In The Beginning...
In 1973, Leo Sawatzki stepped off the Navy ship U.S.S. Constellation and signed on with Duncan Aviation in Lincoln, Nebraska, as a jet engine mechanic. He was prepared to service GE CJ610 and Pratt & Whitney PT6 engines. However, it wasn’t long after he arrived that Airesearch introduced a new engine, the TFE731. This engine showed lots of promise. Leo and six other Duncan Aviation turbine engine mechanics, with only a four-section wooden box filled with plugs, caps and hardware, were eager to discover and learn all they could.
Early on, as with many first-generation technologies, this new engine had some growing pains. Our engine technicians were called upon many times to provide Aircraft on Ground (AOG) services. Just by the sheer volume of hands-on, field-repair work, they discovered first-hand how the engines operated and what was needed to fix them.
Seeing an unmet need, it didn’t take long before we invested in the necessary tooling and equipment to dispatch a team to any location whenever the calls came in. And the calls did come. On a weekly basis, mechanics were sent as far away as Iceland, Argentina or Canada... or to the hangar just down the road. Their quick responses made them the go-to guys for TFE731 on-the-road engine services.
This Duncan Aviation team was the original AOG engine road crew before such crews became popular. This practice of being ready to travel at a moment’s notice is the genesis of Duncan Aviation’s Engine Rapid Response Teams (RRT). Today, our RRTs are strategically located all across the United States, able to reach an operator’s location in as little as 24 hours.
We had become a reliable resource for TFE731 operators flying all over the world, proving that even a small shop from the middle of America had a worldwide impact. In 1981, we hit two milestones and received major level authorization to work on the Airesearch TPE331 and TFE731engines. These authorizations allowed all who previously relied upon us to come to their rescue during times of need to entrust their engines to us for high-level, expert Major Periodic Inspection (MPI) service.
In those early years, the Duncan Aviation engine team disassembled the engines and sent them out for repair, relying on the abilities and time schedule of others. The culture at Duncan Aviation has always been to deliver only the best, on time and at budget. Unfortunately, not every company has the same level of customer commitment. "We knew we could provide these same services better, faster and cheaper," says Leo. With that, the decision was made to invest in the research, tooling and training to bring those capabilities in-house.
Engine Services Today
Today, Airesearch is now Honeywell and Duncan Aviation Engine Services has grown to include 73 licensed factory-trained turbine engine technicians working two shifts to provide line maintenance, MPIs, AOG road services and technical expertise, in support of Honeywell, Pratt & Whitney, Rolls Royce and Williams International aircraft turbine engines.
The "four-room" wooden box is now a modern 20,000-square-foot facility with 12 separate engine bays. In 2014, we added a 4,050-square-foot engine line maintenance shop to support in-house aircraft maintenance events. This makes Duncan Aviation truly a one-stop shop for all turbine engine maintenance events.
Obtaining the maximum performance out of your engines is an art mastered by the Duncan Aviation turbine engine professionals. Generations of experience combined with investment in all Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM)-authorized repair methods bring the most reliable and proven techniques to ensure performance and reliability of your engines.
Leo, now the Engine Acquisitions and Sales Manager, has seen first-hand the changes the TFE731 has gone through over the last 38 years. One thing has remained constant—Duncan Aviation has remained Duncan Aviation. The company has never changed its name, its ownership or its commitment to delivering only the best.
Years To Come
In 2015, we reached another milestone with the designation as a Honeywell AS907 (HTF 7000) Series Minor Maintenance facility.
Duncan Aviation is the only U.S.-run, family-owned company with this length of historical and technical experience on the TFE731. We are still Duncan Aviation. We have been there since the beginning. And we’ll be here for generations to come.