Avionics News February 2021 - 44

GARAGE-BAND AVIONICS SHOP GROWS BIG
Continued from page 43

Collins Venue. It also installs Honeywell Ovation Select cabin
management systems.
" We compete on a high level with big companies for
business, and we hold a lot of the same dealerships with
Honeywell, Collins, Universal Avionics and Gogo for business
jets, " Peterson said.
There have been some jobs involving multiple aircraft,
and in one case, Pro Star deployed one of its installation and
modification crews to Florida for seven months.
Pro Star is also a Pilatus authorized service center and does
a lot of maintenance on the single-engine turboprop PC-12
and on the 11-passenger PC-24 twin jet now that it has entered
service. Pro Star does a lot of Gogo Avance connectivity system
installations on Pilatus aircraft.
Once COVID-19 hit and made travelling difficult, the
company saw its work on the road fall by 50%. The company
responded to the pandemic at its fixed facility in New
Hampshire by following local health department guidance on
when people could report to work and when they should stay
home.
Most of the office employees spent two months working from
home, but the 40 technicians who are the floor-level production
folks continued to work in the hangar using masks, social
distancing and washing their hands frequently. Meetings were
held using Microsoft Teams rather than in person, and visitors
were generally kept out of the facility. After the second quarter
dip in business, the third and fourth quarter returned to near
normal levels. By the end of the year, the shop was fully booked
for the first two months of 2021.
Pro Star uses a single-engine Piper Saratoga to get its
technicians and equipment to jobs as well as vans. It plans to
upgrade from the Saratoga to a Piper Meridian single-engine
turboprop soon. The aircraft allows the company to reposition
people and tooling to perform a job on the road. " We don't add
time to the installation if we do it remotely because we are faster
than anyone else and do the job at the same level as if it is in our
facility, " Peterson said.
It takes about two to three weeks of downtime to install
a satellite communications Wi-Fi system at the customer's
location such as the Honeywell Jetwave with 30 Mbps
capability. This system operates on Inmarsat Aviation's GX
Ka-band network and is complemented by Honeywell Forge
suite of apps and services. Pro Star also installs a lot of Viasat
Inc. high-speed, high capacity Ka-band connectivity solutions,
which also take about three weeks to complete.
The company estimates all expenses involved in an
installation at the customer's location in advance including
related travel costs. In nine of 10 cases, the result is considerable
44

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2021

savings for the customer compared to repositioning an aircraft
for the work including aircraft and crew costs.
As the business has grown, Pro Star has enhanced its business
processes and procedures to meet the highest standards in the
industry. This is a work in progress with more improvements on
the way.
When Pro Star moved into the new hangar in 2017, Harriman
decided to hire a general manager to help take the company to
a new level. When Peterson went to talk to Harriman about the
job, he felt a good connection and decided to go to work for the
man he now says is the best boss he has ever had.
Peterson got to where he is in the industry the hard way,
starting at the bottom rung on the ladder. He understands what
happens on the floor of the hangar because that is where he
began his career.
His first job was working for Bombardier Aerospace in
Connecticut in 1996 at the age of 19 and right out of technical
high school. He had been introduced at school to manufacturing
techniques including CNC machining, G code programming
and auto CAD design. He was all set to go to school to become
an airframe and powerplant mechanic when he interviewed with
Bombardier and was offered a job as a mechanic's helper. He
signed on to service ground servicing equipment and help the
mechanics.
For a young man who wanted to be a mechanic, Peterson
grabbed every opportunity that came his way to learn more
and eventually earned his A&P license under Federal Aviation
Administration Part 65. He moved up to working on structural
modifications and began installing antennas and racks. He was
trained to do pin and terminal crimping and terminations of all
sorts. Then he started focusing more on avionics and electrical
wiring for several years, as he spent time in the avionics
modifications shop before moving to avionics line work doing
troubleshooting, repairs and equipment checkout. He took
courses at a technical college to learn electrical and circuit
theory.
At the time, Peterson found he enjoyed working for Jim
Scavato who inspired him when he learned that his boss had
moved from being a mechanic on the floor to his role as general
manager. Scavato had a good personal touch. " He knew I was
not just a number, and he complimented my work, " Peterson
said. " I couldn't believe his transition to general manager, and
it seemed so far out of possibility for me to be one in a million
that I would get that chance. "
Still, the young mechanic started to immerse himself in
roles that would lead him down that path to general manager.
He moved into more of a management role in scheduling and
planning for maintenance and avionics installations on all
Bombardier business jets, including the Challenger, Global
Express and Learjet models.
In 2004, Peterson got hired by Embraer and moved to



Avionics News February 2021

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Avionics News February 2021 - Intro
Avionics News February 2021 - No label
Avionics News February 2021 - Cover2
Avionics News February 2021 - 1
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