The Duncan Download Blog: Business Aviation Advice & Observations

Duncan Aviation Expands Avionics Install Service to San Antonio!

Posted by Kate Dolan on Tue, Aug 02, 2016 @ 09:00 AM

San_Antonio-iStock_94238769_XLARGE_Small.jpgToday, Duncan Aviation opens a new office at the San Antonio International Airport in Texas. In an effort to position our skilled avionics technician in closer proximity to customers, Greg Ashpaugh, is moving to San Antonio and will be the Manager of the new work-away location.

“Over the years, numerous customers have asked us to consider a work-away location in San Antonio,” says Matt Nelson, Manager of Satellite Operations. “After assessing the city and airport, we agree that San Antonio is a great place for a Duncan Aviation technician. Not only does the mix of aircraft based at that airport closely match our business model, but also the city of San Antonio is attractive because of its strong, diverse economic base.”

Greg Ashpaugh, San Antonio Manager

Greg—until recently Crew-Lead at the Dallas satellite avionics facility—is looking forward to working on customers’ aircraft in and around San Antonio. While working as an aircraft engine mechanic on E-2 Hawkeyes and C-2 Greyhounds in the US Navy for six years, Greg earned his A&P license at the Sierra Academy of Aeronautics in Oakland, California.

After his service, Greg worked at various avionics shops in the Dallas area before hiring on at the Duncan Aviation Dallas Satellite avionics facility 13 years ago.

“In addition to really liking what I do, I think Duncan Aviation is a great place to work,” says Greg. “The company takes care of us, and it has been very, very good to me.”

From the Dallas Satellite facility, Greg traveled to work on aircraft in San Antonio, Austin, and Fort Worth in Texas, as well as to New Orleans, Louisiana. He anticipates that he’ll continue to travel from his new work-away location. “We’re here for our customers, wherever here is,” says Greg.

Located on the southeast side of the San Antonio International Airport, the new office will let Greg focus on line maintenance, AOG, and small install work.

“We’re easing into this new work-away location,” says Matt, “And we’ll hire additional team members as customer needs and response requires.”

Duncan Aviation's Avionics Satellite shops are strategically based at more than 25 business aviation airports across the United States. Each location is interdependent, sharing staff and resources to support customers anywhere they land, live or hangar their aircraft.

For more inforamation, download the Satellite Avioincs fact sheet. 

Duncan Aviation   Avionics Satellite Fact Sheet

Tags: Avionics Installation

Duncan Aviation Powers On CJ3 Fusion Flight Deck

Posted by Duncan Download Blog on Wed, Jul 13, 2016 @ 09:40 AM

CJ3_blog.jpgDuncan Aviation avionics installation technicians this week turned power on to the Rockwell Collins Pro Line Fusion® flight deck upgrade being installed and certified in the Citation CJ3. Duncan Aviation avionics technicians have been installing and testing the equipment since mid-May. The airplane is expected to fly in the next few weeks and be certified by the end of 2016. 


 The Fusion upgrade provides Citation CJ3 owners with an aftermarket option for meeting mandates while simultaneously enhancing ownership and the flying experience by replacing the factory-installed portrait displays with larger 14.1-inch landscape touchscreen primary flight displays. The new system includes intuitive, touch-interactive maps, and easy-to-use icons, giving the pilot the ability to control items on the screen through touch. It also eliminates the need for FMS (Flight Management System) control display units originally installed in the pedestal.

To see progress on this exciting flight deck enhancement, visit Duncan Aviation’s CJ3 Pro Line Fusion Progress Gallery 

CJ3 Proline Fusion View Progress Gallery Now

Duncan Aviation and Rockwell Collins are offering 25 early adopter incentive packages for interested operators. Half of those incentive slots have already sold.

For more information about the upgrade, visit or call one of the Duncan Aviation’s technical sales experts:


Jeff Simmons





Melissa Raddatz




HARPG.jpgGary Harpster

402.475.2611 ext. 1374

Tags: Avionics Installation

Duncan Aviation Spotlight: Denver Avionics Satellite

Posted by Kate Dolan on Wed, Jun 29, 2016 @ 12:54 PM

In the USAF (United States Air Force), Bob Hazy frequently flew into Lowry Air Force Base in Denver, Colorado and knew he’d eventually like to live in the state. He also knew from his dealings with Duncan Aviation, that it was an upstanding company that conducted business with integrity. He could see himself working there after retiring from the USAF.

