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In 2016, when Duncan Aviation exhibited at Heli-Expo for the first time, a long-time fixed-wing customer stopped by the booth and admitted his surprise.
Although Duncan Aviation had been serving the helicopter industry with component services since the mid-1980s, it was better known as the world’s largest privately owned business-jet support facility.
“We had been servicing his business jets for years,” recalled Kevin Miesbach, manager of components and OEM business development at Duncan Aviation. “He was very pleased to learn we were also able to support his helicopter fleet with avionics, instruments and accessories services.”
Since that first appearance at Heli-Expo three years ago, Duncan Aviation has experienced more than 80 percent growth in its helicopter business. It is now recognized as a reliable resource for rotary-wing component maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services.
“It doesn’t matter what type of aircraft we’re supporting,” said Miesbach, who has been with the family-owned company for 37 years. “If it’s avionics, instruments, accessories or even piece parts, we try to support the aviation industry in general.”
By listening to its customers and responding to their specific requests at shows like Heli-Expo, the company has been able to drive remarkable growth on the helicopter side.
To support that, Duncan Aviation has significantly expanded its rotary-wing inventory. Avidyne traffic indicators and legacy General Electric gyroscopes are now among its rotary-wing offerings. So, too, are Technisonic FM radios and Northern Airborne Technology equipment for special-mission helicopters.
The company can also now modify Collins Aerospace TDR-94 transponders to ensure they comply with ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance-Broadcast) standards.
Other new rotary-wing inventory items include starter-generators, fuel pumps, converters, weather radar equipment, hydraulic pumps, hydraulic actuators and emergency power supplies.
“We continue to expand on that inventory upon request,” said Miesbach.
Chris Gress, manager of parts & rotables sales and business development, then talked about the other advantages Duncan Aviation provides: “One of our biggest strengths is being able to offer our customers options specific to their situations. We have customers who come to us from all corners of the globe.
“With 10 international sign-off certifications, including CAAC [Civil Aviation Administration of China] for Chinese registered aircraft, we can have parts and components serviced or exchanged immediately and without hassle.” Many other companies cannot offer this service.
Duncan Aviation is also one of only four service centers in the United States for BendixKing products, which are prevalent in Sikorsky and Bell helicopters.
Duncan Aviation traces its history back to 1956 when Donald Duncan became a Beechcraft distributor. Today, the company has three major MRO facilities–in Battle Creek, Michigan; Lincoln, Nebraska; and Provo, Utah–plus a network of avionics satellite and engine rapid response locations across the U.S.
As the fourth generation of the Duncan family joins the company, it continues to operate with a personal, small-town feel. However, its reach is broad and diverse, and its service is world-class.
The days of Duncan Aviation’s helicopter repairs flying under the radar are likely over as its rotary-wing business continues to grow in size and profile.
“We know this equipment inside and out,” said Gress, who’s been with Duncan Aviation for 35 years. “Customers are recognizing our experience and telling us they are getting the best repairs in the market.”