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For more than 20 years Aviation Specialties Unlimited, Inc. (ASU) has worked with both helicopter and fixed-wing operators on cockpit modifications around the world. With changing technology, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements and mandates, ASU announced on March 5 it has hired Darren Knight as its new parts manufacturer approval (PMA) manager and appointed Austin Barrett as the engineering change order (ECO) program manager.
Barrett and Knight will help customers navigate through compliance concerns with overseeing ECO requirements and PMA needs.
ASU recognizes that compliance is an ongoing challenge for operators with Night Vision Imaging System (NVIS)-modified aircraft. Equipment relocation; adding new previously approved equipment, wiring or electrical changes; and updates to lighting system or depiction of aircraft must be documented through the ECO process to maintain conformity. Operators must also use only approved PMA parts.
“Part of providing good customer service is understanding when an ECO is needed, when a PMA part can be added, and assuring all paperwork is compliant,” said Barrett. “We understand that out-of-service aircraft are not an option for most operators, which is why we have completely restructured the ECO process to get these projects done promptly.”
For years ASU has been known for goggle sales, training and modifications, but over the last several years the company has placed a growing emphasis on fleet sustainment by enhancing its onsite manufacturing operations and adding staff to maintain quality control.
“ASU has worked with Knight in various capacities before he joined our team,” said Kip McDermott, ASU vice president of engineering. “We know his level of expertise and the types of skills he will bring our customers. He is a great addition to our team.”
Barrett joined ASU four years ago as an NVIS technician installing NVIS lighting in aircraft at customer locations around the world; then he joined the ASU drafting department where he established technical drawings for NVIS modifications. He transitioned to the new position of ECO project manager in early 2017 to meet the growing need for ECOs. Barrett facilitated more than 240 ECOs in 2017.
When a customer is considering updating, upgrading or adding new equipment to their NVIS-modified aircraft, ASU can provide options that are already approved for their aircraft and assist them as they navigate the decision-making process and guide them through the ECO process. This collaboration can prevent the need for a master drawing list (MDL) update and will save operators time and money.
“Time is not a luxury that many of our customers have. We have designed our engineering, manufacturing and supply chain management systems to make sure our installers and customers get the best quality parts when they need them,” said McDermott.