Once he retired in 1998, however, Bob initially went to work for an aviation company in Wichita.

“In the Air Force, I worked on avionics, so after retiring, I started working as an avionics technician at an avionics shop in Wichita,” says Bob.

Within two years, he was working for Duncan Aviation at the Fort Lauderdale, Florida, avionics satellite facility. While working with Dave Molsberry, the shop frequently had a surplus of work, so techs from Duncan Aviation’s Denver facility helped out in Florida. 

Duncan Aviation   Avionics Satellite Fact Sheet

When a position opened at the Denver facility in 2004, Bob left the sun and sand of Florida behind and moved his family to Denver. He worked for Matt Nelson, who was manager of the Denver shop at the time. When Matt was promoted to Manager of Satellite Operations in 2008, Bob took over as Manager of the Duncan Aviation Denver satellite avionics facility.

Bob’s opinion of the company hasn’t changed much in the 16 years he’s worked for Duncan Aviation.

“It’s a great company to work for, and we have an incredible mix of people here in Denver,” says Bob. “In fact, I think we’re the best satellite because of the 14 people who work at this shop . . . well, 12 plus V12 and Beau in Broomfield. The atmosphere of our shop is so special that when anyone comes here to help us out, they want to stay here, too!”

V12, as Bob has nicknamed him, is Chris Vadeboncoeur, and he works in Broomfield at the Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport. Broomfield is about 35 miles northwest of the Centennial Airport. The shop does mostly line work, and crews from the Denver satellite shop help with installations. Chris takes care of the airplanes from the northern airports in Fort Collins and Greeley, and he even services some from Casper, Wyoming, and Scottsbluff, Nebraska.

During ski season from December 1 through April 30, Roy (Beau) Hawkins works at the Vail Valley Jet Center in Gypsum, Colorado, servicing planes for skiers. He joins V12 at the Broomfield facility from May 1 through November 30.

As much as Bob values the technical skills and expertise of his team, he knows that his facility works as well as it does because everyone wants to be there, they value their relationships with customers and fellow team members, and they all love the environment and community, too.

“Everything we do takes teamwork and respect,” says Bob. “We’re located at a busy airport in a busy part of the country, and we work on everything from small, experimental aircraft all the way up to Globals. Although this is Falcon country, and we see a lot of 900s, 2000s, 7Xs, and 50s, we are also starting to see more Gulfstreams and Hawkers, too.”


Erik Benson, Ken Smith, Kim Owen, John Sims, Wayne Sand, Thomas Gauna, Chris Demarest, Sean Macoomb, Matt Whitney, Bob Hazy. Not Pictured: Rodney Weaver, Charles Anderson, Chris Vadeboncoeur, Beau Hawkins

The Denver avionics satellite maintains the avionics systems of general aviation, business charter, and even government aircraft. There are roughly 600 small reciprocating aircraft and 250 jet aircraft that make their home at the Centennial Airport in Denver, where the Duncan Aviation avionics satellite facility is located. Bob and his team work on aircraft located along the front range of the Rocky Mountains, from Albuquerque, New Mexico, to Bozeman, Montana.

“I couldn’t be more proud of the team and the relationships that the Denver satellite has built,” says Matt Nelson. “They make our jobs a lot easier.”

More importantly for the customers, the techs from the Denver satellite facility usually travel to customers’ hangars to do their repair, maintenance, and installation work. The shop focuses primarily on avionics line work and avionics installations. They’ve been installing ADS-B out on a lot of smaller aircraft and are just starting to see ADS-B installations on larger aircraft.

“Typically, we see the Gogo Biz High Speed Data installations to Garmin stacks and FMS upgrades. We’ve done a lot of TCAS 7.1, too,” says Bob. “Lots of our customers travel outside of the United States, so they’re installing the mandated NextGen equipment.”

Bob says that brief description doesn’t begin to capture the range of work they do, though. They also work directly with some of our vendors like Gogo Biz and help with their STCs.

“We recently modified the Gogo Biz Challenger so they could test new equipment in the future,” says Bob. “A great example of our quality was when we did a complete upgrade of an FMS for a customer who was taking his aircraft out of the country to New Zealand. After 10 years of flawless operation, the DOM sent Matt Nelson a letter that said, ‘You guys talk about guaranteeing your work for the life of the aircraft, and you can do that because your work lasts that long! We just sold that aircraft squawk-free.’”


