Hawker Pacific Aerospace knows all about landing gears. It has to. The Sun Valley, Calif.-based company has made the technology the focal point of its mission.
Landing gears need to perform perfectly and, as Hawker Pacific Aerospace points out, the aviation world does not forgive imperfection. Essentially an aircraft’s legs and wheels, and landing gears are crucial to lift-off and landing and perform important functions during flight, extending and retracting as necessary, and absorbing enormous shock levels upon touchdown. After flight, landing gears help steer an aircraft to wherever it needs to go on the ground. Without a fully functioning landing gear, a craft’s in trouble. (Remember those airplane disaster movies from the ‘60s and ‘70s? A pilot always seemed to crying out, “We’ve lost our landing gear!”)
As Hawker Pacific Aerospace well understands, there’s no room for imperfection: the stakes are simply too high and the risks too enormous. Each part of a landing gear system is critical to any flight mission’s success. Aircraft requires nothing less than flawless performance, and the company readily assumes the responsibility. Indeed, achieving perfection is the motivating factor behind every employee as well as the company’s systems and processes.
Formed in 1958, and arising from a rich aviation heritage, Hawker Pacific Aerospace is now one of the leading landing gear service providers in the world. Customer support runs an alphabetical gamut from AOG to MRO, and the company supplies clients with overhaul and repair of landing gears, flap carriages, tracks, hydraulics, actuators, wheels, and brake systems, among others.
UNDER LUFTHANSA’S WING
Today, the Hawker Pacific Aerospace Sun Valley operation is a 100-percent owned subsidiary of Lufthansa Technik AG and part of that company’s landing gear division.
While its current status resulted from recent transactions, Hawker Pacific Aerospace possesses roots that date back nearly as far as modern aviation’s beginnings. In fact, the Hawker portion of the company name comes from famed test pilot and industry hall-of-famer Harry Hawker, whose own history is quite storied. According to reports, he took to the air a mere seven years after the Wright Brothers launched their world-changing aircraft, receiving his flight training from aviation pioneer Thomas Sopwith, inventor of the Sopwith Camel, a British World War I single-seat fighter biplane, famous for its maneuverability. (In popular culture, Charlie Brown’s dog Snoopy often “flew” his own Sopwith Camel – a.k.a., his doghouse – against the Red Baron.)
Subsequently, Walker not only set early aviation records and helped design early examples of aircraft, but he went into business. After World War I, Hawker and partners gained control of Sopwith’s patent rights and formed Hawker Engineering. In 1921, Hawker died from injuries sustained in an airplane crash, and his former mentor became Hawker Engineering’s chairmen. With Sopwith at the controls, Hawker Engineering acquired other aviation companies as the industry continued growing.
In the 1930s, Hawker Engineering became Hawker Aircraft Ltd. and then the Hawker Siddeley Company. Subsequently, various permutations transpired, resulting in the formation of Hawker Pacific Inc. In the meantime, the Sun Valley operation was founded as Stellar Hydraulics in 1958. Almost 30 years later, it became part of the Hawker fold.
Ultimately, Lufthansa Technik, a subsidiary of Deutsche Lufthansa, acquired complete ownership of Hawker Pacific Aerospace in 2002.
“We became part of Lufthansa Technik in 2002, which was a very important chapter in our recent history,” recalls Rene Born, sales and marketing manager for the California-based operation. “Lufthansa Technik is one of the top global MRO corporations, and the acquisition brought us into a worldwide network. Thus, we are able to access the attributes of several international locations and service customers locally in different parts of the world.”
As Born indicates, this was an important development for Hawker Pacific Aerospace. Lufthansa Technik AG, the technical and maintenance arm of Deutsche Lufthansa Airlines, records nearly $5.1 billion in revenue each year through repair and overhaul services offered to the international aviation industry. The acquisition positioned Hawker Pacific Aerospace to realize substantial growth.
Lufthansa’s Aviation Group is one of the top international transport corporations. It includes more than 400 subsidiaries and affiliates, and it’s active in segments that include passenger business, logistics, repair and overhaul, as well as catering and IT services. In all, Lufthansa Technik and its 32 companies have about 26,000 employees and more than 630 customers throughout the world.
