When Maverick Aviation Group takes its popular air tours to the Hawaiian Islands early next year, it’ll take an unparalleled maintenance record and experience with it.
The Las Vegas-based air tour company will launch tours over Maui’s coastline, rain forests, waterfalls and volcanoes beginning in April.
Crews at Maverick’s 15,000-square-foot maintenance plant at Henderson Executive Airport will soon begin disassembling one of three ECO-Star EC-130 quiet technology helicopters to load on a flatbed truck for a trip to Long Beach, Calif., where it will be loaded onto a Boeing 747 jet and flown to Honolulu. There, the helicopter will be reassembled and flown to its new Maui base.
Tearing down and rebuilding the Airbus Industries-manufactured EC-130s is nothing new for Maverick’s 45 maintenance workers.
The company flies the largest fleet of eight-seat EC-130s in the world at 43, and will increase the total to 47 by mid-2015.
Maverick was the launch customer for the T2 version of the helicopter, which uses an anti-vibration system for a smoother ride.
The Maverick crew keeps its tour helicopter fleet in the air 42,000 hours a year, running inspections and maintenance checks every 30, 50, 100, 150, 600, 800, 1,200, 2,500 and 3,000 hours.
“There’s a lot more to it than most people get to see,” said Tim Hoffman, Maverick’s quality assurance manager, who has worked in aviation tourism since 1998.
Before entering the industry, Hoffman was in the Air Force, working a stint on the helicopter maintenance crew at Nellis Air Force Base after being stationed at bases around the world.
EXPERIENCE IN REMOTE AREAS
Hoffman said half of Maverick’s maintenance crew has had experience working on military aircraft, many of them with remote assignments in desert environments.
Taking Maverick to Hawaii will be a new maintenance experience, and crews will have to become watchful of accelerated corrosion from the salt-water environment.
Hoffman said he doesn’t expect that to be a problem because the company’s philosophy is to be proactive.
“The corporate mantra is, ‘When in doubt, change it out,’ ” he said.
The company has won high praise from the Federal Aviation Administration, which makes several announced and unannounced inspections a year as part of its regulatory responsibility. Maverick has won the FAA’s Award of Excellence Diamond Award four straight years for its maintenance program.
The company manages all maintenance on-site with a shop, a paint booth that keeps the aircraft looking new, an engine shop with six spare engines, worth about $750,000 apiece and a parts department with $2 million worth of parts — hundreds of thousands of them — from massive rotor blades to the tiniest screws and washers.
Besides the Henderson location, Maverick has bases at McCarran International Airport, Grand Canyon West and Tusayan, Ariz., at the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. The Maui operation will be near Kahului Airport, the island’s primary airport.
GROWTH EVEN IN LEAN TIMES
Greg and Brenda Rochna founded Maverick in 1995 and opened it with one aircraft. The company grew even in recession years, suffering a major downturn only the year after the 9/11 attacks.
Rochna expanded the helicopter operation by adding Maverick Airlines, a fixed-wing carrier with six aircraft for charter flights to the Grand Canyon, in 2008.
The Henderson operation opened in 2009 with a division called Mustang Helicopters. The maintenance facility has two daily shifts that is expected to expand to three next year.
The company’s most popular flight includes a trip that lands on Hualapai Indian land near the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon. The company also offers Strip overflights and specialty tours to the Pahrump Valley Winery.
The company’s busiest weekend occurs on the nights of the Electric Daisy Carnival in June. Maverick has a full complement of Grand Canyon flights during the day during the busy summer tourism season by day and transport flights to and from Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the electronic music festival by night.
During that weekend, Maverick essentially becomes a 24/7 operation.
Contact reporter Richard N. Velotta at email@example.com or 702-477-3893. Follow @RickVelotta on Twitter.