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NATA Announces Industry Excellence Awards Recipients

NATA Announces Industry Excellence Awards Recipients

Washington, DC, April 21, 2016 – Today, the National Air Transportation Association (NATA) announced the recipients of its Industry Excellence Awards given annually to individuals, offices, and organizations that have helped improve the general aviation community:

The ATP/NATA General Aviation Service Technician Award (sponsored by Aircraft Technical Publishers) acknowledges the exceptional performance of a licensed airframe and powerplant mechanic or radio repairman who has practiced his or her craft for a period of 20 or more years. NATA will present this year’s award to Mr. Mark E. Jensen, Director of Maintenance and Managing Partner at Bakersfield Jet Center by Loyd's Aviation, for his 47 years of providing the highest quality of general aviation maintenance service. Trusted by his customers and a mentor to new hires — Jensen is known for finding simple solutions to complicated problems.

Mr. Mark R. Davidson, A.A.E., Airport Director at Smith Reynolds Airport, Winston-Salem, NC is the recipient of the NATA Airport Executive Partnership Award. This award recognizes an airport manager for his or her efforts to foster relationships between aviation businesses and airport operators. Mr. Davidson’s leadership promotes true “partnership” with airport tenants and businesses. He strives to understand and improve the day-to-day operations of the FBOs, MROs and other aviation businesses at Smith Reynolds. His advancement of relations between the airport’s businesses and the Airport Commission of Forsyth County returned Smith Reynolds Airport to profitability — in turn, making the facility a key contributor to the Winston-Salem aviation industry and local community.

The recipient of NATA’s Excellence In Pilot Training Award is Ben Gabriel, Director of Training at ATP Flight School. This award recognizes an individual or organization for outstanding contributions in safety, professionalism, leadership and excellence in the field of pilot training. Mr. Gabriel currently leads a training department with over 260 aircraft and a staff of 230 flight instructors. In 2015 alone, Gabriel oversaw 160,000 accident-free hours of flight training and the issuance of more than 4,400 pilot certificates and ratings. He also manages the very program that began his career in 1999, the ATP Airline Career Pilot Program, and is responsible for over 550 students enrolled in program. Mr. Gabriel is dedicated to ensuring ATP Flight School provides a safe, efficient and effective training program.

NATA's FAA Service Excellence Award goes to the Phoenix TRACON as an FAA facility that demonstrates the highest degree of professionalism to aviation businesses. In 2015, the Phoenix TRACON successfully managed flights during Super Bowl 49™, an event that featured increased traffic to the Phoenix metro area in a period also challenged by unusual weather. Recognizing the need to implement an air traffic management system during the busy weekend, the facility combined efforts with local industry stakeholders and customers to streamline the influx of 1,200 additional aircraft in the area — executing arrivals and departures without any delays.

Mr. Ratu Tuuhetoka, Lead Operations Specialist at Alliance Aviation Services, will receive the second annual Safety 1st Certified Line Service Professional Award. This award recognizes the achievements of certified line service professionals demonstrating their positive impact on safety, service and business success. Mr. Tuuhetoka is highly involved with all areas of training at Alliance Aviation Services, including aircraft towing, marshalling, fueling and inclement weather. He leads by example through his understanding and demonstration of the importance of safety and customer service. He is well-respected by his line service team, management and customers — often taking the initiative to mentor new hires and cross-train customer service representatives.

"So many talented and dedicated individuals and teams have contributed to the success of NATA and the industry over the 75-year history of the association. This year’s honorees exemplify the wide range of aviation business professionals worthy of recognition and celebration in our Anniversary year," stated NATA President and CEO Thomas L. Hendricks.

The week of April 25th, NATA will announce the recipients of the William A. “Bill” Ong Memorial Award and Distinguished Service Award. All awards will be presented during a luncheon on June 9th at the Hyatt Regency Washington on Capitol Hill. The association will hold the luncheon in conjunction with its Aviation Business Conference.

Contact Karissa Uko at kuko@nata.aero or Kim Blankenship at kblankenship@nata.aero for more information on NATA's Industry Excellence Awards Presentation Luncheon and to secure tickets.


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NATA, the voice of aviation business for 75 years, is the public policy group representing the interests of aviation businesses before Congress and the federal agencies.

For more information about NATA, please visit www.nata.aero, www.twitter.com/nataaero or www.facebook.com/nataaero.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the Winston-Salem Journal - November 6, 2014

North State Aviation Marks 4th Anniversary

Richard Craver/Winston-Salem Journal

BIZ WSJ_1107_NSAviation

North State Aviation LLC celebrated its fourth anniversary Thursday, opening the event by showing the TV clip from the end of the U.S. hockey team’s semifinal victory over the Soviet Union.

The win came during the 1980 Olympics at the height of the Cold War. It’s the one in which announcer Al Michaels gave his famous call of “Do you believe in miracles? … Yes!”