An abundance of sunshine and blue sky was on hand for the Duncan Aviation Denver Satellite Avionics customer appreciation BBQ at the Centennial Airport in Englewood, CO. Hundreds of customers from the area enjoyed great food. 

Tags: Avionics Installation

Why Are You Still Using Floppy Disks? Five Reasons to Upgrade to the DL-950

Posted by Duncan Download Blog on Thu, Jun 09, 2016 @ 01:00 PM

1_DL-950.jpgTechnology is amazing. Most pilots and flight planners use smart phones and iPads for everything from researching FBO stops to finding a great caterer. But several are still using floppy disks to update the on-aircraft navigation database. That’s right. Floppy disks.

If you fall in that category and use a Honeywell DL-900 data loader, there are five very good reasons to look at upgrading to the DL-950 or DL-1000.

  1. Floppy disk technology is just plain old. 
    • Many companies, including Honeywell, will no longer support these units after December 31, 2016. And since you need up-to-date navigation information, you need to look for a solution. In addition, the DL-900 is no longer covered by the Honeywell Avionics Protection Plan (HAPP). The DL-950 or DL-1000 is covered by HAPP.
  2. Loading is Faster. 
    • Floppy disk loading (which is going away) requires several floppy disks and takes quite a bit of time to load new approaches every month. With Honeywell’s USB loading, you can load new approaches into your navigation database in as little as 10 minutes. This process can eliminate loading errors commonly associated with floppy disks and can save you some serious time waiting on the ground during your next trip.
  3. Installation is Easy.
    • DL-900 operators don’t have to worry about a lengthy installation and extended downtime on their aircraft. Honeywell’s DL-950 and DL-1000 are designed as form-fit replacements and use the existing mount and connector. Duncan Aviation can complete this installation, including paperwork, in less than a day.
  4. Downloading Data is More Efficient. 
    • Every month when you receive an update from Honeywell, you no longer have to spend hours in front of a computer loading multiple floppy disks to get the data you need. In fact, with our latest technology, you can download from the convenience of your laptop and take your USB on-the-go – it’s that simple!
  5. Duncan Aviation’s Satellite Avionics Shops and Rapid Response Team offices are Located Across the United States. 
    • Duncan Aviation has experienced avionics technicians who can assist with the upgrade from any of the company’s locations, including its full-service locations in Battle Creek, Michigan; Lincoln, Nebraska; and Provo, Utah; at its 20+ avionics satellites; or through the company’s Rapid Response Team offices. For a complete list of Duncan Aviation locations, go here:

For more information about the Honeywell DL-950 or DL-1000, visit, feel free to contact me at +1 402.479.4202 or via email

Note: Three of the five reasons above were picked up with permission from an earlier Honeywell article, which can be found here:

Tags: Avionics & Instruments, Avionics Installation

Tribute To J. Robert Duncan, Part II

Posted by Kate Dolan on Thu, Apr 28, 2016 @ 10:37 AM

DonaldDuncan_RobertDuncan.jpgAs mentioned in Part I, Robert’s father, Donald Duncan, founded Duncan Aviation in 1956 and this year, Duncan Aviation celebrates 60 years. Now read the rest of the story of how Robert’s vision transitioned the small, family business from its modest beginnings into a company with a respected presence around the world.

You can read Tribute To J.Robert Duncan, Part I here 

Parts Consignment

Don Fiedler, now Manager of New Business Development for Components, joined the 10-year-old company in 1966 as the fourth member of the very new avionics team. The team repaired and installed avionics equipment on Bonanzas, Barons, and King Airs, and they also did some work on Harry’s helicopters.

As the industry started shifting from primarily piston engines to turbines, Robert saw the surplus parts for the older prop planes just sitting on shelves, and he surmised that there were probably FBOs around the country that had similar investments in unmoving parts. He envisioned a program where companies would send Duncan Aviation their surplus parts and, based on very new, barely known computer networking—a precursor of today’s Internet—Duncan Aviation would create an inventory of the parts and sell them on consignment.  This vision became AVPAC (Parts & Rotables today) in the early 1980s.

1985AVPAC.jpg“I've had the opportunity to work with all four generations. Donald in the early days, then Robert, and now Todd and his sons,” says Project Manager Howard Nitzel. “Robert always had good people to run the day-to-day operations for him. He would be looking at the future, always four or five years out, and willing to try new things. AVPAC is a classic example—a parts support services. It was kind of a pipe dream, and it really took off into a whole industry. Robert was a true visionary, made the company grow, and took care of everyone and their families. He’s a true businessman in every sense of the word.”

