The Duncan Download Blog: Business Aviation Advice & Observations

What’s today? National Aviation Day of Course!

Posted by Diane Heiserman on Tue, Aug 19, 2014 @ 04:55 PM


Duncan Aviation’s Chairman, Todd Duncan, visits the Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills, North Carolina, while on a family vacation.

In 1939, President Franklin Roosevelt proclaimed this day, August 19, to be National Aviation Day to celebrate the history and development of aviation. This date coincides with the birthday of Orville Wright who, together with his brother Wilbur, made significant contributions to powered flight.

Today, like every other day of the year, Duncan Aviation celebrates aviation as the largest, family owned business aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) company in the world, with over 2,000 employees and 2 full-service maintenance facilities located in Lincoln, Nebraska, and Battle Creek, Michigan. Additional locations include Provo, Utah, and 27 other facilities strategically located throughout the United States to providing local support and quick response to avionics, engine and airframe Aircraft On Ground (AOG) situations. We celebrate with gratitude, as the perseverance of the Wright brothers has made a huge impact on the lives of everyone within business aviation. 

Two days from now, on August 21, Duncan Aviation will celebrate its Founder’s Day, commemorating Donald Duncan’s birthday. Donald is the company’s founder and the grandfather to Duncan Aviation’s Chairman, Todd Duncan. This is a day for Duncan Aviation team members to pause and reflect on Duncan Aviation’s rich history while looking forward to a promising future.

That history is based upon a set of ideals passed down from Donald through Robert Duncan, Duncan Aviation’s Chairman Emeritus, and now to Todd Duncan. These values are dedicated to keeping a family culture as the company grew, no matter how many employees or locations. From the beginning, Duncan Aviation’s Core Valueswere not something that had to be memorized or learned by employees because they were simply a description of who they were and how they did business every day. Duncan Aviation team members embody excellence and a passion for aviation that shows in their work every day.

Duncan Aviation Across Six Decades

Duncan Aviation was established in 1956 in Clarinda, Iowa, during the prosperous years after WWI and earliest years of business aviation. You could say they have been in the business from the beginning and played a major part in its early development.  

Over the next six decades, Duncan Aviation grew from a single location in Omaha, Nebraska, to an international business aviation pioneer with locations all across the United States and team members around the globe.

Duncan Pride

Aviation is obviously very important to us. We live it every day. For many team members, who hold personal and commercial pilots license and still go flying on evenings and weekends after they have spent their entire day or week working on someone else’s aircraft, it is a passion. They say it’s in the blood.

Watch Duncan Aviation’s Core Values video, as team members express why the company’s Core Values resonate so much with their teams and how they can be seen in every aspect of their workday.

Let’s All Scream For Ice Cream

Every day is the National Day of something. And because there are so many things wanting their day in the spotlight, some have to share. So while we reminisce about aviation history, how it’s changed and where it’s headed, go out and grab your favorite soft-serve because it’s National Soft Ice Cream Day too!  

Tags: Careers & Recruiting, Videos

Sales Team Answers Top Paint Refurbishment Questions

Posted by Danielle Kavan on Mon, Aug 18, 2014 @ 12:31 PM

A paint refurbishment can completely transform and revive an aircraft, but this update comes with a downtime of several weeks and a hefty price tag.

Although many of the customer projects Duncan Aviation delivers don’t necessarily lend well to generic FAQs, a general pattern of questions do emerge from prospects looking to have their aircraft repainted.

Here are the top two:


The simple answer is once every five-to-six years - if you hangar your aircraft and wash it frequently. Try to avoid flying near to saltwater or snow where de-icing products are used. Inspect for chips on a regular basis, and stay current on your touch-ups. If you can stick to those rules of thumb, then you can maximize the life of your aircraft paint work.

Of course, the above pointers are pretty unrealistic for most business aircraft operators - so, if you’re looking to avoid even more expensive corrosion issues you should take your aircraft in for a full paint refurbishment every half-decade.

An ideal time to repaint your aircraft is during a major maintenance event.

For example, we recommend Falcon owners sync a strip and paint with their major C-maintenance event, which occurs every six years.


