It’s not a stretch to say that Western Aircraft grew up right along with corporate aviation. The MRO’s lineage reaches back to the late 1930s when it started as the corporate flight department for the Morrison Knudsen Corporation, operating a fleet of DC-3s. MK Aviation received its FAA Repair Station Certificate in 1957, making it one of the first MROs in the western U.S.
After a name change in 1985, Western Aircraft has continued to evolve and expand into one of the largest, and most respected, independent MRO facilities in all of corporate aviation. Today, along with customers from the western U.S. and Canada, it welcomes operators from as far away as Florida and Mexico to its beautiful Boise, Idaho, base.
But, you ask, why would owner/operators from those locations fly over some “big name” maintainers and select Western Aircraft? Simple: because the company started as a corporate flight department, it knows what operators are looking for: top-of-the-line MRO capabilities, complemented by personalized customer service.
“Western Aircraft is an authorized service center for brands like Dassault Falcon, Embraer, Pilatus, Daher (Kodiak), Piper, and Textron and we are adding capabilities for Citations and Gulfstreams. Concentrating our services on the types of aircraft our customers fly positions us well to serve them,” said Kerry Heiss, Western Aircraft’s director of sales and marketing. “We have all of the capabilities that operators need, yet we are small enough to deliver very personalized service and attention. It’s the best of all worlds, wrapped up with our scenic Boise location.”
“From simple inspections to cabin updates, to complete wing de-mates, customers come here because they know we are very capable at everything we do,” added Western Aircraft’s VP and general manager, Austin Shontz. “Many of our customers have been coming here for years. As their needs have changed, we’ve continued to expand and add services as their fleets and aircraft have grown in size.
“The transition from providing heavy Falcon maintenance to offering the same for larger Gulfstreams or Embraer jets is a pretty easy step for us,” Shontz said. “We’ve already invested in the tooling, equipment, and training to be very proficient in that type of work. The big problem was we ran out of hangar and shop space.
“We just completed a big facility expansion in late 2014, and now we’re adding more space. Our new expansion will add nearly 100,000 square feet of hangar, back shop, and office space,” he continued. “Doubling the size of our campus will allow us to bring in new big iron from Falcon, Embraer, and Gulfstream.”
Heiss explained that the expansion will enable Western Aircraft to continue to meet its customers’ needs by having all of the MRO services they require under “one roof.”
“We’re going to be able to greatly enhance our current capabilities. We will now have dedicated space for much larger interior and avionics shops. Those are two growth areas for us,” he said. “We’re also completing all the steps to gain OEM authorizations and approvals for more aircraft and engine types.
“For example, we have a lot more Citations coming through the facility now. Because of that, we went out and earned authorization from Williams to work on their engines,” Heiss continued. “We’re expanding to provide more capabilities where it makes sense for us and our customers.”
“Over the years, we have developed a lot of fantastic relationships with clients from all over the U.S. and Canada,” Shontz said. “They know that when they come here, they’ll be treated like friends, not a job number. They appreciate that, and they appreciate the steps we continue to take to ensure that Western Aircraft is the only MRO provider they need.”
Putting all the pieces together, Western Aircraft’s strategy for success is pretty simple: Add services, capabilities and space to meet existing customers’ changing needs and to support new customers looking for alternatives to their current MRO.