Don Fiedler explains that Robert’s vision was to establish a network, collect the parts, set fair prices, and ship them out to buyers the day they ordered.

“He wanted to make it easy to find parts and to get a fair price for them,” says Don. “And he wanted to make sure the inventory was meticulously maintained so we never claimed to have parts we didn’t. ‘First in, first out,’ was Robert’s rule.”

Robert  met with Bob McCammon (now manager of Aircraft Sales), Bob Tooker (Senior Sales Rep/Quality Control for Parts & Rotables Sales), Larry Stewart (former Senior Rotables Manager who retired in January after 43 years with Duncan Aviation), and Don Fiedler and explained his idea to get Duncan Aviation into the parts consignment business.

“It was a wonderful thing to work for that man,” says Don. “I’ve always looked up to Robert. I genuinely know him and really respect and like him. The word I most associate with Robert is ‘visionary.’ He surrounded himself with people who could take his ideas and run with them. And, to his credit, although the ideas were his, he always gave us free rein to make his dreams a reality.”

The Satellite Network

Once AVPAC was up and running, Robert again approached Don with an idea. This time, Robert told Rick Whitesell and Don of an experience he and his wife Karen had at a Lincoln’s Hovland-Swanson department store.

“Karen was trying on shoes, and as I waited, I talked to the manager of the shoe department,” says Robert.  “He told me he worked for a national shoe company. He said, ‘We specialize in shoes; we just lease this space.’ This got me thinking, ‘How could Duncan Aviation, with our expertise in avionics, expand that around the country?’”

Sat-History_03.jpgOne of Duncan Aviation’s greatest assets has always been its employees. Robert knew there were talented, experienced, knowledgeable technicians in Lincoln, hundreds if not thousands of miles away from where the avionics were that needed servicing.

“We joke that the avionics satellites are Robert’s five-minute idea that exploded,” says Don. “He said, ‘How ‘bout this idea? We lease space at established, respected FBOs around the country and put in two-man avionics shops. We keep it simple—do simple stuff in the field and continue to have the complex stuff sent to Lincoln. And we offer free loaners and free tech support.’ That was it!”

As a result of Robert’s “five-minute idea,” Duncan Aviation now has more than 20 avionics satellite shops located at busy airports around the country. Not only do our customers drop into these facilities for quick repairs, but also they can schedule complex installations, including upgrades to avionics that satisfy the NextGen mandates.

Robert credits Don for the success of the program. “It was my concept, but Don ran with it, and now Matt is managing all of them,” says Robert.

Matt is Matt Nelson, Manager of Satellite Operations. He started at Duncan Aviation in 1987 when he was 18 years old, and it was his first full-time job.

“It was summertime, and Todd Duncan and I were in the warehouse washing cars and airplanes,” laughs Matt. “We were about the same age, and we worked hard.”

As someone who has worked at Duncan Aviation for 29 years, Matt is a member of an exclusive club called Silver Wings.

Silver Wings

Silver Wings is a club that Robert created to celebrate employees who have worked at Duncan Aviation for 25 years or more. Because silver commemorates a 25th anniversary, the group that worked with Robert to establish the club chose Silver Wings as its name.

“It’s a way to recognize all of the many contributions our steadfast, loyal, dedicated employees have made in their tenure here. Many of them have been here far longer than 25 years, too, including Don Fiedler. This year, he’ll celebrate his 50th year with the company,” says Robert. “The Silver Wings employees, about 300 of them now, are the core of what Duncan Aviation is about, and they’re the reason so many of our customers can call Duncan Aviation and talk to the same person they’ve dealt with for 25 years or more. It means so much in our industry, and it means so much to us as a company, too.”

SilverWings2014_2.gifThose employees say the same thing about Robert Duncan and Duncan Aviation

“This company has been my life, mostly because of how the Duncan family has always cared for their employees,” says Don. “It’s a company built on integrity, and I’ve always felt privileged to be a part of something so special. It was such an adventure to get hired on at such a young, exciting place, and I’ve been here to see it grow and become the respected company it is today.”

Todd Duncan, too, is a member of the Silver Wings club, as he has been working at Duncan Aviation for 28 years.

