Maintaining the highest standard
Published: 24 Apr 2015
Dave Thompson has spent 21 years leading a 13-strong team of Dassault Falcon airframe mechanics at Duncan Aviation. His responsibilities involve scheduling, team building and ensuring quality levels are met.
What was your first aviation job?
My first aviation job was with Sabreliner in Perryville, Missouri, where I worked on the life extension project on the Sabreliner models. I performed mostly sheet metal repair, corrosion removal and completed service bulletins.
I then worked in Sauget, Illinois, for a smaller repair shop named Avtec. There, I was part of the structures installation crew for building cargo doors and performed associated modifications to hydraulic components, re-routing electrical wiring and emergency controls for landing gear and pressurisation/conditioning components on the Dassault Falcon 20.
That was excellent experience for improving and building skills that through the years have proven very useful in many areas of aviation maintenance.
In 1994, I started working at Duncan Aviation’s Lincoln, Nebraska, facility. I was hired on as a beginning airframe mechanic and worked up to a lead mechanic position. I am now the team leader of one of our four Falcon teams in Lincoln.
What services does Duncan Aviation offer?
It provides nose-to-tail support services for the most popular business jets in use today. These services include airframe and engine maintenance, avionics modifications, paint and interior completions, avionics, instrument and accessory repair and overhauls, parts support and aircraft sales and acquisitions.
Duncan Aviation currently has more than 2,000 team members located around the world and supporting customers from more than 30 full-service and specialised service locations.
What are your regular duties?
There are 13 airframe mechanics who are part of my team and they have anywhere between six months to 15 years of experience. My regular duties include the scheduling of aircraft for inspections and service, team building, organisation and direction of personnel on multiple in-house projects, customer support, performing basic maintenance and inspections, troubleshooting, performing engine and airframe ground runs and assisting with required test flights.
What can be challenging?
The most difficult part of my job is supporting each team member and ensuring that they have the resources, including parts, materials and staff, each day to be successful in their work. We juggle work on several projects concurrently and it is typical that we have at least three aircraft under our care at any given time.
One interesting thing that I get involved in is the continual improvement of my team as well as the entire airframe department at Duncan Aviation. We strive to continually improve
our methods of maintenance and our work efficiency in all areas.
I work with other departments to develop techniques to assist our teams in communication and collaboration so we can deliver projects in faster turntimes than our competitors provide. And we work to improve our methods in maintenance documentation so we can keep the tools in the mechanic’s hands instead of having them spend valuable time typing and writing.
What’s are your favourite and least favourite parts?
I really enjoy what I do as the variety is endless. Duncan Aviation provides me with the opportunity to work side-by-side with great people on a variety of expensive, sophisticated aircraft. I consider it a privilege to do what I do and I take my work very seriously. I wouldn’t say I dislike any part of my job, but the task that I struggle the most with is ensuring that our teams work as efficiently as possible so we can deliver affordable and high quality maintenance for our customers.