FLIGHT DEPT PROFILE

Wilson Construction builds profits with aviation assets

High-precision electrical power line support in remote areas is standard practice for Oregon-based contractor.


Chief Pilot Helicopters Jim Hattan was Wilson Construction’s first full-time rotor wing pilot in 2004 and fully enjoys the unique aspects of this job.

While product support from MD Helicopters has improved over the past couple of years Duren says he normally deals with third-party parts and service providers and always keeps a generous spares inventory on hand.

“We do everything we can in-house and whenever we order spares we order multiple units and always stock a year’s worth of consumables,” says Duren.

“We work our aircraft at the upper limits of their power ratings but they’ve always been very reliable aircraft for us and the relatively lightweight engines and components are easy to work with.”

Pilot hiring on the rotor wing side is a rigorous routine with all new-hires expected to possess both MD500 and longline experience.

On the fixed wing front additional professional pilots will be hired as operations expand and a 2-pilot jet potentially joins the fleet.

As sole company pilot Ward says he enjoys an attractive lifestyle, better than industry average benefits and the opportunity of working closely with company principals.

“Most of our flights are short-notice departures and I work every day,” says Ward. “I manage every account for all 3 aircraft and, since attending an NBAA course, I’ve been developing our standard operating procedures manual.

Senior Mechanic Eric Waite inspects an MD500E C20B+ engine compartment. Technicians spend much of their time out in the field supporting their helicopters.

This is a high-energy company requiring high productivity. I enjoy operating at 100% and working with owners who understand and appreciate business aviation.”

Future directions

After several decades in the power transmission support business Wilson Construction found a way to boost business opportunities significantly by way of strategic investments in business and utility aircraft.

A Wilson Construction MD500E moves into position to do skid work. A lineman is secured to the side of the aircraft, ready to work a line “hands-on” as the pilot holds the ship steady.

A Wilson Construction MD500E moves into position to do skid work. A lineman is secured to the side of the aircraft, ready to work a line “hands-on” as the pilot holds the ship steady.

Thanks to these productive turbine assets the company is bidding on jobs coast-to-coast and no longer just in the northwest. Overseas power line support opportunities have also begun to emerge in Guam, Hawaii and Indonesia.

Looking to the future the company plans to consider the 3000-lb light single helicopter arena while perhaps expanding with some larger 3000 to 5000-lb lift capable machines such as the Bell 212 or 214.

As business opportunities grow nationwide a larger and faster company jet is also likely in the cards. “One of the keys to our success has been the ability to offer our customers construction aviation support capabilities in-house,” says Don Wilson.

“Our business has tripled since we began flying our own helicopters and we’ll continue to expand our aviation capabilities and pilot talent to give our customers the fastest, safest and most flexible response.”

Editor-at-Large Grant McLaren has written for Pro Pilot for over 20 years and specializes in corporate flight department coverage.

 

 

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