Five Questions for Duncan Aviation’s Bill Prochazka
Chief operating officer Bill Prochazka is the site leader for Duncan Aviation - PVU, a full-service Maintenance, Modifications and Paint complex located on the Provo, UT airport.
Duncan Aviation is headquartered in Lincoln, NE, and has significant operations in Battle Creek, MI. The Provo location, which broke ground in 2017, represents more than $65 million in capital expenditure, and is the family-owned company’s newest and largest expansion project. We caught up with Bill for a quick interview and tour of the 275,000-square-foot facility.
What kinds of services do you offer in Provo?
BP: We are a full-service, tip-to-tail business jet service operation here in Provo. Our customers view us as a one-stop shop. It’s simple for them to have all their aircraft service needs met here. They can get airframe and engine maintenance done and they don’t have to fly their jet elsewhere to complete new exterior paint or interior refurbishment.
We perform avionics installations and upgrades and conduct non-destructive testing via ultrasound, Eddy current, dye penetrant and Magnaflux on all types of components.
While this facility serves customers from all over the U.S. and the globe, it is particularly well-suited for clients in the western half of North America and Pacific Rim. During the site selection process, we looked at 44 different cities in the West, and choose the Provo location.
What’s unique about your facility in Provo?
BP: Sustainability for one thing. We worked with state and local experts to identify and install the best-available air quality technology. We have two paint bays, one cross draft and one downdraft. The cross draft will handle two large aircraft, and the downdraft will handle one, and is sized for any business aircraft which will be designed for the foreseeable future. Both paint bays are computerized, and incorporate automatic monitoring and alarms. No liquid is discharged from the facility, and the VOC discharge from both bays is incinerated by a Regenerative Thermal Oxidizer. The RTO represents a multi-million-dollar investment toward a green paint process. We believe this is the only green business Jet paint facility in existence today. Ironically for a strip-and-paint facility, the air we discharge is as clean as or better than the air most of the country breathes.
The two-hangar maintenance facility utilizes radiant heat in the floors, so our energy footprint is pretty efficient for a building of its size. We’ve also buried the electrical cables and air lines into the hangar floor to minimize trip hazards, and have overhead cranes built into the roof. So, in terms of team member efficiency and safety, it’s really top-notch.
How has your experience been with Utah’s workforce and educational institutions?
BP: Duncan Aviation has hired 120 team members in the last 12 months, bringing our current Utah workforce to 200. We’re finding great people here. They are honest, ethical, and not afraid of hard work.
Talent availability has tightened with the strong economy, but we have great relations with Utah State University (USU) and Salt Lake Community College. They are good pipelines for us and their programs align well with our needs. They are very open to working with us.
We just hosted eight interns from USU this summer, and it was a great experience. My only knock is that many of these young people seem to believe that working for the airlines is their only career option. When they arrive at Duncan Aviation, we say, “Welcome to the sexy side of aviation.”
What’s been your experience working with state and local government?
BP: It’s been an open and transparent relationship. We have had straightforward, honest conversations. The paint facility, for example, took a lot of discussion to find a solution that worked for everyone. That builds trust.
Another example is the way we worked with the fire marshal on the parameters of our facility’s unique needs. We needed flexibility to allow for movement during all phases of maintenance, for the largest planes that manufacturers are producing these days and contemplating in the future. He saw the logic of our needs and was tremendous to work with.
All in all, the state, county, and city officials have taken a very commonsense approach to working with us.
What are your expansion plans?
BP: Everything depends on how the overall economy performs, so timing is apt to vary. In terms of building expansion, we have room to triple our capacity here in the coming years.
In terms of workforce, we are working to build a relationship and pipeline with Utah Valley University in Orem and with Hill Air Force Base in Ogden. If we expand our footprint, we could eventually employ up to 750 people in Utah.
For more about Duncan Aviation, visit https://www.duncanaviation.aero
For more information about the aerospace industry in Utah visit EDCUtah's aerospace page.