“Anyone can shoot a glossy coat of paint,” says Completions Sales Representative George Bajo, “but the value is in the details and proven processes.

“It’s all about the details. That’s what you pay for, and that’s what customers need to really look at when they’re comparing quotes. These bonus items cost a bit more, but the added value is definitely worth it.”

The attention to detail at the sealed windows and cleanliness of the painted landing gear are evidence of a job done right. New stair treads; dressed boots; wiped down wheels and wheel wells; painting inside of gear doors; radome boots that don’t yellow; and erosion tape are extras that customers should expect as a part of the service.


A team member helps prep a Gulfstream GV in Duncan Aviation's Lincoln, Nebraska, facility. View time-lapse video


  • Want to learn more about the futrue of paint refurbishment? Download our free Chrome-Free Aircraft Paint Systems Field Guide.
  • Watch an incredible time-lapse video of a Duncan Aviation paint refurbishment on a Bombardier Global 5000.
  • How about this time-lapse video of a lime-gree M2 livery?  

Tags: Paint Refurbishment, Videos

Duncan Aviation Celebrates Members With 25+ Yrs of Experience

Posted by Diane Heiserman on Wed, Aug 13, 2014 @ 11:18 AM


“Experience is vital in this business. We want our employees to enjoy where they work and how we do business; we want them to make careers at Duncan Aviation.” 

- Robert Duncan, Chairman Emeritus

Wisdom At Work

How many of your co-workers have 25 or more years of experience?  How about ten? Five? The average American sticks with a job for 4.6 years, according to the Bureau of Labor. Yet Duncan Aviation has 245 people who can claim a quarter century or more with the company.  

It’s nearly impossible to put a price tag on experience, as it can’t be replicated or accurately quantified, but Duncan Aviation does what it can to recognize those individuals who have made a career out of caring for our customers. Those team members who have dedicated 25 years to the company are inducted into a prestigious organization, the Silver Wings Club.


Senior Captain Harry Barr and guest Jessy Panzer attend the 2014 Silver Wings Celebration. Harry has been a member for 31 years.

Duncan Aviation recently added 54 new members to the club at celebration dinners in Lincoln, Nebraska, and Battle Creek, Michigan. These additions bring the total to 245. That is more than 10 percent of the total workforce, with members spread across more than 30 locations.

Experienced technicians can pinpoint a problem in significantly less time than a newer technician because they’ve likely seen it before. Human resources representatives who’ve been with the company for years really know the other team members and can work to find solutions quickly. Managers with more than a decade under their belt typically work their way up through the ranks, allowing them to empathize with their team and lead by example, because they’ve been there before. Expertise is something that doesn’t happen overnight.

Duncan Aviation works hard to retain team members for these reasons and countless more.

“We invest a lot in our team members—professional training, our wellness program and little things every day that recognize a job well done—and every penny and minute we spend is worth it,” says Vice President of Human Resources Michael Cox. “I love that when I tell people about my career, they say, ‘oh, that’s a great place to work.’”

Travel and Events Coordinator Pam Orr is just one example of the hundreds of team members who have become experts in their fields.

She has 38 years with the company and ensures our rapid response tech reps get to the customer when they need to be and everything goes as planned at the more than 250 events Duncan Aviation hosts and attends each year.

“I connect our people to customers through events or one-on-one meetings,” explains Pam. “But my job has become much more than that over the years. I’ve picked up a lot of tips and tricks to get people where they need to be as quickly as possible while saving the company money.”

Pam is one of 11 team members with 38 years of experience. Senior Captain Harry Barr has been with Duncan Aviation for a total of 56 years, making him the most seasoned team member.

Join The Team 

Interested in becoming part of our team? Check out our most recent job posting and visit the Duncan Aviation career website for more information! 


Business Aircraft LRU Battery Replacement

Posted by Diane Heiserman on Fri, Aug 08, 2014 @ 07:00 AM

Contributed by Adrian Chene, Avionics Tech Rep

LRU batteries

Batteries Not Included

Today’s aircraft are a mix and match of different levels of electronic technology. With the proliferation of electronic programmable modules in the 1980s and 90s, came the need to install internal batteries into Line Replacable Units (LRUs) to hold information in memory for indefinite periods of time and make it available to other avionics components when a LRU was powered down.

