We get behind the controls of a Magni M16 gyroplane, chat with NASA engineers about the Mars Helicopter, look at Helinet’s firefighting Black Hawk & reflect on the legacy left by Universal Helicopters.
In 1988, Bruce Anning, armed with half-century-old methodologies taught to him by his mentor, Keith Harvey (founder of Composite Technologies Inc.), started his own company, Advanced Composite Structures (ACS). Using that vital knowledge, the ACS group of companies has become world-renowned in rotor blade repair.
“It really warms my heart to know that after over three decades of doing this, we are still staying true to those proven concepts,” said Anning.
The process he followed has rewarded ACS with several exciting developments over the years. Now, with four locations across the globe–Canada, Florida, California and New Zealand–ACS is well-positioned to handle the growth it has been experiencing.
Recently, the company received certification to perform repairs on the main and tail rotor blades for the Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk; a project Anning said was ripe with welcome challenges.
“Certification to perform these repairs is probably the hottest ticket to be had right now, and everybody in the industry has opened their arms to this accreditation. It’s going to take quite a bit to support it.”
The project presents a clash of military and civilian aviation worlds, something to which ACS is no stranger.
“You know,” said Anning, “it’s one of these natural progressions that we have done such great work in the civil aviation market, it only makes sense that these other military bodies start looking at their options for support. So, we kind of walked into that opportunity.”
The company’s work with the military has led it to also begin work on blades for both Sikorsky SH-60 Seahawks and SH-3 Sea Kings.
According to Anning, the military bodies ACS does work for were “looking for that support they’ve never had. When they end up in the ACS world, it boils down to not only our repair capabilities and what innovations we bring to the table, but it’s the deliverables . . . the turn times.”
ACS’s streamlined process is the result of its team’s expertise. “We’re very innovative,” said Anning. “We continually look at fixing problems and not symptoms. So, we get to the root cause and we fix those. We’ve got [the] freedom to move, to look at repair designs and how they apply to the task at hand.”
What’s the next step for ACS?
“We’ve submitted our DAO [Design Approval Organization] application to Transport Canada, and we’re anxiously awaiting to receive that accreditation [very soon].”
According to Anning, the accreditation will “allow us to look at the elements of the rotor blade and take on the responsibility and accountability for repair designs with regards to actually being a design authority.”
This development would complement the company’s most recent achievement–a complete plant modernization for its California facility. “It’s been a long time coming,” said Anning.
But it won’t stop there. ACS is planning the same improvements for its Florida location and hopes to have the doors open on that project by the end of 2020.