them in our charter fleet for 25 years. We currently operate six under our Part 135 certificate and maintain about another dozen.”
This past July, Beechcraft Global Customer Support appointed Edwards Jet Center an authorized service center for the company’s King Air, Baron and Bonanza products.
Wide Range of Maintenance Offerings
The EJC operation is situated on 845,349 sq ft of leased ground at Billings Logan Field. The complex includes 89,880 sq ft of hangar space and 19,260 sq ft of FBO and office space.
EJC has dedicated 28,675 sq ft of hangar space for aircraft maintenance composed of three facilities and remains adaptable to using any of its space to support the MRO if necessary.
The company has 82 full-time and 85 part-time employees. Twenty-three, including 19 A&Ps, are dedicated to the maintenance operation. Edwards Jet Center also has one avionics tech.
EJC is a Part 145 repair station with a capabilities list that includes airframe, powerplant, accessory, limited airframe, limited powerplant, limited specialized service, limited instrument and limited radio.
In addition to its Beechcraft service center authorization, EJC holds approval from Cessna to provide maintenance for the airframer’s piston singles and twins and, according to Bergeson, is the oldest active authorized Cessna piston parts dealer in the U.S. For the past two-and-a-half years, EJC has also been the maintenance provider for Silver Airways, the essential air service provider for Montana. EJC has maintained the airline’s four Beechcraft 1900s.
Given the nature of the region, EJC attracts aircraft that support both wilderness flight operations and executive transportation. “We work on everything from the Piper Cub flown by a local flying club all the way up to the Boeing 757, which we are contracted to maintain here in Billings under an agreement with Federal Express,” Bergeson said. “We do a lot of work on single- and twin-engine pistons, including annual inspections, engine inspection and maintenance, rigging, removal and installation of primarily Continental and Lycoming.”
EJC also performs King Air manufacturer and progressive inspections, gear inspections and overhauls, and Pratt & Whitney Canada PT6 maintenance, rigging and balancing.
“In general, we do a lot of general maintenance on light jets up to a Falcon 50, on which we perform manufacturer and progressive inspections, gear inspections and overhauls, and JT15D engine maintenance, inspection, rigging, removal and installation. We also do Williams FJ44 engine maintenance, inspection and rigging,” Bergeson said.
“One of the things that attracts customers is the ability to take advantage of what Montana has to offer. A lot of our customers will bring an aircraft in for maintenance and use the time to visit Yellowstone or to go fly fishing,” Bergeson said. “However, I truly believe what keeps bringing them back is our employees. Our two greatest strengths are our employees, who are good at what they do and good at interacting with our customers; it’s the Montana way of life.”