The first generation of equipment that required the installation of internal batteries revolved around Chapter 34 (navigation) systems. Flight Management, Loran-C and even early GPS receivers required the installation of small batteries that often allowed the system to retain data between power up cycles.

With the advancement of digital avionics, the use of batteries in equipment only increased. Batteries are used today in many Attitude Heading and Reference (AHRS) units, Integrated Avionics Computers / Maintenance Diagnostic Computers (IACs / MDCs), Flight Management Computers (FMCs), Air Data Computers (ADCs) and other flight essential components.

This has lead to many questions. These components are often “on-condition,” meaning that there is no requirement from the manufacturer of the aircraft to identify or track the battery replacement cycle as part of their inspection program. The number of avionics components that have batteries will vary depending on the avionics suite.

Rockwell Collins, Honeywell, Universal, and other manufacturers have published recommended replacement cycles, which vary widely depending on aircraft utilization.

I recommended monitoring battery dependent LRUs by adding them to your computerized maintenance tracking program, if they are not already there. This will allow you to carry out battery replacements with other scheduled maintenance. Proper management of LRUs that utilize an internal battery will help reduce the risk of unscheduled maintenance and unnecessary cost.

Adrian Chene is an Avionics Tech Rep for Duncan Aviation. He provides troubleshooting and technical advice on avionics installation services, and specializes in custom, integrated HSD solutions. He began working in aviation in 1996

Tags: Avionics Installation

Duncan Aviation Has Installed More Than 500 Aircell Wi-Fi Systems

Posted by Duncan Download Blog on Wed, Aug 06, 2014 @ 08:00 AM


With two full-service aircraft service locations and 25 satellite avionics shops strategically placed throughout the United States, Duncan Aviation recently reached a milestone, installing its 500th in-flight connectivity system from Aircell, the business aviation division of Gogo®.

With more than 500 installations, Duncan Aviation holds a prominent position as leader of the aftermarket installation of in-flight internet and aircraft Wi-Fi upgrades such as Aircell Gogo Bizand SwiftBroadband systems.

According to Mike Minchow, Completions and Modifications Marketing Manager for Duncan Aviation, there is strong market demand for products that increase the productivity of business aircraft. “Wireless internet certainly filled a need for business aviation, and Aircell has been a leader in that market. On-board Wi-Fi has completely transformed the travel experience, allowing operators to be much more efficient in the air and allowing for a true office-in-the-sky experience.”

“Combining the benefits of our Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) and multiple locations, we’re able to offer owners a great deal of flexibility as well as the confidence that their aircraft is in the care of the most experienced technicians in the industry and a company known for its service and support,” he continues.

Duncan Aviation has invested heavily in the Wi-Fi market. The company owns 13 STCs for broadband with Wi-Fi. The Duncan Aviation Engineering Team completed the STCs under Duncan Aviation’s ODA, which includes STC, Major Repair and Alterations (MRA) and Parts Manufacturing Approval (PMA) authority. Duncan Aviation holds STCs for in-flight Wi-Fi for the following models: Hawker 800A, 800XP, 850XP, 900XP, the Falcon 2000, 2000EX, 2000EX EASy and 900EX, 900EX EASy, the Cessna CJ2, CJ2+ and CJ3, the Citation 680, 750, the Challenger 300, 601-3A/R, 604, 605, the Lear 45, the Embraer Legacy 600, 650 and the Gulfstream GIV, GV.

John Wade, Aircell’s Executive Vice President and General Manager, says, “Duncan Aviation has now installed approximately 20% of all the Gogo Biz systems in service globally, making a significant contribution to the worldwide adoption of in-flight Internet services in the business aviation market. They’ve fully embraced connectivity technologies on behalf of customers, invested in STCs and built deep technical expertise.”

