Yong Zhang, General Manager for CAIGA’s sales, marketing and customer service department (left) and Jim Stoker, president and managing executive of GE Aviation Czech (right).
Oshkosh, Wisconsin – EAA AirVenture 2013 in Oshkosh was a huge success for GE’s Business & General Aviation (BGA). This year’s airshow in Wisconsin was attended by more than 500,000 people, making it the single biggest civilian airshow in the United States. As always, BGA had a tent to display our H80 turboprop engine. Thrush Aircraft shared the tent and displayed the Thrush 510G powered by the H80. In addition to this aircraft on display, Thrush brought a second 510G that flew several times in the airshow to proudly demonstrate the capabilities of the aircraft and the H80 engine.
A great achievement and celebration was also witnessed by those who visited the tent on July 30th: a signing ceremony with China Aviation Industry General Aircraft (CAIGA) based in Zhuhai, China. At this ceremony, CAIGA and GE officially agreed that the AVIC-owned CAIGA would become the first GE Authorized Service Center in China to support the entry into service of the GE H80, H75 and H85 powered agricultural aircraft in the region. This signing with CAIGA was followed by a reception and a celebratory dinner.
Other points of interest at Oshkosh included the 3D printer that showcased the technology GE uses in prototyping and additive manufacturing. On the entertainment side, the movie Planes premiered at the show and Eddie Van Halen played an evening concert in front of a large audience of airshow attendees.
Overall, Oshkosh was another great event for the BGA division of GE, where we continue improving our relationships with airframers and customers and expanding our service network even farther across the globe.
Czech Republic Customer Advisory Board Meeting
Prague, Czech Republic - The June 25th Customer Advisory Board (CAB) meeting at the GE Aviation Czech (GEAC) facility in Prague was attended by 18 representatives from 10 different GE customers from the Czech and Slovak Republics. The conference provided customers with a look at GE’s increasing presence in the turboprop market, the future developments of the H-series and a “report out” on improvements made in service and reliability by customer and product support leader Tomas Benes and sales manager Alexis Vincent.
“The customers appreciated GEAC organizing this event for the first time in the Czech Republic. We’ve been hosting CABs for two years now in locations such as New Zealand, USA, Brazil and even Russia. After a short presentation on what is planned for 2013 and early 2014, we highlighted the key achievements of this year, such as the simplified Warranty Process, the shortened overhaul turnaround time and the efforts to improve on-time delivery of spare parts. We have agreed to organize a local CAB meeting once a year, which is more often than in other regions around the world, because one of our key airframer customers, Aircraft Industries, also contributed to the Czech CAB. We have found the CAB to be a very productive forum for discussing what we aim to do and getting feedback on our actions directly from our customers and partners to see if it will truly lead to their satisfaction,” said Tomas Benes.
Meeting attendees were positive about GE’s openness with operators, future product development and GE’s long-term commitment to service the M601 fleet. The presentation was followed by a question-and-answer session that spawned GE’s commitments for topics to cover at next year’s CAB.
“The success of the Customer Advisory Board in the Czech Republic, we believe, lies in direct openness and accountability – what we promise, deliver, or explain when there is a delay, and what the plan is to tackle it,” said Milan Slapak, commercial director at GEAC. “Having seen its success, we aim to host similar CABs throughout other regions in the world. We are already planning the next session for South America in Colombia.”
Rooted in Aviation: David Songer
David Songer, of Swing Wing Aviation, grew up in a family of farmers and bankers. His father was an Ag pilot who primarily used helicopters for spraying.
Dave’s passions have always been farming and flying, so it came as no surprise when he took on the aviation portion of the family business in 2008 and decided to expand the operation. This required Dave to get two things: a pilot’s license and an aircraft, but not necessarily in that order! Dave bought his first aircraft, a Thrush, in 2008 and earned his pilot’s license in 2009.
Dave’s business is rooted in Indiana, where the Ag industry has been strong over the last several years. Anticipating a growing demand, Dave elected to expand his Thrush fleet. He became the proud owner of a brand new GE H80-powered Thrush 510G, after flying his new aircraft from the recent Thrush certification celebration in Albany, Georgia, to his home in Indiana. Dave’s decision to purchase a GE-powered aircraft was based not only on the increased all-around performance of the H80, but also on his trust in the GE brand and reputation. As a new entrant in the Ag market, Dave trusted that GE would stand behind the engine and provide the world-class support he wanted.
Dave needed a reliable and efficient aircraft to power him through the fairly short, but very intense, Ag season. Flying typically begins in May, but the core season is July through August for fungicides, with additional flying in September and October for top-cover aerial seeding. During that time the goal is to be “wheels-up” by 6:30 a.m. and fly until dusk at about 9:30 p.m., averaging about 10 hours of low-altitude, high-concentration flying per day and more than 300 hours in a typical season. There are few breaks – lunch is typically in the cockpit in the five to seven minutes it takes to reload. The flight cycle generally includes about one take-off per hour, then spraying at 150 mph (in the faster GE-powered Thrush), at ultra-low altitudes of approximately 15 feet. The only weather limitations are excessive winds and, of course, pop-up thunderstorms. Dave’s wife also supports the business by mapping drop-zones and preparing logistics for the remote locations. Fuel and payload have to be immediately available after each landing at the various grass strips around Indiana.
A perfect fit
Though the days are often long and intense, Dave feels he has achieved the perfect vocation. Running his own crop-dusting company allows Dave to combine his dream of being his own boss with his passion for flying and farming. Dave brings his expertise and passion to his service on the NAAA board. Naturally, he plans to be at the NAAA annual convention in Reno in December. Meet Dave and the GE team there!