Charlie Creech, the company’s president, told his workforce of 383 and other members of the audience, which included civic and elected, why he chose the clip.

“That (U.S. hockey) team certainly was underdogs,” Creech said. “They had a tremendous support group with clear direction. They had a commitment to each other to make things happen.”

Creech said the moral of the story – to him – is that “they wanted to finish.”

“I like to believe we have many of the same qualities here. I can guarantee you one thing. We have an owner and a head coach (Al Bodford) that is second to none.

“He gave us a cause, he clearly defined where we needed to be. He nurtured us through tough times and when it was time for us to step on the ice, he stepped out of the way. He taught us that we have to consistently finish.”

The top executives at North State Aviation LLC have strived to embrace their maintenance heritage, particularly Piedmont Airlines, while distancing themselves from the now-defunct Pace Airlines, whose production space they occupy at Smith Reynolds Airport.

The main element of the North State celebration was reaching the 400 threshold in aircraft renovation projects, including more than 300 with its main customer, United Airlines. The main project to date has been installing a satellite-based system on 160 of United's Boeing 737-700, 800 and 900 series aircraft.

Gaining United’s confidence was pivotal to North State’s existence.

Pace had a similar maintenance contract with Continental Airlines until shortly before collapsing in September 2009, costing 423 employees their jobs, including about 300 locally.

Creech and Russell Kota, North State’s vice president of maintenance, were members of Pace’s management team when it was owned by the estate of Bob Brooks, chairman of Hooters of America Inc.

They were replaced when William Rodgers Sr. bought the company from the Brooks estate in May 2009.

North State didn’t directly emerge like a phoenix from Pace’s ashes. But the Pace experience left airport and civic officials leery of putting faith that soon into another maintenance company.

Creech joked that in the first conversation he had with Smith Reynolds officials, including executive director Mark Davidson, they asked if North State intended to pay or not pay their rent.

“When we said ‘pay rent,’ things moved forward,” Creech said.

The company pledged in January 2011 it would have at least 308 employees within four years when it was made eligible for $300,000 in performance-based state incentives. It had 28 employees at that time and occupied 80,000 square feet on a monthly basis.

As North State demonstrated its ability to provide quality renovation work to United, the airline expanded its contract to where it represents six production lines.

“They have earned those lines through providing quality work at an effective cost,” said Manny Naeem, United’s vice president for technical planning, supply chain and outsourcing maintenance.

Creech said North State’s workforce consists of 365 full and 18 part-time employees, of which more than 100 are military veterans. He said 25 of the 28 employees at startup remain with the company.

“We went from a payroll of $91,000 to $14 million now,” Creech said. “We occupy more than 300,000 square feet and pay more than $1.4 million in annual rent and utilities. We’re among the top-50 employers in Forsyth.”

U.S. Rep. Virginia Foxx, R-N.C., praised North State as an example of a company recognizing an opportunity and seizing it through hard work, innovation and seeking assistance in terms of skill training for good-paying jobs.

Davidson said the airport’s master plan is to add another hanger, in part to give North State more expansion space. He said North State’s success has contributed to the airport commission being able to afford the on-going construction of Runway 4-22.

“The commission now has the local match required for the $2.6 million dollar project,” Davidson said.

“Four years ago, the commission could not have not made the financial commitment to the state Transportation Department and Federal Aviation Administration due to the unforeseen future and lack of cash on hand.

“Now, we are competing for FAA discretionary funds for other infrastructure projects, which will have a positive impact on all our tenants and users.”

 

 

From the Winston-Salem Journal - March 14, 2013

Smith Reynolds makes appeal to keep tower

Fran Daniel/Winston-Salem Journal

Potentially dangerous traffic with two runways, military and emergency relief, millions in infrastructure investments and designation as a national asset were among the reasons cited by officials in their appeal to keep Smith Reynolds Airport’s tower open.

Officials made Wednesday’s deadline to appeal the Federal Aviation Administration’s decision to close the air traffic control tower because of budget cuts from the federal sequester.

“It’s important to us that we do everything we can to make sure that the tower remains in operation at Smith Reynolds, and that’s what we’re going to do,” said Thomas McKim, the chairman of the Airport Commission of Forsyth County.

The airport commission made its case for the tower to remain open in a seven-page letter signed by McKim and Airport Director Mark Davidson to the FAA.

Airport officials focused on a designation by the FAA last May that listed Smith Reynolds as one of the top general aviation airports in the country in a report titled “General Aviation Airports: A National Asset.”

Airport officials said the closing of the Smith Reynolds tower will negatively affect “the national interest in that it will impair the airport’s ability to serve its role as a national airport.”