An Operator's Guide to Aircraft Internet Options

As operators research Wi-Fi and in-flight internet options, it’s easy to get confused with all the systems, capabilities and coverage zones. Duncan Aviation's Field Guide: Making Sense of Wi-Fi helps make sense of it all.

Written by industry experts, the document outlines the criteria for planning a Wi-Fi installation in business aircraft, and includes coverage maps, recommended equipment and available rates.

Tags: Avionics Installation

Aviation with Donnie The Duncan Jet

Posted by Diane Heiserman on Fri, Aug 01, 2014 @ 03:59 PM


Teach your kids a little bit about aviation with the help from Donnie The Duncan Jet!

This colorful 24-page booklet, is chock full of great activities that will not only teach children fun facts about aviation, but they'll have fun while doing it!

Your kids can join Donnie as he explores the different parts of an aircraft, talks about historical aviation heroes and flies through a maze to find his way to the landing strip. 

It's fun. It's free. 


Donnie Sightings!

Named after the founder of Duncan Aviation, Donald Duncan, Donnie has made appearances around Lincoln, Nebraska, at annual parades, airshows and most recently at Duncan Aviation's new hangar open house. 


Become a Junior Captain with Donnie


Also available are Junior Captain t-shirts for kids. Order yours today

Tags: Announcements

Meet A Duncan Aviation Regional Manager

Posted by Duncan Download Blog on Tue, Jul 29, 2014 @ 04:58 PM


“Every day, I get to do what I enjoy; I work with customers, and do my best to keep the business going.”

Allan Orsi, Regional Manager, South America

How does Duncan Aviation meet the needs of its South American customers, from the northernmost Punta Gallinas, Colombia to the southernmost Cape Horn and everywhere in between?

Meet Allan Orsi.

Recruited in 2008 by a family friend, Allan worked as an agent for Duncan Aviation throughout South America. After four years of hard work and a whole lot of travel, Allan became a Regional Manager in August 2012.

“There are many things I appreciate about working for Duncan Aviation. Ever

y day, I get to do what I enjoy; I work with customers, and do my best to keep the business going.

And Duncan Aviation is honest. Everyone has the same moral and ethical values that I have, and that environment makes for pleasant work conditions.”

Working for a company located in North America and living in Brazil with the entire South American continent as his territory requires quite a bit of travel. In addition to calling on customers, Allan visits the Duncan Aviation facilities in the United States roughly eight times each year.

One way from Sao Paulo to Lincoln takes 13 hours, unless the United States is off daylight saving time—then it takes 15 hours. From early March until November, Campinas and Lincoln, Nebraska, have a two-hour time difference; from November to March, it’s four hours, and the time difference complicates travel and phone meetings and requires careful planning.

Duncan Aviation Regional Managers

Duncan Aviation has 13 regional managers stratigically placed across the world in an effort to better support
our customers. Download the Duncan Aviation Regional Manager map and contact the one in your area. 

Tags: International Considerations, Customer Service

Duncan Aviation's New Hangar Open House is a Success!

Posted by Diane Heiserman on Thu, Jul 17, 2014 @ 11:20 AM

New Hangar Open House

Attendees listened to Chairman Emeritus Robert Duncan review the company's past, present projects and the future of Duncan Aviation. 

On Tuesday, July 15, Duncan Aviation welcomed more than 200 customers, industry partners and local dignitaries to an all-day open house event in their newest maintenance hangar and largest expansion project in Lincoln, Nebraska.
Customers attended informational sessions, toured the Lincoln facility and visited with industry vendors and OEMs. The fun continued into an evening reception with music, food, drinks.

Duncan Aviation's President Aaron Hilkemann and Chairman Emeritus Robert Duncan, welcomed everyone briefly explaning the company's efforts to construct a hangar that would help prevent physical waste, increase energy efficiency and improve productivity saving money for the company and Duncan Aviation customers.

Click to view a time-lapse video of the hangar construction. 

Thanks Again to Our Event Sponsors

















Two Most Common Failures of the APS-80 Autopilot System

Posted by Duncan Download Blog on Tue, Jul 15, 2014 @ 09:00 AM



Larry  Troyer, Duncan Aviation Avionics Instrument Tech Rep, troublshoots the two most common causes of APS-80 Autopilot System failure. 

