Posted 322 days ago ago by Admin
Whether you enjoyed the 1980s Tom Selleck or the 2018 Jay Hernandez version of Magnum P.I., the opening credits with the actors, Ferrari, MD 500E helicopter, and the pulsing music are memorable. The agile brown, yellow, and red striped helicopter glides over the Hawaiian Islands and has been compared to the red Ferrari car that Magnum drives in the helicopter’s handling.
In the show, the helicopter belongs to T.C.’s Island Hopper business. T.C. is often roped into helping Magnum solve crimes using the agile helicopter. The aircraft and other models of MD Helicopter products have been in the rotor world since Howard Hughes first invested in helicopter manufacturing in the 1950s with the aviation division of the Hughes Tool Company.
While the business has come a long way in over 70 years, one thing remains certain, MD Helicopters is made up of passionate people who exude pride in their products. And, to the credit of the TV show’s private investigator slant and the brand, a key customer includes law enforcement.
MD Helicopters in 2023 – Supporting and building
Brad Pedersen, MBA, took the helm of MD in the fall of 2022. Pedersen has the depth of experience in turning companies around, and coming back to MD, after an early stint in his career, is like destiny for him. Pedersen said, “I kept an eye on MD, and it was sad to see the company’s decline through financial and other troubles.” But he said one thought has resonated with him, “The problems seemed simple to fix; it was nothing to do with the aircraft or airframe; it was the aftermarket support.”
Pedersen has a poster of Howard Hughes outside his office. He said with a smile, “Every time I walk by, he gives me a disapproving look. I’m like, I’ve got it!” Pedersen desires to honor Hughes and all who have held steadfast to the company. He is committed to getting the right people in the roles to focus wholly on building the company and the aftermarket support to levels not seen in many years.
To that end, he hired an aftermarket expert and a turnaround guy, Ryan Weeks. Weeks has spent time with Bell Textron in mechanical engineering and then got into the automotive business with product line management. He earned an MBA, has done technical sales business development and has re-invented processes in the heavy equipment and golf course industries. Weeks said, “Once the aircraft is sold, the aftermarket business takes care of the customer; warranty, technical, spare parts; service center, and distribution network. It ensures that the entire infrastructure is in place for technical systems; service centers, and distribution networks.” He said that having the right people in the right roles and using suitable systems is key, “there’s much blocking and tackling to be done here.”
He said his job started with identifying how many MD Helicopters are in the world, where they are, and what they need. “We have about 1700 aircraft flying, all around an average of 30 years old.” He said the most important thing is “superior aftermarket performance.”
Alongside Weeks is the VP of Sales and Marketing, Jason Lindauer, who has been with MD in the past. You might say, “third time is a charm,” as Lindauer started with MD Helicopters at the beginning of his career as an A&P Mechanic. He has worked for other aerospace companies as well in customer service and sales and as a field service rep. He is glad to be back at MD Helicopters and is ready to expand his team. He indicated they would double the team in the next couple of years.
As a marketing man, he is keen on the beauty and appearance of the helicopters. Much like the 500 on the Magnum intro, he said, “Customers are very proud of the aircraft.” To this day, to demonstrate the utility of the aircraft, they post photos of their aircraft in various work situations on social media. He said many customers even set up user groups, for their models, on social media to have discussions and problem-solve.
Lindauer has a holistic approach in his role since he’s worked in many positions in the company. He encourages staff to step outside of their role and departments to understand the big picture. He said he encourages employees to “Venture out and understand programs, engage with those on the floor; understand the product and people limitations. Understand the business holistically; when you take that information and engage with the customer, you can find different avenues to expand the network. If someone has a question, you can find out the answer.”
More aircraft on the horizon
The first and most crucial work that Pedersen is doing is visiting customers and suppliers. He is listening and understands their needs. He is working to repair damaged relationships and assure customers that challenges will be fixed. “It’s important to understand customer problems and where we’ve gone crooked in the past. Everyone I talk to loves the product.” He said that when customers come in for training or when they have deliveries, he tries to go out and meet them and say, “Thank you.”
Pedersen said, “We aren’t here just to make money or put food on the table. We have a responsibility as stewards of this organization. We owe it to police forces, utility workers, military folks, and everyone who flies and operates our helicopter to give them the best possible product, to be reliable, deliver spare parts on time, deliver new aircraft on time if the customer has a field issue (engineering wise), let’s solve those immediately.’
He added, “Let’s get the focus back on the products and customers.” He said his job is to make a good company a great company.
They are planning to manufacture 40 new aircraft each year after 2023. This year, they will produce 19 aircraft.
MD Helicopters Products
The MD 500E® helicopter delivers its class's highest speed, payload, and productivity. With a five-bladed main rotor and your choice of a 420-shp Rolls-Royce 250-C20B or 450-shp Rolls-Royce 250-C20R turbine engine, the MD 500E offers unparalleled versatility for the broadest range of customer-defined missions.
The MD 530F is engineered to meet your hot-day, high-altitude operation requirements. Equipped with the 650 shp Rolls-Royce 250-C30 engine, the MD 530F operates more effectively in hot, high environments than other helicopters. It offers the performance you need at a lower cost of ownership.
The Cayuse Warrior is an evolution of the fabled OH-6 Cayuse light observation helicopter known for speed, safety, agility, and the ability to operate easily in confined spaces for military uses. The Cayuse Warrior Light Scout Attack Helicopter delivers increased operational capabilities, greater mission versatility, and superior performance in the execution of a broad range of mission profiles.
The MD 902 Explorer is a multipurpose twin-engine helicopter that MD supports in the field. It sets the standard in performance, affordability, dependability, and safety for light and medium-twin engine helicopters. With operators in every market segment – air medical, law enforcement, search and rescue, electronic newsgathering, executive transport, offshore, and utility – the MD 902 Explorer couples’ high performance with low direct operating costs to rise above the rest
Weeks said that spare parts had been a challenge for MD. “There are just over 700 spare parts,” he said. He noted that he wants enough inventory at the start of every month to ship a part within 24 hours of the order.
He said, “We are all used to Amazon, and that’s where we are going.” He added that it would enable operators to fly the aircraft with available spare parts. They have service centers for heavy maintenance or restoration, where you can bring your helicopter in for an overhaul. MD has affiliations with service centers for older 500 series aircraft.
“We have the ability here (Mesa, AZ) to bring in the 500E to upgrade it to a 530F.” Those in Asia Pacific or other places like New Zealand or Europe want to establish more service centers to support these upgrades and other efforts to support global efforts.
Weeks said there will be parts that they always keep in stock, “we will never be out.” He noted that they would communicate with customers about parts that are 90 days or six months out. “We will get healthy on the inventory for those 700+ parts.”
Giving credit to the original Magnum’s Higgins, John Hillerman, all good things can be improved over time. Many would credit the svelte and fit Perdita Weeks as Higgins over the round Brit playing Higgins in the original show. While the helicopter may look similar, the company has changed over the years. Pedersen and team are the new svelte and fit team at MD Helicopters, firmly guiding the company into a new century of production and customer service. Pedersen concluded about Hughes, “I think there will be a smile on his face one day, knowing that I’ve done a good job.”
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