Posted 12 years 243 days ago ago by Admin
By Ron Whitney - Madison County Executive (MDQ) airport is not an unfamiliar destination for me. Located a little over 17 nm to the northeast of Huntsville International (HSV) Airport, this uncontrolled general aviation airport was a frequent refueling stop while I was in the EMS business. The one thing I always loved about MDQ was that the line guys were always waiting on me, regardless of the time, or the weather. Even if I was only buying thirty gallons of Jet A, they treated us as if it were five thousand. The service here is simply the best I’ve seen in thirty years of flying.
Over the years at MDQ I would notice a new hangar going up here, increased flight activity, another new hangar going up, then a whole lot more flight activity going on, then even more hangars going up. Having retired from the Army a while back, I’ve never lost interest in the latest developments and changes to the rotorcraft fleet. Seemed to me that the only limits to what we would hang off a helicopter were limited only by our imaginations. Little did I know how true that was.
I remember clearly a conversation with one of the local pilots one day at the FBO. “Hey, looks like things are growing a little over there.” I commented. “Oh, yeah that’s that new company Yulista, or something like that.” Replied the local guy. “What are they doing?” I asked. “Well, not quite sure exactly what they do, but I do know I’ve seen a lot of military aircraft around there, and they seem to be growing like a weed.” He continued. “Well, to be growing like that during these times, they must be doing something right.” Something right indeed.
Yulista Aviation Services, a division of Yulista Management Services, falls under the corporate umbrella of the Calista Corporation. Calista was founded in 1972 in Alaska by the Yup’ik Tribe, and has now grown to include some thirteen varied companies spread around the country. Yulista Management Services (YMS) provides administrative and programmatic support, while Yulista Aviation Services (YAS) was chartered to support aviation integration and maintenance contracts.
Yulista Aviation Services opened their first hangar in Meridianville in 2005. The first facility was designated the Prototype Integration Facility, or PIF. It was not long before all of YMS’s aviation and support work was migrated to the Meridianville site. Today the facility has grown to four large hangars, a central receiving facility, and an office complex which houses the design, engineering, and support staff.
Prototype Integration Facility
Sounds military, because it is. A Prototype Integration Facility, (PIF) was developed to meet the needs of our forces in combat. The concept focuses on gathering and organizing all the subject matter experts, engineering and manufacturing resources, in one place, in an effort to solve problems quickly and correctly. The PIF concept is a marked departure from the old way of doing business. Not very long ago it would take years, sometimes many years, to go from “we’ve got a need” to “here is your solution.” The PIF brings all necessary functions under one roof. Prototype development, engineering, fabrication and manufacturing, System Integration, Project Management, Logistics and System training are all conducted at the PIF. This not only drastically reduces the timeline; it enhances quality and standards in ways only dreamt about before.
It takes a tremendous amount of talent and capability to go from idea to finished product. Not only must you assemble an incredible variety of skills and disciplines, you have to organize all this into a workable team. Not an easy task by any measure, but one Yulista has excelled at. Let’s review a few of their accomplishments;
- Achieved ISO 9001, AS 9100 and AS 9110 at the PIF and MDQ facilities
- Received their Federal Aviation Administration Part 145 Repair Station Certification
- Completed over 3000 projects to date, representing over $1.7 Billion dollars
- Over 143 projects currently in various phases of development
- Developed “direct to field” project operations
All in Six Years!
Taking it to the field
Once all the work at the PIF and MDQ is completed it is time for fielding. On the surface this may look fairly simple. I can assure you it is not. To bring back any airframe that is designated for one of Yulista’s projects is logistically out of the question. More practical, and cost effective is to bring the solution to the end user, the warfighter in the field. Teams of Yulista’s project experts deploy globally to insure efficient product integration. Many times this will require that teams be deployed to hostile areas, for extended periods of time. One might think that may be a difficult think to ask of an employee…. Not at Yulista.
On the Grow
So, what does a company that has accomplished so much, in only six short years, do next? “We intend to expand our capabilities into the civilian side of the market.” Said Bob Glover, Yulista’s Director of Aviation Operations, a retired Chief Warrant Officer 4 of the U.S. Army. “We already have reached into other governmental agencies maintenance, repair, and overhaul needs. I think we are strategically positioned for the civil market.” “We have thousands of years of expertise and experience at Yulista, I truly believe we can do it all.” Heading up the Aviation Maintenance division is Earl Thomas, a retired U.S. Army First Sergeant. “We have the technical experts in house. There is not a problem we can not solve, or design a solution for.” Earl stated.
I will be the first to admit, I was quite surprised when I discovered what it was exactly that was going on inside those shiny new hangars at MDQ. Never did I imagine the complexity and diversity of this maintenance operation. Odds are, if you’ve seen a specialty completion, or new system on one of our military helicopters, it was done at Yulista. First impressions count, and I would not at all be surprised, in the near future, if you see a large number of civil aircraft go through those hangars as well.