Robert’s Son, Todd Duncan

Robert_Todd.jpgTodd has been Chairman of Duncan Aviation since 2007, and he’s seen the company ride the waves, the highs and lows, of the business aviation industry.

“One thing I’ve always admired my Dad for is what he brought to the business every single day, regardless of what we were facing, and that’s his optimistic spirit. He’s always able to look to and find brighter days,” says Todd. “He’s a tremendously forward-looking man, and he’s always so positive. He cares deeply about our employees and our customers. He’s the kind of man who inspires others to do their best, too.”

Todd agrees with what Robert calls the immeasurable value of the employees at Duncan Aviation. Father and son are keenly aware of the network of support they have created and developed at Duncan Aviation.

13100833_10153785619453999_2127267970112683311_n.pngYesterday, at the annual AEA convention in Orlando, Florida, Robert was given a life-time achievement award, recognizing his contributions to the aviation industry and acknowledging everything he’s done at Duncan Aviation in the last 60 years.

 “I couldn’t have done it alone. Everybody out there is doing the work every day—turning the wrenches, fixing the avionics, selling something, or providing support in accounting,” says Robert. “It takes everyone to make this company succeed.”


Tags: Avionics & Instruments, Avionics Installation, Announcements, 60th Anniversary

Fort Lauderdale Avionics Satellite Gets Settled In Their New Location

Posted by Kate Dolan on Wed, Mar 30, 2016 @ 12:13 PM

Moving is a hassle, but the Duncan Aviation satellite facility in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, recently endured the stress and mess in order to take up residence in a spacious new hangar. After vacating a paltry 1,000 square feet of leased space in a 1940’s-era facility, they found themselves with 32,000 square feet in a state-of-the-art hangar that was built in 2007.

Ft.-Lauderdale_sm.jpgEstablished in 1986, the Fort Lauderdale shop has always been located in space rented from and shared with other businesses. As those businesses grew and expanded, the Duncan Aviation shop would have to relocate. Earlier this year, Satellite Operations Manager Matt Nelson and Manager of the Fort Lauderdale shop Brian Redondo realized it would be beneficial for customers if the satellite stopped bouncing around and set up shop in its own hangar.

The shop and offices take up the entire second floor of the hangar and leases much of the main-floor space to Part 91, low-utilization customers who want to store their aircraft in a limited access, secure facility.

“Currently, our hangar houses a Falcon 2000, Hawker 800XP, Learjet 60, and Gulfstream IV, in addition to our aircraft in for maintenance” says Fort Lauderdale Satellite Manager Brian Redondo. “All of them are owned by long-time Duncan Aviation customers. They appreciate the fact that our facility is private, so people can’t just wander in and out, and as tenants they get the fastest service Duncan Aviation can offer.”

Hired as the manager of the Fort Lauderdale shop in 2006, Brian has grown the facility from five employees to 12. One of the things he loves about Duncan Aviation is that although it’s a somewhat large company, it’s still family owned, and employees are treated as family.

“I’ve worked for small companies with five people where you got paid if the owner showed up with his checkbook, and large companies where I was just a number. I still remember that number, too, because I had to use it every time I went to the tool crib, to HR or filled out a form,” says Brian. “I like the culture at Duncan Aviation. It’s large enough to provide stability and benefits and small enough that everyone knows my name.”

When he was about five-years old and living in Old Forge, New York, Brian remembers standing on a dock on Fourth Lake—one of the Fulton Chain Lakes in Adirondack Park—with his father and grandfather. One of his grandfather’s friends pulled up to the dock in his Piper Cub on floats, and Brian and his dad climbed in. They took off, and from the minute the plane lifted off of the lake, Brian was hooked on flying.

Years later at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, Brian got his A&P license, and earned a bachelor’s degree in Aviation Technology (aka avionics). He worked at a number of facilities big and small until he was hired as the manager of the Fort Lauderdale shop in 2006.

With the larger shop space, Brian anticipates an increase in business in the coming year. Currently, less than 50 percent of the avionics installations at the Fort Lauderdale facility satisfy mandates for the upcoming NextGen deadlines.

Click here For more information on NextGen deadlines

“I’d expect to see an increase from our current level to about 75 percent in the coming year,” says Brian. “We also install and repair just about anything: Flight data recorders, flight management systems, 60Hz cabin power, USB outlets, a little cabin entertainment and lots and lots of Wi-Fi to name a few.”

