FLIGHT DEPT PROFILE
OADS visits govt agencies, OEMs and customers with Falcon 50 and Premier IA
Bell UH1 is used in helo development tests for zero-zero LandSafe system.
OADS Founder & Owner Phil Rogers (L) and Chief Pilot Tim Bienlien get ready to taxi the Premier IA at the start of a domestic trip. The Falcon 50 is used for overseas trips and most west coast missions.
OADS's first foray into flying took place in 1992 when it acquired a Beech Bonanza A36 (now with the Rogers' son in Texas). A PA31-350 Chieftain was operated from 1999 until it was traded in against a King Air B200.
This aircraft flew for OADS until 2010.
Today, OADS's primary fleet consists of a 1984 Dassault Falcon 50, a 2006 Raytheon Premier IA and a 1964 Bell UH1H. The Falcon 50 was bought in Aug 2009, the Premier IA in Jul 2010 (replacing the King Air B200). OADS purchased the UH1 from a private civilian company in Jun 2004. A Chelton EFIS was installed later in order to display data from the landing system that OADS was developing.
While the UH1 is used for real-time systems testing, the business jets make it possible for Phil and Alisa Rogers and their team to visit vendors, OEMs and potential customers. Phil Rogers describes them as "wonderful tools." The Premier IA and the UH1 are operated under Part 91, but the Falcon 50 is operated under both Parts 91 and 135—the latter via a management agreement with ShortHills Aviation.
Bienlien explains that Phil Rogers comes up with the requirements for business travel. Rogers and Bienlien both fly the Premier, while Bienlien and Barbee fly the Falcon 50.
Average utilization runs at about 20 hrs a month on the Premier IA and around 30 hrs per month on the Falcon 50. While Part 135 ops account for some 65% of the Falcon's annual hours, it is the obvious aircraft of choice for OADS's west coast and occasional foreign trips. These take place once or twice a year, typically to Europe and Canada.
Since the UH1 is tasked with flight test, its flight hours are unpredictable. A given year might see it flying 10–15 hrs, but last year it notched up close to 100 hrs.
Not strictly part of the OADS fleet, but sharing the hangar with them, are Phil Rogers' 1940-vintage Boeing Stearman PT17, a 1952 Chance Vought F4U-7 which formerly served with the French Navy, a 1942 ex-South African Air Force Harvard, and his most recent acquisition—a 1951 Lockheed T33A that languished in a Chicago area A&P school for years after being struck off charge from the US Air Force until Rogers bought it as a long-term restoration project.
Contract Pilot Dave Barbee is a 9000-hr-TT pilot with an ATP. He joined OADS in Aug 2009 when it acquired the Falcon 50.
OADS has 4 pilots on staff, including 1 full-time contract pilot—Dave Barbee, who flies the Falcon 50. One is Phil Rogers himself, who is rated in the Premier IA. Chief Pilot Tim Bienlien is cross trained on all OADS aircraft, both fixed and rotary-wing, while Dir of Maintenance Donny Vang also flies the UH1.
Bienlien is a former US Navy helo pilot with 9000 hrs TT. After gaining his wings in 1989, he flew Kaman SH2s for 4 years, followed by Bell HH1Ns and Beech UC12Bs from 1993–96 at NLC (Lemoore NAS, Lemoore CA) and Gulfstream C20Gs with VR51 from 1998–2005. Meanwhile he flew DHC6 Twin Otters for Island Air from 1999–2000 and Boeing 737s for Aloha Airlines from 2000 until 2008, when he was hired by OADS.
Being cross trained, Bienlien flies on most missions. In an average year this means approximately 30 RONs. The same figure also applies to Barbee, who flies the Falcon 50 exclusively.
Phil Rogers has 2700 hrs TT. In addition to the Premier, he is rated in the F4U Corsair, the Beech Bonanza A36 and the King Air B200. (The latter 2 used to form part of OADS's fleet.)
Falcon 50 Contract Pilot Dave Barbee has 9000 hrs TT and holds an ATP. He joined OADS when the Falcon 50 was acquired in Aug 2009, and works full-time for OADS.
Before he was hired by OADS, Barbee had a lot of international experience, much of it gained flying Falcon 50s and 900s for a management company in Florida. He flew Falcon 900s for 15 years and Falcon 50s for 13, but began his flying career as a freight pilot on Rockwell Commander 690s—"a great way to build real-world IFR experience."
Flying is picking up again, says Barbee. The last long trip was to Europe and lasted a month, "although 2 weeks is more typical." Barbee has made 10 such trips thus far.
Premier I recurrent training takes place at FlightSafety Intl ILG, with Falcon 50 at SimuFlite Dallas. Bienlien has nothing but praise for both but adds, "We're real happy with SimuFlite. And we get decent hours."
Keeping them flying
Most maintenance is performed inhouse by a team of 4 technicians. Dir of Maintenance Donny Vang, Lead Mechanic David Akeley and Mechanic Mike White are all former US Marine Corps (USMC) helicopter crew chiefs. (Vang and Akeley served together on Bell UH1s and AH1s, while White worked on Sikorsky CH53s.) Mike White is an A&P/IA who has been with OADS since Oct 2009. Line Technician Mike Whiteman started with OADS in Aug 2009 and is training to get his A&P license.
"With Phil and Alisa, anything related to safety is a priority," says Vang. While the OADS team carries out as much work as possible on the Premier IA and Falcon 50 inhouse—including A and B inspections—large jobs and major inspections on the Falcon 50 go to Dassault ILG (Wilmington DE). Vang says that only the high price of tooling leads to certain tasks being outsourced. All Bell UH1 maintenance is done inhouse.
Team members work 8–10 hrs a day Monday through Friday and are on call at other times. Weekend call-outs are most likely to involve the Falcon 50.
OADS has good relations with Dassault and Hawker Beechcraft, and Bienlien reports that DOCs for both the Premier and Falcon are close to book figures.
Both of OADS's business jets are enrolled in engine and airframe maintenance programs. The Premier IA's Williams FJ44s are on Williams TAP Elite, the airframe on Support Plus, while the Falcon 50's Honeywell TFE731s and airframe are on Honeywell MSP Gold and JSSI programs, respectively. As Bienlien notes, this makes it easier to budget. In a similar vein, Vang says, "We get 4 or 5 quotes before purchasing parts or farming out jobs."
Vang joined OADS in Nov 2005 as an A&P mechanic, after working for PHI Medevac in northern Virginia. He gained his IA in 2006 and was promoted to maintenance director in Aug 2010. Vang holds both fixed and rotary-wing licenses and has flown the UH1 for the past 3 years. In this capacity his work includes support for LandSafe PFIS development.
As much as 95% of LandSafe PFIS R&D work is done at HEF in clear air—ie, without dust. Real-world testing calls for a more demanding environment—hence the UH1 missions to INS and LGF. Vang has been closely involved in all of these, serving initially as crew chief but most recently as project leader.
This entailed arranging logistics, flight planning and testing, all of which are aimed at providing glitch-free data and squawk-free instrumentation to ensure the project's success.2