The autopilot / flight director system is a complicated system that is common in aircraft from light twins to corporate jets. 

  1. FGC-80- (Flight Director)
  2. APC-80
  3. APA-80

The FGC-80- (Flight Director) processes all lateral/vertical signal inputs depending on the selected mode. It controls the position of the command bars in the Flight Directory Indicator and sends commands to the APC-80. APC-80 receives and processes commands from the Flight Director computer and passes them on to the APA-80, which drives the individual servo motors to control aircraft flight.

Two Most Common Failures

1.   Autopilot intermittently disengages during flight

Most likely cause is the APC or APA. These computers have multiple internal dc power supplies that tend to get out of tolerance or fail completely. They can be temperature sensitive (hot or cold) failing at one specific temperature.


  • If you are able to duplicate the discrepancy on the ground, it is possible to isolate the faulty computer by heating or cooling each box individually.
  • Engage the autopilot on the ground and manually override the controls in pitch or roll. If the autopilot disconnects, the most likely cause is in the APA due to faulty torque monitors.

2.   Autopilot will not engage


When the autopilot won't engage, the APA and APC is still most likely the cause. However because of the extensive internal computer monitoring, there are many other things that could be contributing to the failure. When activating the lever to engage the autopilot, the system automatically initiates a self-test routine. During this self-test a dc voltage is sent to the two NAC-80 accelerometers that in turn generate a fixed signal back to the APA. A correct signal is required to successfully pass the self-test. The NAC-80s also put out a valid flag which is monitored in the APP-80 control head as a condition for engagement.

Other conditions required before the autopilot will engage:

  • Valid vertical gyro
  • Valid from the yaw damper computer
  • Correct part number status on both computers (APA & APC)
  • Continuity thru the yoke disconnect switch

If you have access to a breakout box or logic monitor it helps to isolate the problem down to a box or aircraft problem. Other wise the majority of the times engage problems are caused by either the APC-80 or the APA-80 computers.

More Autopilot Squawk Solutions on the Duncan Download

Troubleshooting Business Aircraft Autopilot: Altitude Hold INOP

Troubleshooting Autopilot-Induced Control Surface Oscillations

3 Things to Look for in a Business Aircraft Autopilot Support Team

Diode Short Can Disengage Learjet 35A Autopilot


Tags: Avionics & Instruments, Squawk Solution, Troubleshooting

Aviation Nondestructive Testing

Posted by Duncan Download Blog on Thu, Jul 10, 2014 @ 11:09 AM


Fluorescent magnetic particle inspection on a generator dampener plate.

Nondestructive testing, or NDT, is a method of testing for defects in materials without destruction of the materials.

There is some form of NDT testing on nearly every aircraft inspection. It is often required to test aircraft parts, assemblies and other materials to determine if useful life remains or if cracks or corrosion hide below the surfaces.

Eddy current, dye penetrant, ultrasonic and magnetic particle inspections are all NDT methods used for required NDT testing. For major structural inspections on several aircraft models, NDT x-rays are required.

Duncan Aviation has one of the highest skilled in-house non-destructive testing teams in the industry. All technicians are trained and certified for basic Falcon NDT and several certified for advanced Falcon NDT testing. 

It is what they do full-time every day, day in and day out. They do not divide their time with other areas and work NDT part-time. 

The team currently has 8 certified NDT technicians, but to meet increasing demands, both internal and external, more certified NDT technicians are being added. 

Capabilities in Lincoln, Nebraska, are being expanded to include Bombardier Global and Embraer aircraft. And an NDT lab will open soon in Provo Utah. 

Duncan Aviation believes that being prepared to meet the smallest needs of every customer has the biggest impact and has invested millions of dollars in tools, equipment and talent to quickly and efficiently provide for required aviation maintenance services.

Keep reading about Duncan Aviation’s  NDT capabilities  and what sets us apart from other MRO service providers.

Tags: Airframe Maintenance


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