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About five years ago, Alpine Aerotech realized an opportunity was hiding in plain sight.
As a Bell and Leonardo authorized service center, the British Columbia-based company had developed a strong reputation for helicopter maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) services since it was founded in 1991. Over the years, it had operated a parts department, stocking common inventory that its maintainers and local operators needed to do their jobs.
“Alpine Aerotech is one of the world’s leading suppliers of new and overhauled helicopter parts and offers an extensive line of Bell components available for rental and exchange.”
The company realized it needed to focus on parts and inventory management in order to support its growing customer base. Today, Alpine Aerotech is one of the world’s leading suppliers of new and overhauled helicopter parts and offers an extensive line of Bell components available for rental and exchange.
Its success in a relatively short period of time is thanks to three decades of experience, accumulated customer data and ongoing customer relationships. Staff collected and analyzed this information to identify trends and predict which parts operators will need — and when. Then, they made a significant investment in the corresponding inventory.
“We used inventory analytics and leveraged our maintenance experience to jump into the data and figure out what operators are likely to need,” explained Alfonso Garcia, purchasing and sales manager at Alpine Aerotech. “Then, we invested a lot of resources in parts sales and inventory management. We scaled our rotable pool for exchanges and rentals, expanded our parts department, and hired a team of logistics and planning specialists. Today, we can support customers worldwide and ship most orders same day.”
With two facilities in Kelowna, B.C., and one in Abbotsford, Alpine Aerotech employs about 150 people. The company also offers heavy maintenance, specialized repairs, paint services, structures, avionics, aircraft sales/leasing and product development.
“We have running spares and critical components on hand, ready to support your aircraft,” said Garcia. “If a customer has a tail rotor strike and they need rental blades and drive train components to get operational, we have that for them. We haven’t advertised that side of the business much, but the message we want to get out now is that we’re not just an MRO.”
If there’s one thing Alpine Aerotech’s tight-knit team knows, it’s helicopters.
“We’re not a massive company where you speak to someone different every time,” said Taylor Wilson, manufacturing and product development manager. “We cultivate long-term relationships, work closely with customers to deliver exactly what they expect, and continue to provide support years after the product is in service.”
If there’s no existing fix for a client’s needs, Alpine Aerotech is ready to create one.
“We have over 30 years of design and manufacturing experience that helps us understand what operators require,” continued Wilson. “We can quickly develop and certify products that ease operations, reduce maintenance costs and increase safety.”
Typically, the design team at Alpine Aerotech will engineer a solution and send a prototype to the requesting operator for fit and function testing. Once accepted, the company will obtain a supplemental type certificate (STC) and begin manufacturing. The company holds over 75 STCs and 300 approved repairs, most developed over the years in close cooperation with operators.
“If there’s no existing fix for a client’s needs, Alpine Aerotech is ready to create one.”
Its first STC project was the Bell 212/412 Exhaust Ejector. Alpine Aerotech improved the design to increase performance and ease inspections. The design was so successful that it was adopted by Bell itself as an improvement over the original equipment. Since then, the B.C. company has manufactured, repaired and overhauled more than 4,000 units.
“That idea came from our maintenance experience,” said Wilson. “We’ve had the same design team for 20 years. They know the aircraft inside and out, and they know how to collaborate with our maintenance staff to take a project from an idea to approval and certification.”
Alpine Aerotech is now producing products for major OEMs around the world.
In May, the company obtained an STC for a crew barrier system it designed for Bell helicopters. Created to keep crews and passengers safe during the Covid-19 pandemic, the barrier is a non-permeable surface that protects against the transmission of airborne droplets. It can be used in the Bell 205, 212, 412, 407 and 429.
“Again, we recognized a problem and solved it by developing a solution. From the first idea, we had this in the aircraft within a couple of weeks,” said Wilson.
With over 500 customers in 50 countries around the world, Alpine Aerotech is successful because its staff goes the extra mile.
“Our people are our advantage,” noted Wilson. “We have built such close relationships with our customers that we really know what they want. That’s what separates us from the rest.”
Garcia agreed: “We are flexible. If a customer needs something out of the norm, we’re willing to look at that. We’ve gone so far as to take their fleet analytics and help them forecast maintenance and parts for the upcoming season.”
For local operators, he said staff members have even delivered parts to a grounded helicopter.
“We’ve all been in this industry a long time, and we have experienced the pain of having contract obligations when the aircraft is AOG [aircraft on ground],” concluded Garcia. “We understand exactly how to help.”
Learn more at alpineaerotech.com