- 24 Oct 2023
- Ken Elliott
- Avionics - BizAv
Birthed from a conversation in a shoe-shop, Duncan Aviation’s Satellite network brings avionics expertise nearer to its customers and alleviates pressures on upgrade bottlenecks. Rebecca Applegarth learns more from Bruno Mazzani...Back to Articles
The inspiration for Duncan Aviation’s Satellite shops came from an unlikely source. Out shoe-shopping in the early 1980s at the Hovland-Swanson store in Lincoln, Nebraska with his wife Karen, Robert Duncan got talking to the manager and learned that they were not really standing in a Hovland-Swanson department at all.
“We just rent spaces in department stores,” the manager told him. “We’re a separate company just buying and selling shoes.”
The seed of an idea was sown that day which would have a wide-reaching impact on the Business Aviation industry, even four decades later.
Robert began to consider how the concept that freed Hovland-Swanson from dealing with shoe inventory, attracted customers who were there to buy other items, and gave the store some rent might relate to Duncan Aviation’s business model. The answer would lie in a Satellite network launched by Duncan Aviation a few years later.
By 1984, Duncan Aviation had honed its avionics skills, building a reputation that drew customers to Lincoln for avionics work even if it was out of their way. Robert hatched a plan that saw Duncan Aviation start to rent shop space at high-traffic FBO locations where it could offer avionics line maintenance to its customers, closer to where they were located.
The Satellite network was born and continued to grow spreading throughout the US. Today it encompasses 29 facilities, and since the early 2000s has added avionics installation work to its offerings, proving hugely beneficial in the lead-up to the RVSM mandate in 2003 and ADS-B in 2020, according to Bruno Mazzani, Business Development Coordinator, Satellites for Duncan Aviation.
During the first stage of the RVSM mandate, for example, the Satellites supported the main Duncan Aviation facilities by performing the required altimetry equipment replacement and updates to comply with the different service bulletins that were being released by the OEMs. The Satellite network was able to perform these upgrades on all Tier I and II aircraft.
“Currently, the Satellite facilities are performing 24-month RVSM inspections, re-certification of pitot static systems, primary altitude system and standby altimeter, transponders, air data system functional check, probe alignments, skin-mapping, and also RVSM failure troubleshooting,” Mazzani highlights.
Duncan Aviation’s Satellite Avionics Shops and work away stations were also equipped to install all equipment necessary to comply with the FAA’s ADS-B mandate, including replacement or modification of the transponders and transponder controls to ADS-B capability; replacement, addition, or modification to the GPS/FMS systems; the physical interface between the transponders, GPS source, controls, and cockpit failure indications; and the certification path for the installation.
“Duncan Aviation is currently offering support to Canadian operators that have until late this year to comply with the Nav Canada ADS-B Out mandate,” Mazzani notes.
“Today, all kinds of avionics maintenance and installations can be performed at the Satellite shops,” he adds. “The support that the teams at the Satellites and the main facilities provide to each other are some of the attributes that make the Satellite network a more convenient resource for owners and operators to get their aircraft’s avionics serviced, troubleshot, and upgraded.”
In yet another example of how Duncan Aviation’s Satellite network is instrumental in enabling the company to help alleviate periods of high demand, the company is already upgrading operators of business aircraft utilizing Gogo Business Aviation’s older ATG Wi-Fi solutions.
Gogo Business Aviation will transition from its Gogo Biz network to LTE in early 2026, causing the older ATG systems that are installed on approximately 3,000 aircraft to become obsolete. Owners are being urged to upgrade to either AVANCE L3 or L5 in readiness.
Duncan Aviation’s Engineering and Certification Services has already developed a Supplemental Type Certificate covering the equipment upgrade from the legacy ATG systems to AVANCE L3 for operators of the Hawker 800XP, and this STC was recently completed on a jet at the Chesterfield, Missouri, Satellite located at the Spirit of St. Louis Airport.
With an extensive network of Satellite facilities, there’s always a danger that levels of service and skill may differ from one shop to the next, but Duncan Aviation has taken several measures to ensure an equal service across its network.
“Our satellite shops operate under the same repair station general operations manual and adhere to the same quality standards,” Mazzani says. “We strive to obtain the same culture through our networks as we have in our lead MRO centers in Lincoln, Battle Creek and Provo.”
To help ensure this, Duncan Aviation has developed a successful training program for new employees, including New Employee Orientation training during a week at the Lincoln facility; New Employee Technical Orientation; and Satellite Employee Technical Orientation.
“We work as one company across the entire country. Satellite locations constantly receive support from the main facilities and other Satellites, making them stronger and able to perform every task that they face regarding avionics maintenance and upgrades,” Mazzani summarizes.
Following are some of the most common installations and line items that are being requested and performed across Duncan Aviation’s Satellite Network.
More information from: www.duncanaviation.aero/locations/#satellites