The Congress National Agricultural Aviation (SINDAG) conference in Cuiaba, Brazil, was an excellent opportunity for GE to showcase our service and support network for H80 and M601 operators in South America and across the globe. The conference was used to highlight the three-tiered service and support network that includes Authorized Service Centers at the local level, Designated Repair Centers at a regional level and a global support network to assist operators with any other major issues from the original engine manufacturers themselves.
In addition to five TAM ASC locations in Brazil and Solo Aviation in Venezuela, GE plans to expand our local support network in South America by signing Air Andes as a new ASC in Argentina to support recent 510G deliveries. On a larger, regional scale, Premier Turbines, in cooperation with Air Turbine, has been established as the South American hub for the Designated Repair Center.
GE also had two weeks of onsite Entry into Service (EIS) engine training at the Thrush facility in Annapolis, Brazil, in August. Thrush and GE worked closely during the conference and answered questions at the Thrush booth about the launch of the aircraft and the EIS. EIS training is essential as there are expected to be eight H80-powered Thrush aircraft flying in Brazil by December, with the possibility of an additional five Thrush aircraft being sold at the beginning of the flying season.
For information on trainings in any other region, visit the GE Turboprop Customer Community!
Thrush Aircraft has a new foothold in the most populous country in the world. The Albany, Georgia–based aircraft manufacturer has reached a deal with the Beidahuang General Aviation Company from Harbin, China, to sell 20 GE H80-powered Thrush 510G aircraft. This delivery of 20 aircraft represents the largest single order in the history of Thrush Aircraft.
“The airplanes destined for Jiamusi represent a tremendous milestone for everyone here at Thrush as well as a meaningful validation of the increasing levels of cooperation and trade between our nation and China,” said Payne Hughes, president of Thrush Aircraft. “Our customers in China did an almost unbelievable amount of research, comparisons and evaluations prior to purchase,” he continued, “and I’m darn proud they selected us for such an important order.”
In order to transport the aircraft, the first three planes to be delivered were flown on a 7,000-mile ferry flight from Georgia to Harbin, China. The remaining 17 aircraft will be containerized and delivered by ocean freighters. This delivery also coincides with the GE agreement with CAIGA to open an Authorized Service Center in China – read all about it in the Oshkosh article. GE has also made a commitment to assisting in engines’ entry into service to help the customers at Beidahuang learn more about their H80-powered Thrush aircraft.
Product Support Team Spotlight:
We would like to introduce our new product support team leader at GE Aviation BGA Turboprops, David Auer. Working out of Prague in the Czech Republic, David is tasked with leading the turboprop product support representatives, who convey the reliability data from the field and monitor warranty trends, as well as coordinating the field service engineers, who constitute the turboprops’ on-wing support.
Born in the Slovak Republic, David moved to Canada after high school and returned to Prague three years later to work for Honeywell Aerospace. While at Honeywell, he held various positions of increasing responsibility in customer and product support. After working at Honeywell for five years, he accepted his current position at GE in the beginning of May 2013.
Coming from a background mainly in business jets, David is looking forward to the challenge of working with agricultural and commuter turboprop aircraft. In his free time, he enjoys traveling (he has been to almost every country in Europe), snowboarding and cycling.
Contact David at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions.
AAAA: Aerial Agricultural Association of Australia
GE and visitors to our booth enjoyed a great time at the biannual Aerial Agricultural Association of Australia (AAAA) Conference held June 2–5. Thrush and GE’s regional turboprop service partner, TAE Aviation, were both present at the convention that included many of the top turboprop airframers and many members of the support network for these aircraft.
TAE Aviation, GE’s Designated Repair Center and GE BGA Turboprops shared a common booth. There, a series of interesting programs covered topics ranging from GE’s turboprop vision for the region, TAE’s expanding scope of work and the shared schedule to ramp-up heavy maintenance capabilities. And the after-convention party tent became a popular place to stop by for the Ag community!
While an actual engine was not on display at the conference, the committee was so impressed with the mockup of the H80 that it took the prize for best in show for the Conference. Tomas Benes, GE customer and product support leader, noted how many people in the agricultural community were impressed with “the engine’s lack of hot section inspections, low to zero maintenance requirements and its ability to have full performance even at 40 degrees Celsius.”
Once again, GE proved our leadership in the field of engine design and manufacturing and positioned ourselves in the market for years to come.
Service Team Spotlight:
Have you met Ed Gaffray? Ed and the team at Winnipeg River Aircraft have the responsibility of being the only GE Authorized Service Center in Canada. Based in Pine Falls, Manitoba, Ed, along with four engineers and two apprentices on staff, is tasked with servicing a fleet that mainly consists of GE M601-powered agricultural aircraft.
While Ed is committed to servicing GE-powered aircraft, he also runs an operating business called Blue Water Aviation with three M601-powered Otter aircraft. He uses these aircraft primarily for tourism purposes, moving people and supplies to lodges and hotels.
Due to the operating location of many aircraft that Ed helps service, spare parts and supplies are often difficult to obtain. “We are here to help support Canada with parts and supplies as needed and requested,” Ed said. “We try to keep an ample inventory of parts and consumables for the engine. That has always been a concern.” As the only Authorized Service Center in remote regions, this need to keep the customers supplied is one of the primary challenges for Ed and his team.
In addition to servicing M601s, the first H80 engine has been delivered to Canada but is now waiting clearance from Transport Canada, the local CAA, before it can be installed onto an Otter aircraft. Installation of the engine is expected to happen later this year. An H80-powered Otter aircraft is already operating in Alaska under the ownership of Yakutat Coastal Aircraft, so keep your eyes open if you are in the region!
To learn more about our training offerings, visit our Customer Service Training