It’s a busy time for aircraft repair, and avionics shop Bevan-Rabell has taken on three new projects, prompting it to hire more workers.
The 18-employee company on the east side of Wichita Eisenhower National Airport is simultaneously working on programs to update Beechcraft King Air 200s used by the U.S. Forest Service for firefighting and Cessna Caravans for an Oklahoma-based aircraft refurbishing firm, and installing new Garmin G5000 avionics on Beechjet 400As.
“It’s a big part of our business and something we’ve been working on and cultivating for some time,” Bevan-Rabell president Kent McIntyre said Wednesday of the three projects.
It’s work that led Bevan-Rabell to hire two more avionics technicians this year. The company expects to hire at least one more avionics technician and possibly a fourth soon, McIntyre said.
The King Air work involves modifying the aircraft to hold six radios – three aircraft band and three tactical band – instead of two and equipment. The aircraft are leased by Ponca City-based Greenwood Aviation to the Forest Service to lead and coordinate wildland firefighting efforts from the air.
McIntyre said it takes about 550 hours to complete the work on one airplane.
“Initially it will be eight (airplanes) but probably 12 before it’s all over,” McIntyre said of the number of King Airs Bevan will work on for the program. It is currently working on the first one.
The Cessna Caravan work came through a previous relationship with the general manager of Aircraft Structures International Corp., an Enid, Okla.-based company that refurbishes used Caravans and leases them to air cargo companies. Bevan’s work in the program involves upgrading the avionics in those aircraft to glass cockpits, amounting to about 350 hours of work on each airplane.
“We’ve been planning this for a year and started our first (Caravan) in March,” McIntyre said. Bevan just finished its third Caravan for the company and expects to be working on two more in this “first batch,” he said.
“We expect it to be an ongoing program,” McIntrye added.
But perhaps the biggest program of the three, he said, is the installation of the Garmin G5000 avionics package. The Olathe-based avionics manufacturer earlier this fall received Federal Aviation Approval for its top-of-the-line G5000 to be installed in the Beechjet 400A, allowing Bevan, a Garmin dealer, to take on the work.
“It’s a very extensive installation,” McIntyre said, adding that its first job amounted to about 1,000 hours, though he expects those hours to decrease as Bevan’s avionics technicians do more G5000 installations.
“It was a big jump for us, a big commitment in that level of equipment, that level of project.”
Dwayne Clemens, owner of Stearman Field in Benton, is Bevan’s first customer for the G5000 upgrades in the Beechjet.
Clemens’ aircraft management company has seven Beechjets that it manages for 25 Wichita companies.
Bevan is working on the second Beechjet for Clemens, who in addition to the G5000 upgrades is also having Textron Aviation install winglets on the aircraft.
“I really like keeping the work local,” Clemens said. “(Bevan) is a great shop, and we’ve used them for years.”
The winglets are installed by Textron workers at Bevan’s shop.
“Moving forward, we think there’s an opportunity to work together to install both (G5000 and winglets) at the same time,” McIntyre said.
Clemens said the addition of the G5000 and winglets have improved the performance of the jet and eliminated about 300 pounds of extra weight.
“It’s a really good thing for the airplane,” he said. “It’s put a lot of life back in them.”