Brian is relieved to have the move behind him, and he’s looking forward to the shop’s future growth. He’s especially appreciative of the support he and the rest of the team members get from Matt Nelson and other managers at Duncan Aviation.

“It’s been a lot of fun to watch the Fort Lauderdale team grow in number and reputation,” says Matt. “I couldn’t be more proud of what they’ve been able to accomplish in such a competitive environment.” 

Tags: Avionics Installation, Announcements

1970s: Don Fiedler and the Duncan Aviation Avionics Shop

Posted by Kate Dolan on Thu, Dec 10, 2015 @ 11:14 AM

In 1966, Don Fiedler, who is now the Manager of New Business Development for Components, joined the very young Duncan Aviation avionics team as its fourth employee. Then called American Learjet, the company (Duncan Beechcraft) had recently relocated from Omaha, Nebraska, to the Lincoln Airport, and Don primarily worked avionics, doing repairs and installations in Bonanzas, Barons and King Airs. One Learjet 23 was located on the airport, and he worked on that as well.

Fiedler-desk.gifDon will wrap up his 50th year in the aviation industry—all of which he has spent at Duncan Aviation—with his retirement in September 2016. He has distinctive memories of every one of his five decades, and he fondly remembers the 1970s as a decade in which Duncan Aviation expanded and grew its avionics capabilities. 

“We did some avionics installs on Cessnas and some on helicopters for Harry Barr’s company called Panhandle Aviation,” says Don. “But once Donald [Duncan, the founder of Duncan Aviation] and Bill Lear finished their negotiations in the ’60s, we were one of only five Learjet service centers in the United States, and by 1970, we were doing a lot of avionics work on Learjets, too.”

Thinking of Learjets reminded Don of how much the late Bill Lear loved the hamburgers from the King’s Food Host on 15th & Cornhusker. Although the Lincoln institution was eventually franchised, there were no King’s restaurants in Wichita, Kansas, where Learjet was located.

“Whenever Bill flew a Lear to Lincoln, he’d radio ahead and ask us to have 10 or 15 King’s hamburgers waiting for him. He’d take most of them back to Wichita with him,” says Don, laughing.

After becoming an authorized Learjet service center, Duncan Aviation acquired all of the test equipment and began repairing and installing avionics equipment in Learjets. Donald Duncan was the best Learjet salesman in the country. In his lifetime, Don Fielder remembers that Donald sold more than 450 Learjets.

When an aircraft was in for an avionics installation, Don says Donald could be a bit of a mercenary about getting the work done.

“Donald would say, ‘We’re paying interest on that airplane until it’s sold’,” Don says. “One time, we had a Beechcraft Baron in here that we were selling to King’s Food Host, and we installed a complete avionics package in it, including an autopilot. I worked autopilots in those days, and I had been working on the install and checkout for more than 20 hours. I went home, took a little nap and then kept working. We finally got it working; Larry Collier and I installed it. We tested it at 1 a.m., and it was out the door the next morning!”

DonFiedler4.gifAnother time in the early ‘70s, Don remembers doing an installation on an older DC-3 for Forke Brothers Auctioneers.

“Back then we didn’t have two shifts—we had the day shift and overtime,” says Don. “It was New Year’s Eve, and we were installing new avionics on an older DC-3. It wasn’t going well, but we had to get it done. We stopped briefly at midnight to acknowledge the New Year, but then we just kept on working through the night and into the next morning.”

In 1974, the Avionics shop was split into two departments—the bench and installations. Don managed the five guys who worked the avionics bench, and Ron Hall ran install, which also had about four guys.

Soon after this split, Clay Lacy brought his aircraft to Duncan Aviation for the first time. He’d acquired a really early Learjet 25, and it had a mixture of autopilots, servos and other older avionics equipment that he wanted to modernize.

“The Learjet was a really early serial number, a prototype, and we were modifying it to match the avionics equipment that was routinely installed in new Learjet 25s in the factory,” says Don. “It needed a whole lot of work, though, and it ended up spending six months in Lincoln so we could modify, install and test all of that equipment.

“That was the start of our more than 40-year working relationship with Clay Lacy,” adds Don.

Ron Hall was the Installation Engineer back in those pre-AutoCAD days, and installations sometimes started out as drawings on the back of a napkin.

“Ron knew those Learjet prints backward and forward, and he knew what had to be disconnected or reconnected and to what. The formal drawings were in a big, bound book, but when he was making changes, he’d always make changes on copies of the original prints,” says Don. “Later, he’d go back and render a formal drawing, but he still drew it by hand. Then, we’d add that formal, final drawing to the prints that went with the aircraft.”