They gave several other reasons that the airport should have a tower, including potentially challenging and dangerous traffic operations because of two runways. They cited military and emergency relief activity at the airport, and substantial investment by the FAA, including millions of dollars for a runway safety area project.

The FAA plans to close more than 170 contract towers throughout the country as part of its plans to reduce costs by about $600 million for the remainder of 2013. The airport towers are scheduled to close April 7. The agency will finalize its closings list by Monday.

Smith Reynolds’ tower is operated by five contract employees who would lose their jobs if it closes.

McKim said there should be proportionate reductions across the board in all programs for agencies that are being asked to reduce expenditures as part of the sequester process.

“What the FAA is doing is they are concentrating 75 percent of their reduction in just this contract tower program,” he said. “It seems that rather than squeezing a little bit of savings incrementally out of a lot of different places, they are taking a meat cleaver to a very important program that provides service to a lot of people at a lot of airports all over the country, with Smith Reynolds being one of them.”

Late Wednesday, a bipartisan group of senators introduced an amendment to the Senate Continuing Resolution aimed at protecting the contract tower program.

“I am strongly opposed to the FAA’s plan to target air traffic control towers across the country, including the towers included in the Contract Tower Program,” said Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan, a sponsor of the amendment.

The Airport Commission of Forsyth County’s appeal has 14 letters of support, including statements from Mayor Allen Joines, the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners, the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce, the Piedmont Triad Partnership, Piedmont Flight Training, Rockingham County Airport Authority, pilots and the manager of the tower at Smith Reynolds.

“Closing the tower at Smith Reynolds could jeopardize aviation safety and efficiency and will definitely have a negative economic impact because of its effect on our two large growing aircraft maintenance companies in Winston-Salem,” Joines said in his letter.

Copy of the appeal letter and supporting documents:

Appeal of the Proposed Smith Reynolds Airport Contract Tower Closure

Appendix A INT Letters in Support

Appendix B General Aviation Airports A National Asset 2012

Appendix C Economic Contribution of NC Airports 2012

Appendix D OIG Audit Report FAA Federal Contract Tower Program 2012

 

From the Winston-Salem Journal - September 20, 2012

NS Aviation gets maintenance contract with United Airlines

CHARLIE CREECH

The landing of a multiyear maintenance contract with United Airlines is giving new air to NS Aviation LLC's ambitious growth plans.

NS Aviation said Thursday that it expects to add at least 40 full-time employees by year's end to work on the United business, bolstering its workforce at Smith Reynolds Airport to about 150.

NS Aviation does business as North State Aviation. It operates on a monthly lease for 80,000 square feet, including 50,000 in hangar space, at 4001 N. Liberty St.

The company is already providing two lines of maintenance and retrofit work on United's Boeing 737-900 fleet, with each line having about 45 to 50 dedicated employees. The new contract could eventually double the number of lines NS Aviation dedicates to United maintenance and retrofitting work.

The company said it will need additional hangar and mechanic shop space to handle the expanded contract, offering a revenue boost to the airport.

NS Aviation had 31 employees when it announced in January 2011, with Gov. Bev Perdue's assistance, that it would have 308 employees within four years as part of the expansion.

The company pledged the jobs will pay an average wage of $42,072 — $80 more than the average in Forsyth County. It would spend nearly $1.3 million on capital investments.

In return, the state made the company eligible for a $300,000 grant from the One North Carolina Fund. It will also benefit from a $500,000 grant from the Golden Leaf Foundation to the Airport Commission of Forsyth County for airport infrastructure improvements.

When NS Aviation made its expansion announcement, management acknowledged that gaining confidence in their business operations and finances will be crucial to attracting customers, employees and community support.

Since then, NS Aviation has kept a low profile while picking up business from about a dozen companies that include Miami Air and Arik Air.

"Our growth has been sparked by the significant increase we've experienced in our customer base," said Charlie Creech, president of North State.

He said the United contract "now ensures our facility will have a high volume of work for the upcoming years."

Tom Chappell, NS Aviation's vice president of business development, said the United contract is the result of "several months of cultivating relationships."

"We feel that our efforts have yielded the potential for ongoing success for us and many others in the aviation community."

Mark Davidson, director of Smith Reynolds Airport, said he is "elated" that NS Aviation was able to land a major contract. He said the airport commission is negotiating with NS Aviation for a longer-term lease in part because of the United contract.

"They had developed a niche providing maintenance on large aircraft for charter airlines to stay operational," he said.

"With this contract, they will have a regular stream of business and revenue."

Gayle Anderson, chief executive and president of the Winston-Salem Chamber of Commerce, said she recognized it would take time for NS Aviation to expand once it laid the groundwork for its operations.

"It's good news for the community that its work is paying off," Anderson said.

rcraver@wsjournal.com (336) 727-7376

 

Triad Today - Smith Reynolds Airport (Original Broadcast August 4, 2012)