Aviation Company Adding Jobs as FAA Safety Mandate Looms


Changes in airplane safety have a local aviation company looking to hire more workers, just as Grand Island's airport progresses with their own expansion.

The Central Nebraska Regional Airport has plans for a new passenger terminal – where airlines and the general public ticket and board – and for a new general aviation terminal – where private planes and charter passengers will go.

On Wednesday the Hall County Airport Authority voted to reject the general aviation terminal bids they received, saying the costs were higher than they hoped for.

CNRA Executive Director Mike Olson says instead they'll pair that project with the passenger terminal and get estimates for work on both.

"The airport is more than just passenger boardings, there's maintenance and ground handling and fueling and the business aviation and the general aviation sector as well," says Olson.

Trego/Dugan Aviation, the commercial company that services the airport (known as a fixed-base operator), will use the general aviation terminal the most. Officials say they're excited about a new facility since they're getting ready to handle more traffic of their own.

Trego/Dugan Avionics Director Aaron Hall says and FAA safety equipment mandate means thousands of planes will need work done in the next few years.

"It brings in GPS positioning, altitude information, velocity information, and things like that which basically set a more safe precedent," says Hall.

Trego/Dugan is getting certified to perform the work, and is already hiring more technicians so the six they currently employ aren't overloaded.

"Probably within the next few months we're going to at least hire six or seven more avionics installers and then from that point on probably another 18 more," says Hall.

Hall says a growing work force means more than just faster turn-around with planes.

"More air traffic, more ground traffic, more fuel sales of course, and hotels for people that want to stay a couple of nights while their aircraft is being done," says Hall. "Airlines are going to be effected too because people may want to go home and leave their aircraft here."

Around 220,000 general aviation aircraft will need this new safety surveillance feature called Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast by 2020. Hall says they'll have an advantage by getting started now, and because Grand Island is centrally located for a lot of pilots.