In the late 1970s/early 1980s, Larry Collier who was managing the avionics department at the time pushed to get a license for AutoCAD to render avionics prints.

Larry presented his idea to then President Robert Duncan, who agreed. “After that, rendering formal drawings was much easier. Before AutoCAD, Larry or Ron would have to redraw the whole print every time anyone made a change. With the computer program, they just made modifications to the drawing,” Don says.

One of Don’s favorite memories from the 1970s was related to electronics but not necessarily avionics. He remembers the bag phone that Donald Duncan had in his Cadillac. It was one of the first mobile phones anyone at Duncan Aviation had ever seen.

“He loved that phone,” recalls Pam Orr, Travel Coordinator and 39-year Duncan Aviation employee. “When Donald suffered his heart attack and died in 1981, the phone was buried with him.”

2016 is a special year. It is Duncan Aviation’s 60th year of helping business aircraft operators be safe, efficient and productive. For six decades, customers have asked us for solutions and services. We are celebrating our 60 years by telling the stories about the people of Duncan Aviation who listened and took action.

Celebrate with us by subscribing to the Duncan Download blog, following us on Facebook and Twitter (@DuncanAviation) and visiting our anniversary website at

Tags: Avionics Installation, Learjet, 60th Anniversary

What Do Unicorns & ADS-B Exemptions Have in Common? Neither Actually Exist

Posted by Adrian Chene on Tue, Oct 27, 2015 @ 11:13 AM

You can always dream, but Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast (ADS-B) exemptions fall into roughly the same category as unicorns.

When Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus introduced a live unicorn into its lineup in 1985, it created quite a stir. The question that swirled around the animal was whether it was a real horn. Although the horn was real, many people ignored the most important fact; the animal was a goat.

In much the same way, there has been much misunderstanding with regard to a recent ADS-B exemption letter from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Some operators heard ADS-B and exemption in the same sentence and immediately began planning for non-compliance. The reality though is that in 2020 an ADS-B transponder exemption is as likely as Ringling Bros. having an actual unicorn at one of their shows.

The controversy started when Airlines for America, the trade organization that represents the principle U.S. airlines, sent the FAA a request for an exemption. The exemption request indicated that much of the airline fleet was not currently equipped with Wide Area Augmentation System (WAAS) Global Positioning System (GPS) units that supported the required navigational performance. Airlines for America also noted that the required performance—even for the correct WAAS GPS—was not always possible. In light of that, the organization requested that the GPS section of the ADS-B mandate be extended to 2025.

The part of the letter that most folks missed was that it only applies to the portion of the ADS-B mandate that deals with new WAAS requirements for GPS. A transponder that transmits in an ADS-B message format is required to operate above 10,000 feet by 2020.

The FAA agreed with Airlines for America and granted a temporary exemption from the GPS accuracy portion of ADS-B. The FAA has since been getting out the word that operators are still required to have an ADS-B-compliant transponder to meet the mandate. (Visit for current information on the mandates.)

Owner/operators who opt for an exemption must submit an annual request to the director of the local Flight Standards District Offices (FSDO) until the aircraft is equipped with the mandated receivers. This annual request must include a plan for an eventual upgrade to the mandated WAAS GPS and is subject to approval. For aircraft that are scheduled for major inspections at a facility where a WAAS GPS installation is available, your FSDO may deny your request. “I don’t want to upgrade,” may not be a good reason to apply for an exemption.

With manufacturers, such as Universal Avionics, Honeywell Aerospace and Rockwell Collins offering incentive programs for Flight Management Systems (FMSes) and transponder upgrades, now is the time to include new WAAS/Localizer Performance with Vertical Guidance (LPV) and ADS-B in your aircraft’s budget at your next major inspection.

Don’t bet on the unicorn.


For the most current information on the NextGen mandates visit Duncan Aviation NextGen Resource

Adrian Chene is an avionics tech rep for Duncan Aviation providing troubleshooting and technical advice to business aviation operators on avionics installation services. He specializes in custom, integrated HSD solutions. He began working in aviation in 1996.

Tags: Avionics Installation, ADS-B, NextGen

Thirty Years Ago Robert Duncan Went to Buy Shoes...

