Aviation

Aircraft supplier at NBAA making its own products

Jim Barnes, president and chief operating officer of Harlow Aerostructures, displays part of the company’s new aircraft auto throttle he is pitching to aircraft manufacturers at the National Business Aviation Association Convention this week in Orlando, Fla. (Nov. 1, 2016)
Jim Barnes, president and chief operating officer of Harlow Aerostructures, displays part of the company’s new aircraft auto throttle he is pitching to aircraft manufacturers at the National Business Aviation Association Convention this week in Orlando, Fla. (Nov. 1, 2016) The Wichita Eagle

In addition to building parts for aircraft manufacturers, Jim Barnes wants Harlow Aerostructures to build its own products.

That’s why Barnes, president and chief operating officer of the 180-employee aircraft supplier, is at the National Business Aviation Association Convention this week in Orlando, Fla.

Harlow is one of 20 area companies and organizations exhibiting at the Greater Wichita Partnership’s booth at the Orange County Convention Center.

Barnes wants to line up a list of airplane manufacturers – primarily those that make turboprops and business jets – for whom he can demonstrate the company’s new auto throttle once it receives certification from the Federal Aviation Administration and European Aviation Safety Agency, hopefully in February. He wants to get it on as many new production general aviation aircraft as he can. He sees an opportunity to later expand sales of Harlow’s auto throttle to the aircraft aftermarket.

“We’re here at NBAA to talk to as many people as we can,” he said.

Harlow has been building mechanical aircraft throttles for years in addition to high-speed machining of large parts and making complex assemblies.

But Barnes thinks there’s an opportunity to grow the company’s business by building even more sophisticated aircraft throttles that electronically regulate an airplane’s speed from just after takeoff to just before landing.

Harlow’s auto throttle will communicate with an airplane’s flight management system to govern its speed for fuel efficiency and to free a pilot to focus on other things such as situational awareness.

Barnes said the company began designing and developing its auto throttle about 2 1/2 years ago. He said the company was able to acquire some software and hardware for the auto throttle from Boeing after it closed down its Wichita operations.

The company will end up spending $1.5 million by the time it gets the auto throttle certified, he said.

Barnes said he thinks auto throttles on turboprops and business jets in the future will be as ubiquitous as cruise control is in a car today.

The robot was part of the Greater Wichita Partnership booth exhibiting at the National Business Aviation Association Convention in Orlando, Fla. (Video by Jerry Siebenmark / The Wichita Eagle)

Jerry Siebenmark: 316-268-6576, @jsiebenmark

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