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Dr. Gordon Jiroux began his distinguished career as a flight instructor in 1982, flying and teaching in one of the first Robinson R22s ever used for training purposes.
He progressed quickly, building a company that by 1990 was the largest flight school in the world using R22s, and solidifying a reputation for safe, high-quality flight training.
“Our internal processes and procedures have been carefully designed and continuously refined,” said Jiroux, who is now president and chief executive officer of Universal Flight Concepts, a parent company incorporating four of aviation’s most reliable brands.
“All current and future companies operating under the Universal Flight Concepts umbrella are operated with safety as the No. 1 priority,” he added.
” ‘Safety first’ dictates everything we do.”
Universal Flight Concepts is the parent company of Universal Helicopters, which offers advanced flight training on Robinson R22, R44, R66 and Bell 206 helicopters.
The flight school has locations in Scottsdale and Prescott, Arizona; Provo, Utah; and Waco and Dallas, Texas.
Also under the parent company’s umbrella are Night Flight Concepts, an elite recognized authority in night vision based in Waco, Texas; and Heliwagon, which manufactures the world’s only advanced, remote-controlled, wireless landing dolly, a device that makes moving a helicopter as easy as operating a garage door opener.
A new, fourth brand is also launching this winter at Heli-Expo: Universal Fixed-Wing, which will provide airplane flight training to the same exceptional standards as Universal Helicopters.
“Since three of the companies provide flight or aviation training, they all communicate and interact with each other for the best possible solutions,” said Jiroux.
“With many of the management staff having different aviation backgrounds, high quality, discriminating communications between the senior staff of each company is guaranteed.
“Although Heliwagon is not a training provider, with all of us being actual users of the Heliwagon product, we provide continual input with regards to making the units safer and more pilot-friendly.”
TRAINING THE BEST
All of the training companies under Universal Flight Concepts have the same mission: To be the best in the industry, providing safe, high-quality flight and ground training, delivered in state-of-the-art, well-maintained equipment.
Safety is paramount, which is why each of the training companies (along with Heliwagon) share several key values, including integrity, accountability, perseverance, dependability, discipline and hiring only the best employees.
Universal Helicopters only employs its own graduates as instructors, and all of its managers were hand-picked during their training, said Jiroux.
“They all showed qualities that only the best of the best exude. Our selection process has been proven 100 percent reliable.”
Indeed, there has been no turnover among senior staff or chief pilots in 18 years, said Jiroux. All managers have college or university degrees, and all have instrument ratings and flight instructor instrument certificates.
Four of Universal’s senior managers are also Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) designated pilot examiners.
“We do not make any decisions based on economics or convenience,” said Jiroux.
“These business mantras keep us focused on what is truly important. They continually remind us that the quality of our graduates and products must always come first.”
A NIGHT VISION LEADER
Night Flight Concepts (NFC) is widely known for its comprehensive suite of night vision goggle (NVG) solutions. Some of the most recognized names in helicopter manufacturing trust this company.
Created in 2006, NFC has served more than 300 customers around the world since its founding. It also provides comprehensive NVG instruction, with a range of computer-based, self-paced training and instructor-led courses for both initial and recurrent training.
NFC owns and operates an FAA-approved Part 145 NVG repair station, which has the authority to conduct and certify the airworthiness of NVG equipment.
The company also manufactures the Laser Armor line of products, which protects pilots from laser strikes during both daytime and nighttime operations.
“At Night Flight Concepts, we implement the highest-quality night vision equipment, maintenance and training procedures available,” said Adam Aldous, the company’s president. “Our goal is to enhance the safety and operational capabilities of all aviation organizations.”
Heliwagon is one of the most innovative products to hit the helicopter market in years–a wireless, remote-controlled landing dolly that crews can control from inside the cockpit.
It’s said to be the most-advanced mobile landing dolly in the world, eliminating the need for tugs and tows.
The Heliwagon is perfect for light to mid-sized, skid-equipped helicopters. It provides 360-degree “walkaround” capability and 100 percent positive control during aircraft movement on the ground.
“A lot of people tell me it is the coolest thing they have bought outside of their helicopter,” said Brad Seibold, president of Heliwagon. “Operators who see one for the first time usually have the same reaction: ‘I want one.'”
Along with the launch of Universal Fixed-Wing, Heli-Expo 2019 will be the site of several other high-profile announcements that will help plot the parent company’s future.
Details are being kept under wraps until the show, but they indicate a company that is continuing to expand while staying true to its mission.
As for Dr. Gordon Jiroux, an industry legend who built the parent company into a global success, he has a clear sense of where he’d like to be 10 years from now: “Exactly where we are today. In the training business, recognized as a leading training provider, with an unquestionable safety record.”