The company’s divisions include aircraft maintenance services, aircraft component services, engine services, aircraft base maintenance, VIP & executive jet solutions, and the landing gear services. Hawker Pacific Aerospace is part of the landing gear division.
NETWORKING ITS ASSETS
As a member of that division, Hawker Pacific Aerospace became part of one of the world’s most capable aircraft-service groups with an 80-year history of excellence and innovation. Further, it became part of a global network with locations near major airports. The network currently includes Lufthansa Technik’s Hamburg, Germany operations and partner facilities in the United Kingdom (Hawker Pacific Aerospace in London) and Ameco Beijing in China, which is a joint venture controlled by Lufthansa and Air China.
“Network affiliation provides us access to an enormous exchange pool of more than 200 individual landing gears and allows it to serve our customers on local basis,” says Born.
In addition to providing repair and overhaul services for fixed wing aircraft and helicopters, Hawker Pacific Aerospace also sells aftermarket parts.
SHINING BRIGHT IN SUN VALLEY
Appropriately, like other members of the network, Hawker Pacific Aerospace’s Sun Valley site is located near a major international air-travel hub: the Bob Hope Airport in Burbank, Calif. Company facilities included 193,000 square feet spread throughout eight buildings with complete in-house capabilities, where close to 350 cross-trained employees work. Besides providing landing gear maintenance, repair and overhaul services for all major types of commercial aircraft, the employees offer customers complete hydraulic and pneumatic component maintenance services for a wide variety of aircraft. Specifically, the aircraft the company supports include the Airbus A300-600, A330, A310, A318, A319, A320 and A321 models; the Boeing B737, B747, B757, B767, B777, DC10-10/30 and MD11 models; Bombardier’s CRJ 700 and CRJ 900 aircraft; and Embraer’s 130, 135, 140, 145, 170, 175, 190 and 195 models.
The California site is a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and European Aviation Safety Agency-certified landing gear and hydraulics repair station. Moreover, comprehensive in-house capabilities allow Hawker Pacific Aerospace to provide cost-effective lean processes and impressively quick turnaround times, according to the company.
“Our processes make us a cost-efficient solution for customers,” says Born. “Lean activities help us continually improve our processes. Further, we operate with international standards, as activities take us throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas. Our customers, no matter where they are located, will receive the same high level of quality.”
Hawker Pacific Aerospace’s client list is diverse and includes commercial airlines, air cargo operators, aircraft leasing companies, U.S. government agencies, aircraft parts distributors and original equipment manufacturers. Specific services include landing gear repair and overhaul, landing gear exchange, component repair and overhaul, engineering support, PMA development, back-to-birth traceability, life-limited part tracking, spare parts support, on-wing support and 24/7 AOG support. Its onsite designated engineering representatives are all FAA-certified.
One of the ways that Hawker Aerospace became a leader in its field is its ability to furnish quick turnaround. “In the aviation industry, customers need to get their units returned as quickly as possible,” says Born. “That’s something we accomplish quite easily by streamlining our processes and focusing on achieving ever higher quality levels.”
As far as addressing emerging industry trends, Hawker Pacific Aerospace is aligning its operations to meet customer concerns about costs. “In recent years, costs have assumed greater importance to our customers, and we can now offer them significant savings,” says Born.
The company achieves this by working directly with OEMs to develop PMA authorizations, so that it can often provide OEM-quality replacement parts at a fraction of the cost. Also, Hawker Pacific Aerospace’s on-site FAA designated engineering representatives can approve new repair procedures designed to save customers the cost of replacement parts, the company reports. Finally, Hawker’s 100-percent in-house operations allow it to perform all of its services without having to turn to expensive outside contractors.
Hawker Pacific Aerospace has been soaring for a half century, reaching its current position by steady ascent. The company has experienced an annual growth rate in the 17-percent range in recent years, and it appears that the company has no plans to level off any time soon. With engines turbo-charged by network affiliations and parent company support, the company’s nose is pointed at the ozone.