Upgrading aircraft components grows Global Aviation Technologies’ business

11/29/2013 12:00 AM

08/08/2014 10:20 AM

Global Aviation Technologies, a family-owned business in southwest Wichita, is growing as it helps aircraft owners fight obsolescence on planes now out of production.

The company is an engineering, consulting and manufacturing operation. It provides aircraft owners and operators with component and avionics upgrades for their airplanes to replace older, outdated equipment.

“We resolve obsolescence and out-of-production issues,” said Woody Cottner, a Wichita native who founded the company and serves as its vice president of engineering.

Sometimes customers of older airplanes complain about a lack of support from manufacturers, Cottner said.

Airplane manufacturers want to keep customers happy, but they have limited resources.

Updating older airplanes is not its core business, said Candace Cottner, the company’s director of operations, who is married to Woody Cottner. New airplane programs are.

When the company opened in 2002, it received its first referral from Learjet.

At the time, Wal-Mart wanted to upgrade the global positioning system on its fleet of Learjet 35s.

“But Learjet didn’t want to do it,” Woody Cottner said. It wasn’t a core competency. It was busy with products still in production.

That business relationship between Wal-Mart and Global Aviation remains today, he said.

Global Aviation specializes in manufacturing wire harnesses. It also designs integration packages for radars, navigation systems, cabin lighting and flight deck upgrades for out-of production aircraft.

Its biggest customers include Piedmont Airlines, L3 Communications Vertex, Worthington Aviation, Bombardier Learjet, Beechcraft and Northrop Grumman.

Global Aviation recently introduced an overheat protection system for the Learjet 45 and an emergency battery for the Learjet 40 and 45.

It expects to complete certification for an LED caution warning panel for the DeHavilland Dash 8 turboprop this month.

The company also assembles parts needed for a new flight management system for Learjet 31A jets for inclusion in installation kits ready to ship.

The kits make it easier for technicians to know they have everything they need, Woody Cottner said.

In 2011, the company was awarded a significant contract from Nextant Aerospace for wire harnesses to upgrade Hawker 400XP aircraft. Nextant has since decided to manufacture the harnesses in-house.

Despite the change, Global Aviation is growing. The company employs 15, up from four in 2006.

“We’ve got such a good group of folks,” Woody Cottner said. “It’s a lot of fun.”

The company is located in 14,750 square feet of space at 1704 S. Baehr — its fourth location in its 11-year history.

It’s currently in the process of buying five acres near 31st Street South and Hoover Road.

The plan is to break ground on a 40,000-square-foot building sometime next year.

“We’ll never have to move again,” said Candace Cottner.

The goal is to have enough work to hire additional employees, she said.

“Our vision is to help people get back to work,” Candace Cottner said.

Candace joined her husband in the company in 2006 after spending 10 years in the banking industry.

“It’s been a really good transition,” she said. “I learned a tremendous amount.”

The two complement one another.

“The best part of it is working with my husband,” she said.

Many people have remarked how they wouldn’t be able to work with their spouses. But they like it.

At first, they had to learn how to respond to each other’s differences, Candace Cottner said.

Woody Cottner is the creative person. She takes care of the financial side.

“I play the devil’s advocate,” Candace Cottner said. “I have to reel him back in sometimes (and say) ‘How much is this going to cost?’ ”

The couple’s son, Jerome, is a production manager, and a cousin is a quality control manager.

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