Posted by Kate Dolan on Tue, Sep 08, 2015 @ 11:09 AM

In 2015, we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Duncan Aviation Avionics Satellite Network with locations at the busiest business airports across the United States. And to think it all started with a trip to the store to buy shoes. 

In the early 1980s, Karen and Robert Duncan were shopping for shoes in Hovland Swanson, a locally owned department store in Lincoln, Nebraska. The experience was a pleasant one, and Robert mentioned to the manager how impressed he had been with the salesman’s knowledge and efficiency. The manager then surprised Robert by telling him that Hovland Swanson knew what it didn’t know about shoes and had asked a national retailer to rent space in the shoe department and sell its shoes at Hovland Swanson.

The partnership worked; the national retailer had access to Hovland Swanson’s local customers, and the customers had access to well-made shoes sold locally by a national retailer.

The experience reminded Robert of Duncan Aviation’s busy avionics shop. The techs had the skill and expertise to fix anything, but there were a finite number of them, and they were located in Lincoln while potential customers with avionics problems were at airports in other cities around the country.

Artis rendering of the first aircraft avionics satellite shop circa 1985.

With the model of Hovland Swanson and the national shoe retailer in mind, Robert conceived of a similar business model for Duncan Aviation. He envisioned a series of partnerships with well-respected shops at busy airports around the country. There were several established shops that catered to our core aircraft but lacked an aircraft avionics presence.  

“At this point, I give credit for the whole program to Don Fiedler,” says Robert. “It was my concept, but it was Don Fiedler who ran with it.”

Robert harnessed Don’s energy to his vision and within two years, Duncan Aviation had opened its first satellite location at the William P. Hobby Airport in Houston, Texas. Hopkins International Airport in Cleveland, Ohio followed later that year, and in 1986, Duncan Aviation added two more satellite avionics shops.

“I looked for business partners who shared Duncan Aviation’s ideals of exemplary service and integrity,” says Don.

In the intervening 30 years, Duncan Aviation has added 21 more shops at airports near our customers in an effort to make avionics work on their aircraft or parts as easy and convenient as possible. We now have a network of 25 avionics satellite shops around the United States from Seattle to Fort Lauderdale and Bridgeport to Van Nuys.


Tags: Avionics Installation

Inflight Internet Operation Cybercrime: The Barbarians At The Gate

Posted by Adrian Chene on Thu, Sep 03, 2015 @ 10:26 AM

Inflight internet was the ubiquitous gift of the digital age. The engineers and equipment manufacturers in some cases were so focused on connectivity that security often had to take a backseat. The result was weakness in the system’s ability to withstand a cyber-attack.

Whether an aircraft owner is a private individual or a large corporation, it is clear that everyone needs to consider data security in their flight operations. Most airborne IT security concerns fall into three main areas: service provider security, physical security, and your individual software and hardware policies. While this initial discussion is a 50,000 foot view of airborne data security, the following articles in this series will delve deeper into the particulars.

Service providers are the gatekeepers of your traffic in many circumstances, whether you are using Inmarsat Satcom, 3G, or GoGo. They are responsible for making sure that the data sent and received is not intercepted in a manner that is usable by others for nefarious purposes. They are also responsible for defending their data centers against service interruptions by potential man-made or natural disasters. 

Physical IT security is also very important. Many intelligence operations involve theft or tampering with portable electronic devices. These can be laptops or cell phones. These sorts of attacks are more common than most would like to admit and often lead to individuals being personally compromised.

Your individual IT policies have a lot to do with how safe you are. Using a WEP Encrypted Wi-Fi connection on the ground at Teterboro could have disastrous results for your VIP, not to mention your Satcom bill. The myth often shared by people is that hacking or identity theft is something that happens to the “other person.” The sad reality is that there are always barbarians at our digital gates whether we choose to acknowledge them or not.

When I watched the movie “Hackers” in 1995, the notion of teenagers masterminding an attack on a corporate mainframe seemed pretty pie-in-the-sky. The reality though is that there have been numerous examples of children cracking into secure servers even at the DOD level.

We are all under attack. The goal is not make your aircraft an impenetrable IT fortress. The aim should be to make others an easier target and prevent the most crippling attacks.


Adrian Chene is an Avionics Tech Rep for Duncan Aviation. He provides troubleshooting and technical advice on avionics installation services, and specializes in custom, integrated HSD solutions. He began working in aviation in 1996.


Tags: Avionics Installation, Wi-Fi


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